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Good Plants for Water Features

Water features improve the landscaping of homes in the form of ponds, fountains, waterfalls and birdbaths. Adding plants in or around these water features brings them to life, but not just any plant will do. Specific aquatic plants will thrive in this environment when many others would get waterlogged and die.

Free Floating

Free-floating plants, often known as floating plants, survive on the water surface devoid of any soil and get all required nutrients from the water. Control algae growth in water features with these types of plants because it takes nitrogen from the water and functions as natural filters. Types of floating plants include duckweed, water lettuce, fairy moss, water hyacinth, butterfly fern and frog bit. Put these plants in the water and watch them grow. Check with your local Extension for any types of floating plants restricted in your area because of invasive characteristics or other reasons.


Submerged, underwater or oxygenator plants grow beneath the water. Providing food and purification to the water, these plants are a necessity in water features with fish. Grown in pots weighted and placed on the bottom of the water feature, submerged plants provide shade and shelter for the fish as well. Examples of these consist of hornwort, Canadian pondweed, anacharis, cabomba, water milfoil, vallisneria and dwarf sagittaria. Some forms of these plants are restricted in certain areas, check ahead before purchasing.

Rooted Floating

Rooted floating, floating leafed or deep-water plants grow from the bottom of the water feature with foliage that floats on the water's surface. Able to completely cover the water surface, these types of plants limit light from reaching deep into the water and aide in preventing algae growth. This group includes water lilies that come in two forms--tropical and hardy. Tropical varieties bloom in either day or night and all hardy types bloom in the day, but a few will alter colors as the bloom ages. Planted at the bottom in pots or in the ground, these plants do well in ponds. Examples besides lilies include four-leaf clover, water hawthorne, yellow floating heart and mosaic plant.


Marginal, bog or shallow water plants thrive in the shallow water or on the edges of water features. Capable of withstanding three inches of water, these plants help blend the water features into the landscaping. Planted in pots under water or directly into the soil, these plants will thrive. Available in numerous colors and various heights, marginal plants are a good selection for water features. Water plants in this type include lotus, iris, parrotfeather, elodea, knot grass, Katie ruellia, chameleon, calla lily, arrowhead, black magic taro and butterfly ginger.

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