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Doug’s Favorite Pond Plants

Here is a list of aquatic marginal plants that we have planted in ponds here in Southeastern Wisconsin.  For the most part we try to only plant zone 4 or lower pond plants as we have the best luck with them.  Feel free to experiment and plant what you’d like.  Remember, the more pretty plants that are in our ponds the less nutrients that will be available for the algae to grow.  Plant lots of pretty plants.  I would much rather have a pond with too many of these plants listed below than a sparsely planted pond with a bunch of algae.  We always plant directly into the gravel of the pond and we never use pots.  We dig down to the rubber and hold the plant there while we cover the roots with rock and gravel.  We want the plant’s roots to spread through the gravel.  This gives us a large mat of roots to help clean our water.  Many of these pond plants grow quickly.  This is an advantage because the more quickly they grow, the more nutrients they take in.  This quick growth can be a challenge because many of the plants will spread rather quickly and will need to be controlled.

Plant Description Max Height Max Planting Depth Min Zone
Caltha palustris (Marsh Marigold) Small green leaves, yellow flowers only in spring. 12″ 4″ 2
Equisetum hymale (Horsetail or Scouring Rush) Jointed stems, a very different look. 36″ 6″ 2
Equisetum sciorpoides (Mini-Horsetail Rush) Jointed stems, dainty, but hardy . 8″ 2″ 2
Scirpus tabernaemontani var. zebrinus (Zebra Rush) Bold cream and white barring. 36″ 12″ 2
Thypa varieties (Cattail) Common cattail, very hardy, can be hard to manage if let go too long. 48″ 12″ 2
Aponogeton distachys (Water Hawthorn) Floating leaves, white flowers with maroon spots, spring and fall.  Not too familiar with this one 0″ 12″ 3
Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed) Loved by monarch butterflys. 48″ 2″ 3
Juncus effusus spiralis (Corkscrew Rush) An unusual plant with twisting stems.  Have had moderate success with this plant, seems touchy. 12″ 6″ 3
Juncus effusus (Common Rush) Dark green, reed like foliage. 18″ 6″ 3
Juncus effusus (Gold Strike Rush) Dark green with golden vertical stripes. 18″ 6″ 3
Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower) Brilliant scarlet spikes. Have had moderate luck with this plant.  Maybe we plant it too deep? 36″ 2″ 3
Pontederia cordata (pickerel Rush) Blue spike flowers, sun or shade. 36″ 12″ 3
Sagittaria latifolia (Arrowhead) White flowers, attractive arrow shaped leaves. 24″ 12″ 3
Scirpus lacustris var. ‘alba’ (White Bulrush) Beautiful white striped rush. 36″ 12″ 3
Thypa sp. var. ‘Europa’ (Mini-Cattail) Tiny cattails over blue green foliage, a great plant. 12″ 12″ 3
Menyanthes trifoliata (Bogbean) Trailing interesting plant with spring white flowers. 6″ 6″ 3
Acorus calamus (Sweet Flag) Green Iris type foliage. 36″ 6″ 4
Acorus calamus var. variegata (Variegated Sweetflag) Iris type foliage, bold white and green variegation. 30″ 6″ 4
Butomus umbellatus (Flowering Rush) Pink umbels of flowers over straplike leaves. 24″ 6″ 4
Carex muskinensis (Palm Sedge) Very full sedge. 24″ 6″ 4
Eriophorum spp. (Cotton Grass) Tufts of cottony seeds heads on this attractive grass. 12″ 4″ 4
Glyceria variegata (Glyceria Grass) Graceful striped green and white grass. 24″ 6″ 4
Eleocaris sp. (Spike Rush) Fine spikey foliage, topped with small brown seed heads. 12″ 4″ 4
Euphorbia palustrus (Water Spurge) White airy flowers, bright golden orange foliage in fall. 24″ 2″ 4
Iris pseudocorus (Yellow Flag Iris) Beautiful yellow flowers, attractive foliage. 48″ 6″ 4
Iris vericolor (Blue Flag Iris) Beautiful blue flowers. 36″ 6″ 4
Iris ensata (Japanese Iris) Beautiful large, flat creped blooms, mixed colors. 36″ 6″ 4
Iris Louisiana (Louisiana Iris) Large, bold flowers, many varieties available. 36″ 6″ 4
Iris siberica (Siberian Iris) Mixed colors, smaller flowers over narrow foliage. 24″ 6″ 4
Juncus glauca (Blue Rush) Steel blue spikes. 24″ 6″ 4
Ligusticum umbelliferae (Water Celery) Bright green foliage, flowers, floating.  Grows well and fast.  Will creep to shore and be hard to control. 6″ 6″ 4
lysimachia nummularia (Creeping Jenny) Ruffled little leaves of bright yellow, tiny yellow flowers.  Will creep onto shore and be hard to control 48″ 2″ 4
Mimulus ringens (Monkey Flower) Lavender flowers, long blooming. 24″ 6″ 4
Myositis aquatica (Forget Me Not) Lots of bright blue flowers over clear green foliage. 12″ 4″ 4
Phragmites australis aurea (Golden Reed) Bright yellow green foliage. 24″ 6″ 4
Ranunculus repens (Buttered Popcorn) Bright mound of gold and green variegated foliage. 12″ 2″ 4
Saururus cernuus (Lizard Tail) Fragrant white flowers in graceful drooping spikes. 24″ 6″ 4
Nymphoides peltata (Floating Heart) yellow blooms, small lily-like leaves, Fast trailers.  May be invasive, must be aggressively managed. 1″ 24″ 4
Acorus gramineus var. variegata ( Japanese Sweetflag) A small version of standard sweet flag. 12″ 6″ 5
Acorus graminius var. variegata ‘Ogon’ (Japanese Sweetflag) Variegated leaves of green and gold foliage. 12″ 6″ 5
Alisma plantago (Water Plantain) Light pink or white airy flowers over attractive foliage. 24″ 4″ 5
Carex stricta var. ‘Bowles Golden ‘ (Golden Sedge) Beautiful golden leaves. 12″ 2″ 5
Hibiscus sp Giant 8-10′”flowers, available in white or pink. 48″ 6″ 5
Houttuynia cordata var.’Chameleon’ Pink, white, and green variegated heart shaped leaves. Haven’t had good luck with this. 12″ 4″ 5
Hydrocotyle sp. (Pennywort) Trailing plant with small scalloped parasol leaves. 72″ 2″ 5
Mentha aquatica (Aquatic Mint) Fragrant pink flowers over aromatic foliage. 12″ 6″ 5
Mimulus gluttens (Yellow Monkey Flower) Trailing plant, yellow flowers with red speckles. 12″ 2″ 5
Orontium aquaticum (Golden Club) White spike flowers with bright golden tips. 12″ 6″ 5
Peltandra virginica (Water Arum) White calla bloom over glossy green arrow-shaped leaves. 12″ 6″ 5
Phragmites australis (Candy Stripe Reed) Pink, green, and white striped grassy foliage. 24″ 6″ 5
Spartina pectinata var. aureomarginata (Variegated Cordgrass) Yellow edges on graceful leaves. 36″ 6″ 5
Veronica beccabunga (Veronica) Trailing shiny leaves, small blue flowers all summer. 0″ 6″ 5

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