12 Best Pond Plants Compared & Reviewed 2020

In this guide, I’ll help you choose the best pond plants for you. I’ll review the most popular plants people use so you can make an informed buying deicsion.

Quick overview For Pond Plants

All these plants I mention could be considered the best pond plant. They’re all great and what you should do, is mix and match your favorite ones.

Preview Product
1 Blue Pickerel Water Plants Marginal 1 Blue Pickerel Water Plants Marginal
Perennial Farm Marketplace Lysimachia nummularia (Creeping Jenny) Groundcover, 1 Quart, Green Leaves with Yellow Flowers Perennial Farm Marketplace Lysimachia nummularia (Creeping Jenny) Groundcover, 1 Quart, Green Leaves...
Cardinal Lobelia Flower Attract Hummingbirds Butterfly Red Live Plant for Planting Cardinal Lobelia Flower Attract Hummingbirds Butterfly Red Live Plant for Planting
10 x Horsetail Plants for Koi Pond Bamboo Looking Exot 10 x Horsetail Plants for Koi Pond Bamboo Looking Exot
Iris versicolor (Northern Blue Flag Iris) Perennial, blue flowers, 1 - Size Container Iris versicolor (Northern Blue Flag Iris) Perennial, blue flowers, 1 - Size Container
Greenpro | Hornwort Ceratophyllum Demersum Pond Oxygenating Live Aquarium Plants Package Freshwater Fish Tank (3 Bunch) Greenpro | Hornwort Ceratophyllum Demersum Pond Oxygenating Live Aquarium Plants Package Freshwater...
Greenpro 3 Bundles Anacharis Egeria Densa Elodea Live Aquarium Plants Freshwater Pond Aquatic Water Plant Decorations Greenpro 3 Bundles Anacharis Egeria Densa Elodea Live Aquarium Plants Freshwater Pond Aquatic Water...
12 Water Lettuce from John's Pond Plants Floating Water Garden KOI Pond Plants Nursery Grown in Florida Aquatics Plants Nursery 12 Water Lettuce from John's Pond Plants Floating Water Garden KOI Pond Plants Nursery Grown in...
Water Hyacinths Floating Water Garden Plants (5 Live Plants) Water Hyacinths Floating Water Garden Plants (5 Live Plants)
Live Aquatic Hardy Water Lily | Pre-Grown, Pre-Rooted, Hardy Water Lily for Your Pond or Patio Water Garden | Drop-N-Grow Convenience -Pink (Nymphaea 'Pink Venusta') Live Aquatic Hardy Water Lily | Pre-Grown, Pre-Rooted, Hardy Water Lily for Your Pond or Patio Water...
Live Aquatic Plant Nymphaea Geena Blue Tropical Water Lilies Tuber for Aquarium Freshwater Fish Pond by Greenpro Live Aquatic Plant Nymphaea Geena Blue Tropical Water Lilies Tuber for Aquarium Freshwater Fish Pond...
(Nymphaea Alin) Tropical Water Lily Tuber Live Aquatic Plants for Freshwater Fish Pets Pond Balcony Decorations by Greenpro (Nymphaea Alin) Tropical Water Lily Tuber Live Aquatic Plants for Freshwater Fish Pets Pond Balcony...

Last update on 2020-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best Pond Plants Reviewed

Let’s get started and review good plants for your pond

1. Blue Pickerel (Pontederia cordata

Type: bog/marginal

Perennial or Annual: perennial

Hardiness zones: 3-10

Care level: easy

Small pond friendly: spreads easily so may be better for larger ponds

Flowering: yes

Blue pickerel has thick stems that shoot straight up from the substrate. Broad, pointed leaves flare out near the top of the stalk and most of them will be topped with an inflorescence of purple flowers. This hardy plant thrives on neglect but may aggressively spread shooting out runners from its rhizome. Keeping it in containers instead of direct planting can keep it from spreading.

1 Blue Pickerel Water Plants Marginal
1 Blue Pickerel Water Plants Marginal

Last update on 2020-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia)

Type: bog/marginal

Perennial or Annual: perennial

Hardiness zones: 3-9

Care level: easy

Small pond friendly: yes

Flowering: yes

Creeping jenny (aka moneywort) is a low-lying plant with cascading stems covered with penny-sized round leaves. Throughout the warmer months it will put out bright yellow flowers. This plant does best when planted just along the water’s edge so that it always stays wet. It’s really easy to care for and will die back in winter and emerge again in spring within its hardiness zones.

