Water gardens are often the most beautiful gardens around any home. The blending of water and earth creates a corresponding balance that relaxes the body and mind as it inspires the soul. Yet water gardens can be intimidating, too.
At first glance they may seem to be complicated places filled with unfamiliar plants with unusual needs. Happily, aquatic plants can be simpler to care for than they first appear. Whether you want delicate floating plants, exotic water lilies, or carnivorous bog dwellers, you'll find suitable choices for your taste and climate conditions.
The beautiful yet undemanding aquatic plants featured in our water garden plants section are sure to brighten your spirits as well as your garden for years to come.
Aquatic plants — also called hydrophytic plants or hydrophytes — are plants that have adapted to living in or on aquatic environments.
Because living on or under the water surface requires numerous special adaptations, aquatic plants can only grow in water or permanently saturated soil.
Aquatic vascular plants can be ferns or angiosperms (from both monocot and dicot families). Seaweeds are not vascular plants but multicellular marine algae, and therefore not typically included in the category, "aquatic plants." As opposed to plants types such as mesophytes and xerophytes, hydrophytes do not have a problem in retaining water due to the abundance of water in its environment. This means the plant has less need to regulate transpiration (indeed, the regulation of transpiration would require more energy than the possible benefits incurred.)
Aquatic plants have many functions in the water garden. The obvious is that they provide beauty. The foliage and flowers offer the finishing touches to complete a dazzling aquatic display.
Pondkeepers with an understanding of filtration know the nitrification cycle and how plants play their role. Fish naturally secrete ammonia into the pond water. Biological filtration works to convert the ammonia into nitrites then the nitrites into nitrates. The nitrates are then used by the plants. If there are not enough plants using up the nitrates in your pond, you end up with an algae bloom (in extreme cases of nitrate buildup the fish may suffer as well). Plants that cover the pond surface also reduce algae by limiting the amount of sunlight reaching the water. For the best balance in a water garden around 2/3 of the pond surface should be covered with plant foliage.
Another, often overlooked, use of plants in the pond is protecting your fish from hungry predators. Whether it is tall plants at the water's edge that help prevent a raccoon from reaching the pond or the water lily pads covering the surface that give the fish a place to hide from a heron, a few plants may be all that is needed to avoid making a meal out of your pet fish.