Although they have a tendency to get a little over-looked at times, floating plants can have an important role to play in your pond, providing useful surface cover where the leaves of water lilies and the like do not reach, and making a unique contribution to the overall visual impact.

Floating Pond Plants

Some of these plants – the likes of the Duckweeds, for instance – form carpets of small leaves, while others, such as Water Soldier, do not, but in all cases, planting could hardly be any simpler, just bring them home and drop them in.

Floating Plants for Your PondA number of different varieties are routinely offered, usually from late spring through to early autumn – but not all kinds are as well suited as others to the garden pond or the rigours of the British climate. Some, like the striking Water Lettuce (Pistia stratoites) for example, are difficult to nurture in anything but the best of summers, while others are just too invasive. It’s also important to be aware that many will not tolerate frost, so you may either have to replace them on a yearly basis, or make alternative arrangements for their care when the weather begins to turn colder.

While personal preference and the type of pond you have obviously has a big influence on the eventual choice, here are four floaters that you might like to consider.


Fairy Moss (Azolla caroliniana) Pond Plant
Update (This is now advised against planting!)

Probably the most familiar of all the floating plants Azolla is a miniature fern – hence its alternative common name of “mosquito fern” – with fronds that are little more than half-an-inch across. Left to its own devices, however, it will multiply rapidly and can soon spread across the water’s surface, so you’ll need to exercise a bit of care with it if access to the pond edge is restricted, or it may soon get out of control. Despite its tendency to take over, its delicate, pale green foliage – turning red as summer progresses – makes it an attractive addition to the pond.

The arrival of frost tends to kill much of it off, so over winter a small amount in a jar of pond water until the following April or May.

Ivy-leaved Duckweed (Lemna trisulca) Floating Pond Plant

Duckweeds are well-known floating plants, with their small clover-shaped leaves and roots that dangle down into the water. Different varieties are to be found naturally in almost any pond, ditch or slow moving stream, but since this kind is the least invasive of its family it is widely viewed as the only one that is really suitable for most garden ponds. It is a good food source for many kinds of fish and provides excellent shade for the water.

A number of other duckweeds are commonly offered for sale, particularly Lesser and Greater Duckweeds (L. minor and L. polyrhiza), but they are generally best avoided since they multiply and grow at such a prodigious rate.

Water Hyacinth (Eichornia crassipes) Floating Pond plant

A major invasive plague of the waterways in warmer climes, Water Hyacinths are large, fleshy plants with spectacular blue, yellow or cream flowers forming a foot (30cm) or so above the surface – although they are only produced in good summers.

As you might expect from a plant more at home in the Everglades than Evesham, Eichornia is far from frost-hardy, so you’ll need to take any you want to over-winter indoors before the nights get too cold, or buy some more next year.

Water Soldier (Stratiotes aloides) Floating Pond Plant

Despite its exotic appearance – it looks for all the world like a floating pineapple top – the Water Soldier is a UK native, making it ideal for anyone wanting a spot of low-maintenance impact in their pond. Once their flowering season is over and winter approaches, the plants sink to the bottom of the pond where they will remain dormant until the following summer, when they float back up to the surface to bloom again.

Although under ideal conditions Stratiotes can multiply quickly and so might become a problem, it very rarely seems to cause much trouble, which probably explains why these attractively shaped plants are such firm favourites with pond keepers.

Whether you pick your floating plants for their colour, shape or flowers – or simply to provide a bit of shade in the water – there’s plenty of choice available, so between native species and their exotic kin, with careful selection you’re bound to find something to suit.

Other types of pond plants include:

Oxygenating pond plants, marginal pond plants, pond edge plants, floating pond plants, floating pond water lilies and deep water pond plants.


Do floating plants provide oxygen for fish?

Yes, floating plants are a great source of oxygen for fish in a pond or aquarium. These plants, like all plants, use carbon dioxide and give off oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. Most floating plants are fast-growing, so they produce a significant amount of oxygen, which can help maintain healthy oxygen levels for fish and other aquatic life.
Additionally, floating plants can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the water, which can be harmful to fish in high concentrations. They also absorb excess nutrients from the water, which can prevent algae blooms and maintain a healthy pond or aquarium ecosystem.