Perennial Farm Marketplace Lysimachia nummularia (Creeping Jenny) Groundcover, 1 Quart, Green Leaves with Yellow Flowers
Perennial Farm Marketplace Lysimachia nummularia (Creeping Jenny) Groundcover, 1 Quart, Green Leaves with Yellow Flowers

    Last update on 2020-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    3. Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

    Type: bog/marginal

    Perennial or Annual: perennial

    Hardiness zones: 3-9

    Care level: medium

    Small pond friendly: yes

    Flowering: yes

    Cardinal flower grows as a bunch of upright stems covered in finger-length pointed leaves. It puts out absolutely gorgeous inflorescences of blood red flowers.

    This is a great plant to add if you want to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. You will need to do a little deadheading and pruning to keep it looking its best, so I give it a care level of medium.

    Cardinal Lobelia Flower Attract Hummingbirds Butterfly Red Live Plant for Planting
    Cardinal Lobelia Flower Attract Hummingbirds Butterfly Red Live Plant for Planting

      Last update on 2020-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

      4. Horsetail Reed (Equisetum hyemale)

      Type: marginal

      Perennial or Annual: perennial

      Hardiness zones: 4-9

      Care level: easy

      Small pond friendly: can spread aggressively, plant in pots for a small pond to keep it contained

      Flowering: no

      Horsetail reed shoots up straight stalks that grow in sections, much like bamboo. In fact, if you like the look of bamboo, you’ll probably love this plant. This marginal plant likes to grow dense clusters of reeds along the shoreline.

      The reeds sprout up from a central rhizome under the water. This plant loves to spread, so it will need to be kept in pots or else it will quickly start taking over. Depending on the available light, it can grow between 2 and 6 feet tall (0.6-1.8  meters). 

      5. Northern Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor)

      Type: bog/marginal

      Perennial or Annual: perennial

      Hardiness zones: 3-9

      Care level: easy

      Small pond friendly: yes

      Flowering: yes

      If you’re at all familiar with regular garden irises, this blue flag is very similar in appearance. It shoots up a cluster of sword-shaped leaves from a central rhizome. The leaves can reach up to 2 feet (61 centimeters) and are a beautiful shade of soft blue green.

      As attractive as the foliage is, the blooms each spring are simply spectacular. They have large, delicate petals with yellow-orange throats and you’ll look forward to them every year. This plant is super easy to care for, it thrives on benign neglect.

      Iris versicolor (Northern Blue Flag Iris) Perennial, blue flowers, 1 - Size Container
      Iris versicolor (Northern Blue Flag Iris) Perennial, blue flowers, 1 - Size Container

        Last update on 2020-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

        6. Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum)

        Type: submerged

        Perennial or Annual: perennial

        Hardiness zones: 5-11

        Care level: medium

        Small pond friendly: yes

        Flowering: no

        Hornwort is a fully aquatic plant that is popular for both ponds and aquariums. This plant does not grow typical roots; instead it feeds directly from the water column through its stems and leaves. So, it’s best to weigh it down by tying it to rocks or other heavy objects. It will put out long, thin stems that will grow until they reach the water’s surface, up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) long!

        All along the stems grow pointy needle-like leaves that make the plant look like a bottle brush, or a racoon’s tail (hence the common name coontail).

        Hornwort does a great job of oxygenating the water and makes an excellent shelter for young fish to hide in. It should be pulled up and trimmed back when cold weather starts to set in, which is the only reason I mark it’s care as “medium.” Otherwise, it is extremely simple to grow.

        Greenpro | Hornwort Ceratophyllum Demersum Pond Oxygenating Live Aquarium Plants Package Freshwater Fish Tank (3 Bunch)
        Greenpro | Hornwort Ceratophyllum Demersum Pond Oxygenating Live Aquarium Plants Package Freshwater Fish Tank (3 Bunch)

          Last update on 2020-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

          7. Anacharis (Elodea candensis)

          Type: submerged

          Perennial or Annual: perennial

          Hardiness zones: 6-10

          Care level: medium

          Small pond friendly: yes

          Flowering: no

          Anacharis is very similar to hornwort in that it is a submerged plant that you just weigh down instead of planting in the substrate. It will also grow up to the surface of the pond. But it’s leaves are more broad so they don’t have the needle-like appearance that hornwort leaves do.

          Anacharis is a fast growing plant that will help beat back algae by sucking up nutrients. It makes an excellent shelter for fish and will help provide oxygen in the water. But, you do need to pull it up and trim it back as winter sets in.

