The Quick Guide to Pond Plants

The Quick Guide to Pond Plants

A pond can enhance the look and beauty of the land on your property, whether you choose to build a pond or purchase land with an already existing pond. Ponds create a tranquil, serene focal point with several ecological benefits for the land and nature around your house. Adding pond plants to your backyard pond can create a healthy, balanced, and thriving ecosystem.

While pond plants are not required as long as the pond is well cared for, they can provide many benefits that allow your pond to flourish. There are four types of aquatic plants for ponds to consider, each that can provide its own benefits for your pond ecosystem. Read on to learn more about the different types of pond plants and the many benefits they can provide.

The Four Different Types of Pond Plants

Whether you have a small backyard pond or a large pond teaming with fish and wildlife, aquatic pond plants can improve the look and aesthetic of your pond and provide several benefits for your pond's ecosystem. With any kind of living wildlife, such as fish, you will want to ensure you use plants safe for fish ponds.

Understanding the four different kinds of pond plants can get you set up for success as you choose what works best for you and as you learn how to care for your pond. They can vary in size from small pond plants to larger, more dynamic pond plants. The four main types of aquatic plants include submerged, floating, emergent, and shoreline.

Submerged Plants – Submerged plants live and thrive under the water's surface with roots under the soil at the bottom. Many of the submerged plants are oxygenating, making them great for fish and providing shelter, food, and oxygen.

Floating Plants – Floating plants have floating roots, and the main part of the plan floats at or near the surface of the water. The roots can exist in the soil at the bottom of a shallow pond. Floating plants are great for reducing algae and helping improve the water quality by absorbing extra nutrients and filtering the water.

Emergent Plants – Emergent plants are plants that grow roots at the bottom of the pond underwater, but the main part of the plant is above the water. These plants are usually closer to the pond's shore and provide shelter and food for many of the wildlife under and above the surface. Emergent plants provide shelter and break down nutrients that algae can thrive on. Some great examples of emergent plants commonly found in ponds include water lilies, cattails, and bulrushes.

Shoreline – Shoreline plants are plants that prefer their roots under the shoreline but can do well regardless of excess moisture and flooding. These plants are vital for protecting the shoreline and preventing erosion and runoff. When choosing shoreline plants, it's important to be sure to do your research and avoid choosing invasive plants that can take over the ponds and surrounding areas very quickly.

Benefits of Pond Plants

Pond plants contribute to a healthy pond ecosystem. Their purpose is to provide much more than an aesthetically pleasing look to your water features. Water plants for ponds improve the overall health of the water they surround and positively impact the wildlife that can live in and around your pond.

  • Improve Water Quality - Planting one of the many pond-cleaning plants can remove excess nutrients, contaminants, and fish waste. Many are natural water filtration plants that keep your pond looking its best. With fewer contaminants, there are fewer nutrients that algae can feed on, slowing the growth of algae in your pond. Pond plants are a perfect natural addition to go along with a pond aerator for reducing muck in your pond. 
  • Provides Protect and Shelter for Fish - Depending on the size of your pond, if you have fish, there are plenty of designated fish pond plants that can provide a hiding place for fish from predators above and below the surface. They can also provide enough shade from the sunlight, which can also reduce the algae blooms.
  • Stabilizes the Shoreline and Pond Floor - Aquatic plants have root systems that can reduce waves along the shoreline while holding sediments on the pond floor. It prevents erosion and stabilizes the shoreline to prevent impacts on the surrounding land.
  • Food Source For Wildlife - The fish, insects, ducks, turtles, and more that live in the pond use aquatic plants as a food source. The plants provide a critical link in the pond's ecosystem.
  • Improves the Aesthetics - Pond plants offer improved aesthetics and a diverse community of plants that add depth and color, with pond flowers adding to the overall beauty of your pond.

Caring for Pond Plants Year Round

Pond plants are vital to your pond's ecosystem but require care, attention, and planning. Before the colder weather approaches, there are a few steps to take to ensure your pond plants look their best next spring and summer.

Many hardy pond plants can be mostly left alone, but some of the less hardy plants need a little extra care to ensure they survive. One of the most important steps is to trim and remove any dead pond foliage down to the plant's crown. For many plants you can reach, trim any excess foliage still living to just above water level.

For colder climates, if you can, move the plants indoors before the temperature gets too cold. These would be any planters you have around the pond or plants that are easily moved without issue. If your water typically freezes, you will want to sink them below the water level.

While pond plants can take a little work to ensure they survive throughout the winter. You can research each plant to ensure you care for them properly. If it's too much work, you can always choose native plants that naturally survive the climate where you live.


Pond plants offer much more than beautiful greenery to your backyard pond. A healthy balance of pond plants can improve the aesthetics of your land and create a serene focal point to enjoy. Along with artificial solutions like pond aeration, carefully choosing beneficial pond plants offers a simple, natural alternative that can strengthen your pond's ecosystem to heighten its beauty and help the habitat thrive year after year.


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