Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

Native Water Plants of Indiana

Wetlands and bogs in Indiana were once viewed as nothing more than swamps that should be drained so the land could be used. In the past few decades, environmentalists have come to recognize the importance of restoring native wetlands as part of natural watersheds. Native water plants are part of the restoration; they stop erosion, provide forage and shelter for fish and wildlife, and improve the quality of groundwater.

Pot Scrubber Plant

Pot scrubber plant (Equisetum hyemale) is the last surviving genus of an entire class of vascular plants, some of which are embedded as fossils in Indiana limestone from over 350 million years ago. Pot scrubber plants have no flowers or true leaves. Photosynthesis occurs in the stem. The plants are basically round stems that grow up to 4 feet tall. They appear somewhat segmented; each node is ringed by a set of “teeth” that are part of scale-like leaves surrounding the node. Although the tips of the stems produce heads up to 1 inch long that carry spores, pot scrubber plants spread mainly by a vast system of rhizomes. The plants contain high levels of silica. The stems can be bundled and trimmed and used to scour surfaces, even metal. Although pot scrubber is an aggressive spreader, it is also a popular plant for water gardens. Plant it in a container to control the rhizomes, and sink the container to the bottom of a shallow pond. Pot scrubber is an evergreen plant that adds continuous visual interest to a water garden.

Marsh Marigold

Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) is a member of the buttercup family. It is a perennial that spreads by rhizomes or seeds. Native marsh marigolds grow in wet areas along stream beds, riverbanks and the edges of ponds. It also populates bogs and swamps. The plant forms a neat mound about 15 inches tall in shade or sun. It blooms best with at least partial sun. The leaves are rounded and waxy, remaining small during the spring flowering period and then growing to 6 inches across during the summer. Bright yellow flowers cover the plant during April, May and June. Seed pods form, and pop open when ripe. Seeds are dispersed onto surrounding wet ground, or they float to a new location. Grow marsh marigolds directly in wet soils around natural water areas. In a water garden, grow them in pots submerged to the top. Full sun in summer heat may cause marsh marigolds to go dormant; remedy this by moving the pots to a shady area of the water garden.

Canadian Pondweed

Canadian pondweed (Elodea canadensis) is a submerged aquatic plant that can be grown free-floating or anchored in a pond or water garden. Place a pot of this plant on the bottom of the garden pond, or simply float sections of the plant in the water. It will grow and spread either way. It can become overgrown, but you can easily control it by snipping it down to size. In a large, overgrown pond, rake part of the pondweed out of the water and use it for mulch, or add it to the compost pile. Canadian pondweed remains green all year. It overwinters under ice. Pondweed helps control algae. It is an excellent cover plant for fish. Pondweed is sold as an aquarium plant to oxygenate and clarify the water.

Garden Guides