The common images that come to mind at the mention of pond plants usually include such classics as water lilies, iris, and cat-tail. These can all be useful and successful plants for aquatic plantings, but consider including some of the following easy and attractive water plants in your pond or water feature:
Marsh Marigold (Caltha spp.) – Bright yellow spring flowers cover this short, moderately spreading shallow water plant. At the very end of the bloom, you can let them finish up and they’ll flower again next year, or you can cut them back before seeds set and they will bloom again in early summer. Can be planted outside of pond in moist soil or in the water up to 4″ over the top of the roots. Marsh marigold can also be used as a perennial in wet or heavily irrigated landscapes outside of water features, though it frequently goes dormant in the summer unless constantly wet. There are some native species.
Scarlet Rose Mallow (Hibiscus coccineus) – This 4 to 5 ft tall clumping perennial with tropical looking and elegant leaves puts on a dramatic show of bright red flowers in late summer. Plant in wet soil outside of pond, or in water up to 3″ over the roots; also makes a nice perennial in very well watered landscapes.
Arrowhead (Sagittaria spp.) – Unique foliage reaches 1 to 2 ft above the water surface, and the white flower spike may be a foot or more above that. A vigorous and spreading plant that loves bog or moderately shallow water – up to 4- 6″ over the roots for younger plantings, but may work itself deeper over time. There is a native species.
River Lily (Schizostylis coccinea) – Short spreading iris-like foliage produces stunning pink or scarlet flowers in summer and fall. River lilies perform their best in moist soils at the edge of a stream or pond, not submerged. They also make good perennials in well drained but well irrigated landscapes.
Hardy Water Canna (Thalia dealbata) – bluish-green oval leaves project up and out from tall stalks up to 3 ft above the water surface. Purple flowers in the summer are unique and interesting,though not dramatic – but they are a favorite landing pad for larger dragonflies. Water canna can be planted just barely submerged, but at some risk if we have a severe winter; it is best planted with at least 6″ and as much as 18″ of water over the roots.
Rain Lily (Zephyr Lily) (Zephyranthes spp.) – narrow grassy foliage sprouts relatively large white or pink flowers with a pleasant fragrance. Flowers are sporadic, opening a few at a time from summer to fall. Plant rain llilies shallow, from right at water surface to 3″ water over the roots.