          Greenpro 3 Bundles Anacharis Egeria Densa Elodea Live Aquarium Plants Freshwater Pond Aquatic Water Plant Decorations
          Greenpro 3 Bundles Anacharis Egeria Densa Elodea Live Aquarium Plants Freshwater Pond Aquatic Water Plant Decorations

            Last update on 2020-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

            8. Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)

            Type: floating

            Perennial or Annual: annual

            Hardiness zones: 9-11

            Care level: easy

            Small pond friendly: yes

            Flowering: no

            Water lettuce is an interesting floating plant with a pretty darn apt name, it does look a lot like floating lettuce plants. It’s extremely easy to grow, simply place it on the water’s surface and let it do its thing. It grows long roots that hang down and take up nutrients directly from the water column.

            It provides shade that helps keep algae at bay and the roots are great  for small fish. It does not, however, tolerate cold weather whatsoever. It will die back at the first frost and need to be removed from the pond and discarded. 

            12 Water Lettuce from John's Pond Plants Floating Water Garden KOI Pond Plants Nursery Grown in Florida Aquatics Plants Nursery
            12 Water Lettuce from John's Pond Plants Floating Water Garden KOI Pond Plants Nursery Grown in Florida Aquatics Plants Nursery

              Last update on 2020-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

              9. Water Hyacinth (Eichornia Crassipes)

              Type: floating

              Perennial or Annual: annual

              Hardiness zones: 9-11 

              Care level: easy

              Small pond friendly: yes

              Flowering: yes

              Water hyacinth forms floating mats of shiny leaves. Throughout the summer, it produces inflorescences of purple flowers with yellow throats. This is a very fast growing plant that is considered an invasive pest in many Southern states.

              It helps fight algae by creating shade and eating up nutrients from the water column before algae can use them. It is a great home for baby fish that can hide among its roots and stems.

              Sale
              Water Hyacinths Floating Water Garden Plants (5 Live Plants)
              Water Hyacinths Floating Water Garden Plants (5 Live Plants)

                Last update on 2020-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

                Water Lilies

                I have to admit some bias here, for me, the whole reason to have a pond is to grow water lilies. They’re widely popular, grown literally around the world, and are renowned for their beauty.

                I have broken them off into their own section because there are so many different kinds and I thought it might be helpful if you just have some basic facts.

                Then I’ll go over some of my favorites.

                Deep Water Plant

                Water lilies are true deep water plants. They grow from rhizomes that are planted in the substrate. They shoot up long stems, topped with floating leaves (lily pads), up to the surface of the water.

                Hardy vs. Tropical

                You will see water lilies listed as either “hardy” or “tropical.” 

                Hardy water lilies can live through cold winters as long as their rhizomes stay below the layer of ice in the pond. Their flowers and leaves will die back, but they will emerge again once the weather warms back up.

                Tropical water lilies cannot survive in cold water. So you have to treat them like an annual plant and expect that they’ll die once cold weather sets on. 

                When they start to turn brown, you pull the plants out and discard them. Then you can plant new ones next spring.

                10. Yellow Sensation Water Lily (Nymphaea sp.)

                Type: deep water

                Perennial or Annual: perennial 

                Hardiness zones: 4-11

                Care level: medium

                Small pond friendly: yes

                Flowering: yes

                Description: this variety puts out flat, dark green lily pads and stunning yellow flowers. It needs to be cut back to below the waterline before the pond freezes over in the winter. Other than that, this plant really doesn’t require much care.

                Live Aquatic Hardy Water Lily | Pre-Grown, Pre-Rooted, Hardy Water Lily for Your Pond or Patio Water Garden | Drop-N-Grow Convenience -Pink (Nymphaea 'Pink Venusta')
                Live Aquatic Hardy Water Lily | Pre-Grown, Pre-Rooted, Hardy Water Lily for Your Pond or Patio Water Garden | Drop-N-Grow Convenience -Pink (Nymphaea 'Pink Venusta')

                  Last update on 2020-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

                  11. Blue King Water Lily (Nymphaea geena)

                  Type: deep water

                  Perennial or Annual: annual

                  Hardiness zones: 9-11

                  Care level: medium

                  Small pond friendly: yes

                  Flowering: yes

                  This water lily is one of my favorites. It puts out large lily pads that tend to form a kind of ruffle around their edges. The flowers seem too gorgeous to be real. Just incredible. They’re a bright lavender with a yellow throat and a profusion of stamen that crowd the center.

