Water Plants & Water Gardening

Water plants offer a variety of beautiful plants for ponds and containers. Choose a combination of plants with different colors, textures, blooms, and foliage for contrast and interest.

Types of Water Plants

Water plants consist of two types called marginals and floaters. Marginal plants aren’t truly aquatic, but consistently need very moist soil. They generally do well in shallow water along the border of a pond or in anywhere in the garden where the soil stays moist. Floaters float at the water’s surface, and do well anywhere in a pond or container.

Below is a list of water plants usually carried at America’s Best Flowers.

Water Plants
Botanical Name
Common Name
Acorus calamusSweet Flag
Anemopsis canadensisBear Root
Caltha palustrisMarsh Marigold
Colocasia esculentaTaro
Cyperus papyrusPapyrus
Equisetum hyemaleHorsetail Rush
IrisJapanese & Louisiana Iris
Juncus effusus 'Spiralis'Corkscrew Rush
Mimulus ringensLavender Musk
NelumboMini Lotus
NymphaeaHardy Water Lily
Oryza sativaRed Rice
Pontederia cordataPurple Pickerel Rush
Ruellia brittonianaDwarf Bells
Ruellia elegansWild Petunia
Rumex sanguineusRed Water Dock
Salvinia oblongifoliaJumbo Salvinia (floater)
SarraceniaPitcher Plant
Scirpus tabernaemontani 'Zebrinus'Zebra Rush
Sisyrinchium angustifoliumBlue-eyed Grass
Typha latifoliaCattail
Zantedeschia aethiopicaCommon Calla


Many people don’t realize that you don’t need a large pond to grow and enjoy water plants. Water plants can be grown in a container, which can be as simple as filling a non-draining container with water and placing plants in it. Marginal plants are planted by placing the entire container at the level that the plant needs, by propping it up, with something like bricks, in the container, and floaters are placed anywhere in the container. Any container that holds water can be used, even small containers only big enough for a few plants, and the plants can be treated as annuals.

Pre-made containers are available at America’s Best Flowers which are ready to go. Simply water occasionally to keep water at appropriate level based on the individual plant needs.


Most water plants prefer full sun, though some prefer some shade. Algae can cause the water to become green, but adding floaters shades the water, which can help prevent algal growth. If water gets really green, use a hose to run water into the container and help flush out algae.


If there’s enough room, goldfish can be added. They feed on the roots of plants and insects, including mosquito larvae, so they usually don’t need to be fed. Plus, their waste is natural plant fertilizer. Over winter, fish can be brought indoors and fed fish food until spring.


Generally, pond plants don’t need much fertilizer. Adding a fertilizer pellet called Pondtabbs to the soil of marginal plants at planting is usually sufficient, though isn’t necessary if fish are present. Always read and follow label instructions.


Mosquitoes deposit eggs into standing water and their larvae develop below the surface. Fish will eat the larvae, but if fish aren’t present, use Mosquito Dunks to kill larvae before they become adults. The active ingredient of Mosquito Dunks is a naturally occurring bacterium called¬†Bacillus thuringiensis, which is a safer alternative to traditional pesticides for organic gardening. Always read and follow label instructions.