How to choose plants that thrive next to your garden pond

Choosing plants for the area around your pond or other water feature can be a fun and satisfying task. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you go through the selection process.

How to choose plants that thrive next to your garden pond

Adding containers

As you landscape around your water feature, leave a few unplanted places that are big enough to accommodate large containers that can be filled with flowering annuals.

  • Colourful annuals grown in containers near the water's edge could include any of these: coleus, dusty miller, fan flower, licorice plant, moss verbena, pansy, petunia, Swan River daisy, sweet alyssum, and sweet potato vine.
  • Experiment with colour all you like, but feature plants that have fine leaf texture or a cascading habit. These traits make plants especially handsome when they are positioned near water.
  • Perennials with interesting textures can also make fine container subjects for sunny ponds. For example, low containers planted with species of short, waving ornamental grasses or a flock of succulent hens and chicks offers riveting contrasts and reflections when placed near the water.

Tall plants for hot climates

If you live where summers are hot, sun may heat the water in your pond so much that neither fish nor plants can remain healthy there.

  • Placing a few tall, upright plants like Joe Pye weed or ornamental grasses on the south or west side of a sunny pond will provide cooling, life-giving shade during hot summer afternoons.

Dressing the edges

The lowest bank of a pond where water is likely to overflow after heavy rains, is a prime spot for growing plants that tolerate temporary flooding.

  • Some good choices include groundcover bugleweed and flowering perennials like bee balm.
  • Many primroses and some iris species can grow in nearly bog-like conditions, and their upright stature is beautiful when mirrored on the water's surface.
  • Along the high banks of streams or ponds, which remain dry when the lower banks overflow, consider creating a gravel beach. Tuck clumps of low-growing, gray-green foliaged dianthus, or ground-hugging, fragrant creeping thyme into planting pockets between the stone. Add a swaying clump of ornamental grass or succulent, flowering sedums.
  • Prime plant possibilities for a pond-side rock garden include candytuft, hens and chickens, moss phlox, and sun rose.
  • Mulching these plants with small pebbles creates a clean, natural look that is especially attractive in close company with water.

Softening plants for hard edges

If you have a water feature that is trimmed in stone, look for lowgrowing plants that have graceful, cascading habits.

  • Soften the hard edges of the stones by interplanting them with ground-hugging candy - tuft and thyme, cascading petunia, spreading dianthus, or dainty sweet alyssum.
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