Perennials as Water Plants
Here are a few common garden perennials that will thrive in damp, soggy, or wet soil conditions in and around your water garden. All are in our perennial section at Hoerr Nursery.
Often times repotting these plants into a suitable media for water gardening may be necessary, as our standard mix for terrestrial perennials is primarily composed of bark (this would float away!) Most pond plants do well in an even mixture of silty clay loam soil, and sand. Be certain to use a pot suitable for water plants as well, these are designed not to leak any soil into your pond like standard pots will.
For fertilizing, fertilizer pellets designed for aquatic plants work very well for most perennials when used once a month.
Be certain to give these plants time to acclimate into their new homes, do this by lowering the plant into the pond until the crown of the plant is just above the water surface, gently lower to desired depth over the next three to four weeks.
Chelone lyonii, Turtle Head
A good choice for the partially shaded border, or background. Don’t plant this one very deep in your pond, preferably keep its crowns just at or above the water line.
Lobelia spp & hybrids, Cardinal Flower
Excellent as backdrop plants in the water garden. These plants attract both hummingbirds and butterflies. Try pairing these with Swamp Milkweed to attract more butterflies to your pond. These will tolerate a little bit of water over their crowns, but not much. Beware of snails on these plants, they are every bit as fond of them as terrestrial slugs are!
Equisetum hymale & scorpoides, Horsetail Reed
These plants are renowned for their vigorous nature. Horsetail can be used in water over its crown, if it is adapted to it very slowly over several seasons. Equisetum fluvitale, Water Horsetail, is much better adapted to aquatic culture than E. hymale. Use E. scorpoides, Miniature Horsetail, as an edging plant. It does not tolerate water over its crown either.
Physostegia, Obedient Plant
Can make a good ground cover; apparently took some lessons from the mint family. Prefers damp to wet soil, doesn’t like water over its crown.
Asclepias incarnata, Swamp Milkweed
An excellent choice to use for attracting butterflies to your pond. Place plant crowns at water level, or just above it.
Lysmachia nummularia, Creeping Jenny
Use this as a groundcover around your pond, happily it roots into the water as well.
Iris siberica, versicolor, ensata, crestata, lavegata, pseudocourus, and all varieties included under the Louisiana group. All of these adapt very well to aquatic culture, and are well suited for bare rooting into your pond as they are not terribly aggressive. These plants can tolerate up to 6″ of water over their crowns
Beware of this one! This plant is the definition of invasiveness. Seedless varieties are available, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Be a gardener with a conscience, AVOID this plant
Houttuynia cordata, Hoot’n Annie
Plant this in about 1-2″ of water and watch out! Makes an excellent groundcover, or border plant for shallower areas of your pond. Can be rather invasive; do not plant this in any area where it may escape.
Ranunculus repens ‘Buttered Popcorn’
A great plant for the borders and shallow areas of your pond. Very prolific; may require thinning. Unusually variegated gold and green foliage brightens and adds interest to the garden.
Ruella, Impatiens, Fiber Optics, Rush, Coleus, Canna and Caladium.
Use these for seasonal interest only. Most prefer shallow water, however Canna adapt well to water over 6″ deep. When utilizing Canna as a water plant, be certain the type of Canna you choose is adaptable to water as there are several distinct species. The Longwood Hybrids Canna offer the best tolerance to water.
Ligularia, Golden Ray
This plant needs constantly wet to damp soil. Use this one in the border or as an accent plant. May need some winter protection in zone 5 and above.