                  Sale
                  Live Aquatic Plant Nymphaea Geena Blue Tropical Water Lilies Tuber for Aquarium Freshwater Fish Pond by Greenpro
                  Live Aquatic Plant Nymphaea Geena Blue Tropical Water Lilies Tuber for Aquarium Freshwater Fish Pond by Greenpro

                    Last update on 2020-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

                    12. Nymphaea alin

                    Type: deep water

                    Perennial or Annual: annual

                    Hardiness zones: 9-11

                    Care level: easy

                    Small pond friendly: yes 

                    Flowering: yes

                    Nymphaea Alin has dark purple flowers with an orange throat. The center sports a ring of bright orange stamen that make a beautiful contrast to the purple petals. This is a tropical lily, so expect to pull it out of the pond and discard it when the weather turns cold.

                    Sale
                    (Nymphaea Alin) Tropical Water Lily Tuber Live Aquatic Plants for Freshwater Fish Pets Pond Balcony Decorations by Greenpro
                    (Nymphaea Alin) Tropical Water Lily Tuber Live Aquatic Plants for Freshwater Fish Pets Pond Balcony Decorations by Greenpro

                      Last update on 2020-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

                      Which Is Right For You?

                      I hope that I’ve given you some food for thought when it comes to the best pond plants.

                      There is nothing more gorgeous than a well kept pond with lots of different plants. Mixing the different kinds of plants, like marginals, floating and deep water, help make a pond look more natural.

                      Plus, they help provide a healthier environment for fish and other pond inhabitants.

                      Preview Product
                      1 Blue Pickerel Water Plants Marginal 1 Blue Pickerel Water Plants Marginal
                      Perennial Farm Marketplace Lysimachia nummularia (Creeping Jenny) Groundcover, 1 Quart, Green Leaves with Yellow Flowers Perennial Farm Marketplace Lysimachia nummularia (Creeping Jenny) Groundcover, 1 Quart, Green Leaves...
                      Cardinal Lobelia Flower Attract Hummingbirds Butterfly Red Live Plant for Planting Cardinal Lobelia Flower Attract Hummingbirds Butterfly Red Live Plant for Planting
                      10 x Horsetail Plants for Koi Pond Bamboo Looking Exot 10 x Horsetail Plants for Koi Pond Bamboo Looking Exot
                      Iris versicolor (Northern Blue Flag Iris) Perennial, blue flowers, 1 - Size Container Iris versicolor (Northern Blue Flag Iris) Perennial, blue flowers, 1 - Size Container
                      Greenpro | Hornwort Ceratophyllum Demersum Pond Oxygenating Live Aquarium Plants Package Freshwater Fish Tank (3 Bunch) Greenpro | Hornwort Ceratophyllum Demersum Pond Oxygenating Live Aquarium Plants Package Freshwater...
                      Greenpro 3 Bundles Anacharis Egeria Densa Elodea Live Aquarium Plants Freshwater Pond Aquatic Water Plant Decorations Greenpro 3 Bundles Anacharis Egeria Densa Elodea Live Aquarium Plants Freshwater Pond Aquatic Water...
                      12 Water Lettuce from John's Pond Plants Floating Water Garden KOI Pond Plants Nursery Grown in Florida Aquatics Plants Nursery 12 Water Lettuce from John's Pond Plants Floating Water Garden KOI Pond Plants Nursery Grown in...
                      Water Hyacinths Floating Water Garden Plants (5 Live Plants) Water Hyacinths Floating Water Garden Plants (5 Live Plants)
                      Live Aquatic Hardy Water Lily | Pre-Grown, Pre-Rooted, Hardy Water Lily for Your Pond or Patio Water Garden | Drop-N-Grow Convenience -Pink (Nymphaea 'Pink Venusta') Live Aquatic Hardy Water Lily | Pre-Grown, Pre-Rooted, Hardy Water Lily for Your Pond or Patio Water...
                      Live Aquatic Plant Nymphaea Geena Blue Tropical Water Lilies Tuber for Aquarium Freshwater Fish Pond by Greenpro Live Aquatic Plant Nymphaea Geena Blue Tropical Water Lilies Tuber for Aquarium Freshwater Fish Pond...
                      (Nymphaea Alin) Tropical Water Lily Tuber Live Aquatic Plants for Freshwater Fish Pets Pond Balcony Decorations by Greenpro (Nymphaea Alin) Tropical Water Lily Tuber Live Aquatic Plants for Freshwater Fish Pets Pond Balcony...

                      Last update on 2020-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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