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Water Plants for Small Ponds in Complete Sun

Small ponds provide a number of the very same benefits as a sizable body of water, but without taking up a great deal of room. Adding plants to the pond will create a balanced ecosystem while providing hiding places, food and nesting areas. If the small pond receives six to eight hours or more of sunlight, then pick pond plants that thrive in full sunlight.

Marginal Plants

Some species of grasslike aquatic plants grow best in the borders or margin of small ponds. Needle spikerush (Eleocharis acicularis) and corcksrew rush (Juncus effusus spiralis) are just two such marginal plants that won’t overtake the small pond with large leaf. Needle spikerush — sometimes called dwarf hairgrass — rises to only about 8 inches tall in shallow water or along the edge of slopes. It provides shelter and protection for tadpoles and small fish. It grows in full sunlight in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9. Corkscrew rush is somewhat taller, reaching about 1 foot tall in USDA zones 4 through 9. This sun-loving plant creates green stems that develop in a corkscrew-like contour you’re able to cut and use in floral arrangements.


Waterlilies are traditional in ponds of all sizes, floating on the water’s surface with their big leaf pads. Several of the smaller species of waterlily work nicely in smaller ponds. Dwarf hardy waterlily (Nymphaea candida) spreads around 3 to 4 foot wide and creates stunning white flowers that appear in May and last until September. Hardy waterlilies grow best in full sunlight in USDA zones 3 through 10. A lot of other cultivars of dwarf waterlilies grow nicely in small ponds. As an instance, “Andreana” dwarf waterlily (Nymphaea x “Andreana”) spreads about 2 feet across with burnt red blooms that protrude 1 to 2 inches above the water. “Andreana” grows in full sunlight in USDA zones 3 through 12.

Floating Acids

Fairy moss (Azolla caroliniana) and water poppy (Hydrocleys nymphoides) are just two floating aquatic plants that will fit in any size of pond. Fairy moss has bright green fernlike fronds that roam across the surface of shallow water in USDA zones 5 through 11. It grows best in full sunlight and the foliage turns shades of red in autumn. Fairy moss can be somewhat aggressive but if grown in a small pond, control ought to be easy with frequently upkeep. Water poppy is just another sun-loving floating plant that grows well in small ponds and water gardens. It’s shiny green, heart-shaped leaves that sit on the water surface with small yellow flowers appearing just above the leaf. It rises in USDA zones 9 through 11 but can be used as an annual in colder climates.

Submersible Plants

Submersible plants grow under water but might float to the top if the water is too shallow. Certain submersibles grow nicely in small, sunny ponds and assist to remove contaminants from the water. Coontail (Ceratophyllum demersum) — also called hornwort — rises in USDA zones 4 through 10 with heights of around 24 inches. This submersible plant thrives in full sunlight with green, feathery foliage. Coontail is an oxygenator and eliminates various allergens in the water, such as nickel and other heavy metals. Canadian pondweed (Elodea canadensis) rises in USDA zones 4 through 10 with heights of under 6 inches tall. This sun-loving aquatic plant eliminates excess nutrients from the water and helps regulate the production of algae.

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