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creating a balance in your water garden

by dig the dirt editor

Create a self-sustaining eco-system in your water garden with the right combination of plants and fish.



A complete aquatic habitat should include each of the following types of water plants:

Oxygenating plants: 

  • They grow beneath the water's surface and help control the growth of algae (because they compete with algae for food)
  • They add oxygen to the water, shelter spawning fish, and absorb carbon dioxide given off by the fish in your pond. Oxygenating plants include anacharis (Elodea densa), Parrot's feather (Myriophyllum brasilienese), moneywort , and red hygrophilia (Hygrophilia polysperma rubra).


parrot's feather

Bog or marginal plants:

  • thrive in the moist conditions of the pond's edge.
  • provide height and color around your water garden as well as a habitat for insects that visiting frogs and toads will find tasty.

Hardy plants:

  • For marginal plants that overwinter in your water garden, try, the lancelike foliage of pickerel rush (Pontederia cordata) which bears bright, blue flower spikes in midsummer or zebra rush (Scirpus lacustris 'Albescens') with its tall stems ringed with gold bands.
  • Try a bamboo-like horsetail; it's available in a tall reed form (Equisetum hyemale) for large water gardens and a dwarf variety (Equisetum scirpoides) for smaller ones
  • Cattails are another plant that thrive in shallow water conditions.



Tropical plants:

  • Papyrus grows 4 to 5 feet tall and produces eye-catching topknots of foliage
  • For smaller water gardens or containers, try dwarf papyrus; it grows just 2 feet tall
  • Other excellent tropicals include taro, umbrella palm, tropical water canna, and pickerel rush.


umbrella palm


Floating plants:

  • live on the surface of the water and don't have anchored root systems
  • free-floating foliage provides shelter for fish and helps shade out algae
  • Species include water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes), water hyacinth (Eichornia crassipes), salvinia (Salvinina rotundifolia) and duckweed (Lemna minor).



Blooming plants:

  • water lilies and lotus, are the prime reason more and more gardeners are taking the plunge into water gardening
  • these plants offer color, fragrance, and extraordinary foliage.


water lily 'director moore'


balancing out your water garden, water garden plants, ecosystem in a water garden