Aquatic Plants for Ponds in VA

Materials: Plants; Trees; Bushes; Grass; Flowers; Shrubs; Perennials; and Annuals.

What are the best plants for my pond?

Are you struggling with what to plant in your pond, pondless waterfall, or fountain? The right plants can take an ordinary water feature and make it simply extraordinary. They can take a basic water feature and turn it into an oasis!
The best part? The benefits of adding plants go beyond simple aesthetics. The right plants can keep your water crystal clear by absorbing excess nutrients in the water.
Additionally, adding the right plants will help attract native wildlife to your outdoor space, including pollinators and beneficial insects. Plants with nectar-producing flowers can provide a food source for hosts of butterflies, bees and other important insects. Birds will also appreciate native plants with berries and foliage that they can make use of!
I’ve broken down this plant list into three main categories: plants you can put in the pond, plants for the edge/near the pond, and those that make a good backdrop for your landscape. All of these plants do well in our Zone 7, and many of them will do well outside of this particular zone as well (Zone 4-9). The list here is not exhaustive, as there are many, many more options available. These are just my favorites- the plants we’ve been successful with and those that I personally gravitate towards.
The Best Plants for Ponds

In the Pond

All of these plants will add color and texture to your feature. Most aquatic plants fill in quickly, doubling, tripling or even quadrupling in size over the course of just one season. It is important to note though, that these plants can overtake a pond if not kept in check. One way to help curb aquatic or marginal plant growth is to use geo-textile fabric planting pockets. These can help avoid major pruning from season to season.
Depending on the type of plant you choose – you’ll want to plant directly in the water or close enough for the roots to work their way over. If you have a bog or open filter, I love to plant Elephant Ears (Colocasia) and/or Mexican Petunia (Ruellia) directly into the bog/filter.



Around the Pond

Add texture, color, and interest to the 1-10′ perimeter of the pond with these plants. Many will also attract wildlife and nature straight to the water. I will often use plants from this list to “hide” a water feature. I love the look of flowing water peeking out from behind flowers and thick foliage. If you space these plants just right, you can avoid shearing or pruning throughout the season.

All of these are my favorites, but I especially love a few blueberry bushes, mixed with St. John’s Wort, and a Fatsia. Then add Coneflowers, Nepeta, and Pink Muhly Grass into the area and you are set!



Backdrop of the Pond

These plants are perfect to provide the backdrop to a water feature, or sometimes simply to block the view of a neighboring home or structure. We’ve also used these plants to close off an area to create a more intimate space. My favorite out of these plants are Winterberry Holly, Limelight Hydrangea, and Redbud Tree. The occasional Fig is really fun too, especially if you enjoy their fruit.



Micah's Plant Guide Summary

I know my personal biases show through pretty strongly in this plant list! Hopefully though, it can be a helpful guide for you as you pick out plants to accent your koi pond, waterfall, or other type of water feature.
If you’ve already chosen the plants around your pond and they didn’t work out, don’t give up. Try something new and different, and make sure to have fun and enjoy the gardening journey. And hey- maybe rescue some random plants off the clearance rack at Lowe’s and see how they do.
I’d love to hear from you. What have you tried and enjoyed in your pond or water feature?