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Choosing The Best Water Plants For Your Pond

Posted on October 1, 2021 
by Dan Wanders

It’s hard to imagine a pond without a water lily bobbing gently on its surface — its showy, fragrant flowers blooming profusely all summer long in a rainbow of vibrant colours.

But water lilies are not the only plants you should consider when landscaping your pond.

Aquatic plants are living, breathing filters that keep your pond healthy and provide a habitat for fish and other pond residents. So your pond should include a mix of lilies, floaters, submerged oxygenators, and marginal plants.

I’ve included the benefits of each, plus a few varieties to help you get started.

Pond with Lilly pads.

Water lilies

Water lilies are a perennial favourite with pond owners and water gardeners — but their benefits go beyond their obvious beauty. They provide shade and refuge for fish, inhibit the growth of algae and help regulate the water temperature during the hot summer months.

Hardy water lilies are dependable and easy to grow — making them a good choice for novice gardeners. They’re perennials and can be left in your pond over the winter.

You can also add tropical lilies as a beautiful centerpiece to your pond — but make sure to bring them in when the weather turns cold. They won’t survive a cold Canadian winter if left in your pond.


As the name implies, these are plants that grow on the surface of your garden pond — no planting required!

Floating plants help reduce algae growth by shading the water’s surface and competing with the aglae for nutrients — keeping your water clear.

There are all kinds of floating aquatic plants, here are a few:

Fairy Moss is actually an aquatic fern that floats freely on the water’s surface. It’s bright green leaves darken to a beautiful purple red in the fall, adding interest to your garden. Koi and other fish love to nibble on its foliage — good thing it’s a fast-grower!

Water Hyacinths are floating plants that produce beautiful lavender flowers during the summer. They reproduce quickly and their intricate root structure is a good spawning area for fish. They provide shade and improve water quality in your pond!

Water Lettuce has velvety foliage that looks like a rosette, with dense, submerged roots beneath it. Like most aquatic floaters, it provides shade, food and refuge for fish. This is also a vigorous grower, and can be invasive if left to its own devices — so be sure to keep it contained.

Submerged Oxygenators

These underwater plants absorb excess nutrients from the water and release oxygen — making them vitally important for the health of your pond and fish. They act as a filtration system and prevent the growth of algae, keeping your water clear.

They also provide a natural habitat for fish, who love to shelter among the foliage. Here’s a few you might like to add to your pond.

Hornwort , Parrot’s Feather and Waterthyme are all fast-growing oxygenators that are exceptionally good at filtering your pond water. They compete with algae and absorb excess ammonia, nitrates and other waste that turn your water green.


These are the plants you see hugging the water’s edge. They thrive in shallow waters and provide shelter for frogs and other wildlife.

Using a combination of textures, height and colours will add visual interest to your pond and can give it a natural feel.

Popular choices are Bulrushes , Creeping JennyBlue Iris and Marsh Marigolds.

You can also include some small, water-loving shrubs and trees to add height to your water garden design.

Looking for help or inspiration for your pond?

Choosing the best plant for your garden pond can be a challenge, especially when you live in Ontario — your plants need to survive bitter cold winters and hot summers.

At Raymar Landscapes, we’ve been creating beautiful ponds for 30 years — we invite you to visit the photo gallery on our website for inspiration.

If you like what you see, give us a call or fill out our online form. We’d be delighted to help you create the perfect pond!