Aquatic Plants For Ponds: 11 Of Our Maryland Favorites

Discover The Underwater Garden: The Magic Of Aquatic Plants For Ponds

a little girl looking at a flower in a pond.

Have you ever wondered what makes some backyard ponds look like vibrant oases while others remain plain and uninspiring? Or are you maybe curious about how simple plants can transform an ordinary pond into a thriving ecosystem?

In this post, you’ll learn about the different types of aquatic plants for ponds and how they each play a crucial role in the pond’s health and aesthetics.

By the end of this article, you’ll not only have a list of our 11 favorite aquatic plants to enhance your Maryland pond construction project but also understand the significant benefits water plants for ponds bring to your aquatic environment.

Types Of Aquatic Plants For Ponds

a small pond with a waterfall in the middle of it.

In Maryland cities such as Columbia, aquatic plants are not just decorations but essential elements that contribute to the balance and beauty of any pond. Whether you’re setting up a new water garden or enhancing an existing one, understanding the different types of aquatic plants for ponds is crucial. These pond plants are not only vital for maintaining water quality but also provide a habitat for pond life, help control algae, and add aesthetic value to your landscape.

Bog Plants

Bog plants are ideal for the water’s edge in ponds.

These plants thrive in moist soil but do not need to be submerged. Gardeners often use bog plants to create natural filtration systems.

Some popular bog plants for ponds include the marsh marigold and the umbrella palm, which are excellent for adding structure and vibrant green foliage to the pond surroundings.

What is a pond bog?

Marginal Plants

Marginal plants grow in shallow water or at the water’s edge and are critical for establishing a stable pond ecosystem.

They are usually planted in pots submerged in a few inches of water. Examples include the yellow iris and cattails, which are prevalent in water gardens throughout Baltimore, MD.

These plants are essential for their filtering capabilities, helping to absorb excess nutrients and reduce algae growth.

Floating Plants

Floating pond plants, such as water lettuce and duckweed, are crucial for providing shade and reducing the sunlight that fuels algae growth.

These plants float freely on the surface of the water with their roots dangling beneath them, acting as natural water purifiers while adding visual interest to the pond.

Deep Emergent Plants

Deep emergent plants, such as the iconic water lilies and lotus, have their roots firmly planted in the pond’s bottom but emerge above the surface.

These plants are star attractions in any water garden, providing shade and shelter for fish and other aquatic wildlife.

Their blooms add a dramatic touch of beauty to the pond’s landscape, particularly in the summer months when they are in full bloom.

Submerged Plants

Submerged oxygenating pond plants are the unseen heroes of the aquatic plant world.

They live entirely underwater, performing the vital role of oxygenating the water and helping to keep it clear and free of harmful substances.

Plants like hornwort and cabomba are popular choices for maintaining the water’s health and clarity.

Tropical Plants

Tropical aquatic plants bring an exotic flair to ponds and water gardens.

These plants generally require warmer temperatures and need to be winterized to survive Maryland’s colder months.

Tropical waterlilies and the vibrant blue taro are favorites for their stunning flowers and lush foliage, which can transform any pond into a tropical paradise.

11 Aquatic Plants For Ponds By Premier Ponds

You can use these 11 aquatic plants for ponds to make your pond look more natural and beautiful: water poppies, dwarf cattails, corkscrew rush, moneywort, yellow iris, thalia, water hyacinth, water lettuce, water lilies, lotus, and cabomba. 

  1. Water Poppies
  2. Dwarf Cattails
  3. Corkscrew Rush
  4. Moneywort
  5. Yellow Iris
  6. Thalia
  7. Water Hyacinth
  8. Water Lettuce
  9. Water Lillies
  10. Lotus
  11. Cabomba

Bog Aquatic Plants For Ponds

Bog plants, like the following 3, prefer to live around the pond where the soil is damp but not soaking wet. They can make a nice spacing between your water feature and the other parts of your yard.

1. Water Poppies

a bunch of flowers that are by a body of water.

This tropical bog plant has dark green leaves with yellow or red flowers. They bloom June through August and love full sunlight, though they can have some shade. It belongs in the damp soil right around the pond.

In addition to their visual appeal, water poppies are excellent for increasing the oxygen levels in the water, which helps maintain the aquatic ecosystem’s health.

2. Dwarf Cattails

a close up of a plant with a bug crawling on it.

This durable pond plant can help filter your water so it stays cleaner and clearer. They also belong on the outskirts of a pond. Dwarf cattails can grow 1 to 2 feet high and spread out about as far.

Cattails are particularly effective at providing nesting sites for local wildlife and creating a natural barrier against wind and erosion.

