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What Plants Grow in a Marsh?

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A marsh is a type of wetland that is often submerged in water. The plants that grow in this area generally have soft stems and are particularly adapted to these wet conditions. Generally, marshes receive their water from the surface, but certain marshes receive this moisture from groundwater. Marshes can contain both fresh and saltwater. If you have your own marsh or wish to create one, then you need to purchase plants specific to marsh environments.


This is a type of freshwater plant, and it belongs to the Potamogetonaceae family. This plant propagates via rhizomes, which is a type of plant node. Generally, this is a perennial plant, but it depends on the climate. Leaves range from leathery leaves that float on top of the water to small, almost see-through leaves. The flowers of this plant are stalk-like, and end in a cluster of small, white to yellowish flowers. Pondweed can overtake a marsh if not controlled properly. If planting in a garden marsh, leave in a pot.


Bulrushes are commonly found within the shallow sections of a marsh, and they are characterized by their long, green stalks. These stalks protrude up to 10 feet above the water. At the end of the stalk are clustered leaves with a triangular head. The flowers and seeds are located near the leaves at the stalk’s termination. Bulrushes are usually referred to as either pencil reeds or just reeds. Fish use these plants for breeding grounds, and birds like swans, ducks and geese use bulrushes for food.

Water Lily

The water lily creates large pads that float on top of the water, and fish use these pads for shade and protection. Water lilies also act as oxygenators, allowing aquatic animals to breathe. The term water lily refers to both the Nymphaeaceae and Nelumbonaceae family of plants, which includes actual water lilies and lotuses. Both of these families of plants create brightly colored blooms, ranging in color from white to pink to purple to red. These plants generally need 65-degree or warmer weather and bright sun to create this bloom. Control water lilies by keeping them in submerged pots.


Cattails are common marsh plants, and they are characterized by their hot dog-resembling seed head. Cattails have thin stalks and can reach up to 9 to 10 feet tall. The two types of cattails are narrow-leaf and common. The narrow-leaf cattail has thinner leaves than the common, which has broad leaves. Cattails generally bloom during the summer months. Cattails spread quickly; control them by planting them in a submerged pot.

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