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The Best Plants for Small Ponds

By Izzy McPhee ; Updated September 21, 2017
Many plants are suitable for small ponds

Not every gardener has the space for large ponds. For those with small yards, small-scale water features are the next best thing. It's even possible to install a small indoor water feature. Small ponds can be as simple as a few plants in a bowl of water, or as elaborate as a pond the size of a kiddy pool. For small ponds, the challenge is to use plants for the best impact without ruining the desired scale.


Due to its tiny size and lack of soil requirements, duckweed is an excellent choice for smaller ponds. When healthy and happy, duckweed can as much as double its quantity on a daily basis. Its tiny green leaves form a mat over the surface of the water. Small ponds are prone to overheat, and duckweed helps to shade the water from the sun’s hot rays. Fish like to nibble on duckweed. When it grows to fill in more than needed, the excess can be removed and placed on various yard plants as fertilizer.


Like duckweed, azolla is a small surface-dwelling plant. It requires no soil for its tiny roots and will offer cover and food for fish and other aquatic creatures. The leaves resemble tiny fern fronds as they spread quickly across the water’s surface. When the weather starts to cool (and sometimes even before that) azolla will take on a deep bronze tone with green and golden accents before dying back completely. This showy plant can be used as fertilizer.


With leaves reminiscent of waterlilies, frog’s-bit is a good choice for small ponds. It has white blossoms held just above the water’s surface. It has been known to bloom underwater as well. If grown in deeper water, frog’s-bit has a tendency to float like a waterlily. In the shallows it will root itself and can be seen growing above the water.

Miniature Waterlily

Fortunately, miniature versions of this famous pond plant are now widely available. Miniature waterlilies require the same care as their larger relatives, but require much less space. Their leaves are much smaller than the standard variety, as are their colorful blossoms. In a medium-sized pond, several miniature lilies can be grown successfully together.

Creeping Jenny

Creeping Jenny is a small, spreading plant with green to golden leaves. Creeping Jenny will grow around the edges of a pond, or if left to its own devices, can spread across the surface. Its creeping habit makes it an ideal choice for planting on the edges of a pond. Spilling over rocks and ornaments, it will hang down gracefully like a living waterfall. This plant spreads quickly so may need to be thinned occasionally.