3. Corkscrew Rush

a potted plant in the water with a sign on it.

This plant adds character to any pond as it swirls and twirls around the outside of your water feature. When the weather is warmer, they’ll have flowers blooming on their tips.

The unique structure of corkscrew rush makes it an attractive focal point, and it’s also beneficial for stabilizing pond margins.

Marginal Aquatic Pond Plants

Marginal aquatic plants for ponds grow where the water and land meet or in boggy areas. They aren’t interchangeable with bog plants because bog plants can’t grow in marginal areas.

4. Moneywort

a close up of a purple flower with green leaves.

Blue moneywort can add a nice splash of color to any pond. They love full sun or partly shady areas, so they can live around almost any pond.

The creeping jenny/golden moneywort is the more common of these aquatic plants for ponds. They’re great for filling in spaces between rocks and waterfalls as they grow in nice, thick mats.

Moneywort is a great pond plant for filling in spaces between rocks and waterfalls as they grow in nice, thick mats, providing excellent coverage and preventing soil erosion.

5. Yellow Iris

a bunch of flowers that are in the grass.

These amazing aquatic plants for ponds bloom for a few weeks during the spring in many different colors like white, blue, pink, and more. They grow 4 to 6 feet high and take up about half that in space, so you’ll be seeing plenty of them.

Yellow iris plants are known for their ability to absorb pollutants from the water, significantly enhancing the pond’s water quality.

6. Thalia

a bunch of flowers that are on a branch.

These late bloomers like to show their flowers in the later summer/early fall time. They also take up a good amount of space, 4 to 6 feet in height and 6 to 8 feet around. This violet-colored plant loves sunny areas.

Thalia pond plants not only add vertical interest but also attract pollinators such as butterflies and bees to your garden.

Floating Aquatic Plants For Ponds

These plants simply float on the surface of the water with their roots dangling down, filtering the water so it’s cleaner and clearer. They also give fish shade and places to hide from predators.

7. Water Hyacinth

a close up of a purple flower near water.

These flowers have bright purple petals and can spread like wildfire. Well, not that quickly, but they can start taking over a pond if you don’t cut them back every so often.

Water hyacinth is particularly valued for its ability to quickly absorb excess nutrients, which helps combat algae blooms.

8. Water Lettuce

a close up of lettuce growing in a garden.

The description is all in the name. This aquatic plant for ponds looks like someone started growing lettuce in and around a pond. They can be pretty invasive, so you’ll want to keep a close eye on their growth.

Water lettuce forms dense mats on the water surface, providing excellent shade and habitat for aquatic life while reducing the sunlight that fuels unwanted algae growth.

Deep Emergent Aquatic Plants For Ponds

Much like floating plants, deep emergent aquatic plants take root on the bottom, but what comes out of the water are leaves and stems, not flowers. The flowers come out of the emerging parts.

9. Water Lillies

a pond filled with lots of water lilies.

These aquatic plants grow beautiful pink and/or white flowers. They provide shade and cover for fish, and frogs will actually sit on them.

Water lilies also help improve water clarity by reducing the light that reaches the deeper parts of the pond, which can slow algae growth.

10. Lotus

a yellow water lily floating on top of a green lily pad.

These pond plants are also found in beautiful shades of pink and white that bloom in the late spring to midsummer. If you have one of these deep emergent plants you don’t really need the other, but you can have different colors of both.

Lotus plants are not only spectacular to look at but also have large leaves that help stabilize the water temperature and provide shelter for fish.

Submerged Aquatic Plants For Ponds

These pond plants grow entirely underwater and are one of the ways to protect pond fish from predators.

11. Cabomba

a close up of some white flowers on a tree.

While the pink, magenta, or white flowers beautify the bottoms of many ponds, this pond plant has an invasive habit. This is why it’s best to have some experience with pond plants before putting them in yours.

Cabomba is excellent for oxygenating the water, and its dense foliage offers a perfect hiding and spawning ground for fish.

Tropical Aquatic Plants

Go to the islands without leaving home! Tropical aquatic plants will add a new dimension to your aquatic gardening. They’re unique and have many vibrant colors. Try them out in your water garden, and you’ll fall in love!

Unfortunately, unless they are properly winterized (usually that means bringing them inside or putting them in a greenhouse) they’ll die off and not grow back in the spring. Even so, they’re still a favorite!

