by Jennifer Poindexter
Do you have a small body of water on your property that you’d like to add plants to? Finding plants that work well for a small pond can be tricky.
Many people prefer floating plants because they add simple beauty and host a few other benefits as well.
If you’re curious why you should add floating plants to your pond, how to plant them, which plants you should consider, and which you should plant with care or avoid altogether, you’ve come to the right source.
Here’s everything you should know about floating plants for your small pond:
Why Use Floating Plants in Your Small Pond?
Floating plants are a great way to care for your small pond. It’s typical for untreated bodies of water to develop issues with algae.
It’s also difficult to regulate oxygen levels in the water. This is an issue if you’re planning on keeping fish or other living creatures around your pond.
By adding floating plants, they absorb excess nutrients in the water. When they soak up the nutrients, there’s less left for algae to absorb and take over your pond.
Floating plants are also a great way to add oxygen to your water. This is vital for the health of the fish which live in your pond.
Finally, floating plants provide a place of shade and protection for fish in your pond. During certain points in the day, fish need a break from the sun.
A floating plant is this haven for them. It also gives them a place to hide in the event they’re being preyed upon by a bird flying overhead or a cat stalking around the pond.
These are a few reasons you may wish to add floating plants to your small pond. Now, let’s discuss how you add these plants to your body of water.
How to Plant Floating Plants in Your Small Pond
If you’ve ever planted a garden, you might be wondering how you go about “planting” floating plants. There are some cases where the plants grow in shallow areas, so you actually plant them in the soil.
In most cases, with floating plants, you place them in a shaded location in your pond. You may keep your plants together, by placing them in a floating container.
The plants should remain in the shade for two days. This will give them time to rehydrate. After the two day period, you may release the plants into the pond.
They’ll float around and develop roots in the water. Should you choose to plant something that easily takes over your pond, it’s best to keep the plants in the floating container.
Therefore, you may easily remove it should the plant become too much. This is the basic process to planting floating plants in your pond.
Floating Plants for a Small Pond
Now that you understand why you might wish to add floating plants to your pond, and how to do so, let’s discuss your options:
1. Cardinal Flower
The cardinal flower is named this because of its bright red bloom. Its color also is great for attracting hummingbirds and butterflies.
If you’d like to add some color to your pond, this plant is hardy in zones five through nine. It grows to be between two and three feet and will require full sun to thrive.
2. Dwarf Papyrus
The dwarf papyrus has distinct wispy heads atop long green stems. They’re hardy in planting zones eight through ten.
However, if you’d like to grow this floating plant outside of these zones, they work well as annuals in colder climates. These plants will need full to partial sunlight to thrive in your pond.
3. Water Hyacinth
Water hyacinth is one of my favorite options on this list because of the beauty they bring to the table. This plant produces lavender blooms and grows to be approximately a half foot tall.
These flowers are hardy in planting zones nine through eleven and require full to partial sunlight to thrive. Water hyacinth is a great plant for cleaning your pond, but they can spread quickly. Therefore, you must thin them out periodically.
The azolla plant also goes by the name mosquito fern. It produces many green leaves that float atop your pond.
This plant is great for discouraging algae and removing pollutants from the water. It does best in full sunlight as the light changes the leaves from green to pink or red.
5. Duck Weed
Duck weed is a wonderful option if you have waterfowl near your pond. Many farmers grow duck weed in containers to feed their ducks. This plant is also good for feeding turtles, tadpoles, and fish a nutrient dense diet.
This plant will cover the surface of your pond and does well in shallow water. However, it will need room to spread. Should you add duck weed to your pond, it’s a great defense against algae as well.
6. Sensitive Plant
The sensitive plant is a tropical option that produces small yellow blooms over the summer months. This plant gets its name because its fern-shaped foliage will curl in when touched.
Beyond adding beauty to your small pond, this floating plant is a great option for controlling algae and adding nitrogen to your pond.
7. Yerba Mansa
Would you like to have a splash of color in your pond? Yerba mansa produces small white flowers with a cone-shaped center.
This plant will bloom all summer long and add natural beauty to your surroundings. Yerba mansa thrives in partial sunlight and is hardy in planting zones four through ten.
8. Dwarf Sweetflag
I’m a fan of having grassy plants near a pond. It provides subtle beauty to your landscape and makes colorful plants pop against a grassy background. If you like this look as well, check into growing dwarf sweetflag.
This plant produces green and white grass and grows in both shallow and deeper waters. The plant reaches a mature height of one foot and thrives in full to partial sunlight. Dwarf sweetflag is hardy in planting zones five through nine.
9. Helvola Waterlily
Waterlily varieties are a great choice for small ponds because they add a great deal of beauty while also providing protection for animals in your pond. Helvola waterlily produces star-shaped blooms that are three inches wide with a two inch pad beneath it.
This plant will bloom over the summer months and thrives in full to partial sunlight. Helvola waterlily should return each year in planting zones four through ten.
Salvinia looks like a floating fern. If you’re looking for a simple plant for your pond, this may be a great choice for you. The main thing you must do to care for salvinia is trimming it regularly.
However, if cared for properly, salvinia provides shade to your pond which is great for discouraging algae. It also uses excess nutrients in the water which is a second layer of deterrence for algae.
Frogbit is another simple floating plant. This plant produces flat, green leaves that will float atop the water.
As these plants grow, the leaves will slightly pop out of the water. This is vital because if they remain submerged for too long, they’ll rot. Be sure to thin this plant frequently to keep it under control.
12. Parrots Feather
The last few plants on our list are thought to be good options for shallow ponds but will need regular maintenance to avoid becoming invasive.
Parrot feathers produce wispy bright green foliage and have long red stems. They grow to be about four inches tall and need full sunlight to thrive. These plants are hardy in zones five and higher.
13. Pickerel Plant
Pickerel plant is another option that needs your care to serve its purpose without becoming invasive. This plant produces colorful vertical blooms in blue, purple, and pink.
It will become up to three feet tall and needs full to partial sunlight. If you live in planting zones three through eight, these plants should return each year.
Taro is a mixture of dark purple stems and green shiny leaves. It can reach heights up to three feet and thrives in full to partial sunlight.
You can expect taro to return each year in planting zones eight through ten. Like a few previously mentioned, this plant must be thinned periodically.
15. Water Lettuce
Our final option for a floating plant in your small pond is water lettuce. This is a simple plant which produces green rosettes with a velvety texture.
These plants are hardy in planting zones nine through eleven and need full to partial sunlight to thrive. In other planting zones, the plants will die off when temperatures drop below 64-degrees Fahrenheit. Thin these plants as needed to keep them under control in your pond.
When pruning any plants mentioned above, be mindful of how you discard the clippings because these plants could cause issues if they end up in other bodies of water including ponds, rivers, lakes, or ditches.
Floating Plants Which Might Be Considered Invasive for Your Small Pond
This next section discusses plants that should be avoided in most cases. These plants are considered invasive.
Should you choose to grow these plants, as they are quite beautiful, they must be grown in a way they can be easily contained.
These are the options you should avoid planting in your small pond:
1. Creeping Jenny
Creeping Jenny is a low growing plant that produces green foliage and yellow blooms. It only grows to be about three inches tall and is also called moneywort.
2. Swamp or Bog Lily
The swamp or bog lily produces beautiful trumpet-shaped blooms. They thrive in full sun and grow to be as tall as three feet.
Cattails were once a common addition to many ponds. Now, it’s advised to plant them with care as they’re considered invasive. These plants can reach heights up to five feet and are still a nice option to filter your pond water if done so carefully.
4. Water Snowflake
The water snowflake appears just as its name suggests. This plant produces fuzzy white flowers that float atop your pond. Though beautiful, this plant is considered invasive and should be grown with care or avoided altogether.
Canna is our final plant that should be treated carefully when added to your small pond. This plant is tall and produces brightly colored blooms. Though people lean towards them due to their natural beauty, they’re still invasive and should be avoided when possible.
You now have a variety of options for floating plants in a small pond. Plus, you know which plants should be avoided or treated with respect when being added to your pond.
Choose plants that will add to the health of your pond, serve as a shelter to fish, and also add natural beauty to your surroundings. Once you find plants that meet these needs and work in your planting zone, begin adding them to your small pond.