Some of our favorite tropical pond plants are:

  • Umbrella Palm: A very popular tropical marginal plant, it adds dense, slender green backdrops and height to waterscapes. It grows very well in full sun but does well in shady areas, too. This plant’s tall and elegant form is ideal for adding vertical structure to your pond, creating a striking visual contrast with lower-growing aquatic plants.
  • Lilies: Tropical Lilies are like hardy lilies, but the flowers come in more colors and can stand high off the water. The plant grows from one single central crown. The lily pads may be scalloped or toothy and may have reddish flecks. These lilies not only provide aesthetic beauty but also serve as natural water filters, pulling nutrients from the water that could otherwise fuel unwanted algae growth.
  • Tea Cup Taro: Its name comes from the shape of the leaves, which are capable of collecting several ounces of water during heavy rainfall! The stems are a dark burgundy color, while the leaves remain a glossy green with slight burgundy veining. It averages about 5 feet in height during the summer. The large leaves of the tea cup taro help to maintain humidity levels around the pond and provide ample shade, which can help keep water temperatures cooler on hot summer days.

Benefits Of Aquatic Plants For Ponds

  • Filtering water
  • Absorbing algae-feeding nutrients
  • Aerating the water
  • Providing shade and shelter
  • Adding color, texture, and beauty to ponds

Aquatic plants play a critical role in the ecological balance of pond environments by filtering pollutants and providing oxygen. They also help prevent erosion by stabilizing the pond’s banks with their roots. By creating a more diverse habitat, pond plants encourage biodiversity, attracting beneficial insects and wildlife to the area.

Aquatic Plant Care And Control

a stone fire place surrounded by plants and rocks.

Discipline before affection. Aquatic plants need maintenance to keep them healthy and in check. You can DIY or have a professional pond contractor come to service your pond for you. You don’t want your pond plants to start turning yellow.

Left uncontrolled, plants can easily take over your pond’s ecosystem. This can throw the ecosystem off balance and keep you from enjoying your amazing water feature. Controlling pond plants is possible and helpful.

Proper management of aquatic plants for ponds includes regular pruning to maintain their size and shape, ensuring they do not overshadow other species in the pond. This helps keep the aquatic ecosystem healthy and vibrant, promoting clear water and reducing the likelihood of algae blooms.

This control of plants also extends to algae. You don’t want to completely kill off all algae because that’s almost as bad for your pond as letting it grow uncontrolled. You can control algae without too much effort.

Here is a list of control tips for water plants for ponds:

  • Regular Inspections: Regularly inspect plants for signs of disease or pest infestation. Early detection can prevent widespread issues.
  • Pruning and Trimming: Keep plants at a manageable size and remove any dead or dying parts to prevent decay in the water, which can deplete oxygen levels and harm aquatic life.
  • Nutrient Management: Avoid over-fertilization to prevent excessive nutrient buildup, which can lead to algae blooms. Use specially formulated aquatic plant fertilizers that release nutrients slowly.
  • Plant Placement: Strategically place plants to ensure they receive adequate sunlight and do not overshadow each other, which could impede their growth.
  • Control Invasive Species: Actively manage and control the spread of invasive species that can quickly take over a pond, such as water hyacinth and Eurasian watermilfoil.

Seasonal Pond Plant Care

Effective seasonal care of water garden plants in Columbia, MD, ensures their health and vigor throughout the year, adapting to the changing conditions each season brings.


  • Cleaning: Remove winter debris and dead plant material, which can decompose and reduce water quality.
  • Replanting: Divide and replant overgrown aquatic plants to encourage healthy growth and prevent overcrowding.
  • Water Chemistry: Test and adjust the water’s pH, hardness, and nutrient levels to ensure optimal growing conditions.


  • Water Levels: Monitor and adjust water levels as evaporation rates increase.
  • Algae Control: Increase aeration and consider adding beneficial bacteria to naturally reduce algae without chemicals.


  • Preparation for Dormancy: Trim back hardy plants and remove tropical plants that cannot survive the winter outdoors. Reduce feeding fish as their metabolism slows down.
  • Plant Health: Apply a light fertilizer to encourage root development, which helps plants overwinter.


  • Ice Management: Prevent the pond from completely freezing over to allow gas exchange, which is crucial for fish and plant survival.
  • Protection: Use floating plant protectors or move sensitive plants to a greenhouse or indoor setting to avoid frost damage.
  • Monitoring: Keep an eye on the pond, especially during unseasonably warm periods, as fluctuations in temperature can stress pond plants.

Premier Ponds: Planting Ideas, Growing Beauty

At Premier Ponds, we understand that the right balance of aquatic plants can transform your pond from a simple body of water to a vibrant ecosystem. Our expert team is equipped to help you choose, plant, and maintain the perfect selection of aquatic flora to ensure your pond thrives in every season.

If you’re looking to enhance the ecological balance and aesthetic appeal of your pond, fill out our contact form today or give us a call. Let’s cultivate a stunning waterscape together and watch your backyard bloom with life and beauty.