Do goldfish like floating plants?

Yes, goldfish enjoy having floating plants in their environment. Floating plants provide the benefits of aquatic plants, but they float on top of the water, making them resistant to the attacks of goldfish. Floating plants can provide shade, shelter, and a sense of security for goldfish, helping to reduce stress and create a more natural and healthy environment.
In addition, some floating plants, such as water hyacinth, can be a source of food for goldfish, adding variety to their diet and helping to maintain good health.

Do floating plants cause algae?

No, floating plants do not cause algae. In fact, incorporating floating plants into your pond or aquarium can actually help to inhibit the growth of algae. Floating plants absorb excess nutrients from the water, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which are the main food sources for algae. By removing these nutrients from the water, floating plants help to prevent the growth of algae and promote a healthy and balanced aquatic ecosystem.
However, it is still important to maintain good water quality and to provide proper lighting and filtration for your pond or aquarium to prevent algae growth.

What plants are suitable for floating pond baskets?

Square floating island baskets are a great option for growing plants in a pond with limited shelf space or no shelves at all. Some examples of upright plants that are suitable for floating pond baskets include Anemopsis californica, Caltha palustris, Mentha cervina or alba, and Ranunculus flammula. These plants are all tolerant of growing in water and can thrive in a floating basket.

Do floating pond plants need fertilizer?

Yes, floating pond plants require nutrients to survive and thrive (prevent from overgrowing), and fertiliser is one way to provide these nutrients. It’s important to use a fertilizer that is specifically designed for aquatic plants, as regular garden fertilizers can be harmful to aquatic life.
When choosing a fertilizer for your floating pond plants, look for one that is high in phosphorus and potassium, as these nutrients are important for healthy plant growth. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to algae growth and other water quality issues.

Do fish eat floating plants?

Yes, some fish, such as goldfish and koi, will eat floating plants. However, floating plants can be a valuable source of food and can provide important nutrients for fish. Duckweed, Azolla, and Salvinia are all examples of floating plants that are good food sources for fish. To prevent excessive consumption and to maintain a healthy balance, it’s important to provide a variety of food sources for your fish, including both commercial fish food and live or natural foods such as floating plants.

Do koi eat floating plants?

Yes, koi are omnivorous and may nibble on floating plants such as water hyacinth. Rooted plants such as lilies and lotuses are less often eaten, but some fish may still eat them

Do floating plants contribute to oxygenation in fish tanks?

Absolutely. Floating plants can be an excellent source of oxygen for fish living in a tank or aquarium. They use carbon dioxide and release oxygen through photosynthesis, just like any other plant. What makes floating plants especially beneficial is their fast growth rate. This means they can produce a significant amount of oxygen, helping to maintain healthy oxygen levels in the water.

Floating plants can also help to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the water, which can be harmful to fish in high concentrations. They absorb excess nutrients from the water, which can prevent the growth of algae and maintain a healthy ecosystem in the tank or aquarium.

Are floating plants good for goldfish?

Yes, floating plants can be a great addition to a goldfish tank or pond. They provide numerous benefits for goldfish, such as shade, shelter, and a sense of security, while floating on top of the water, which makes them resistant to the attacks of goldfish. Certain species of floating plants, such as water hyacinth, can also provide a nutritious addition to a goldfish’s diet, promoting good health and longevity.

What is an example of a floating plant?

Water lilies are a well-known example of a floating-leaf plant. These plants are rooted in the lake or pond bottom, but their leaves and flowers float on the water surface. Other examples of floating plants include duckweed (Lemna), water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes).

What are 5 examples of aquatic plants?

There are many different species of aquatic plants, but here are 5 examples:
1. Water lilies (Nymphaea spp.)
2. Hornwort (Ceratophyllum spp.)
3. Vallisneria (Vallisneria spp.)
4. Java fern (Microsorum pteropus)
5. Amazon sword (Echinodorus amazonicus)

Which plant can float?

Duckweed (Lemna minor) is a small, green, round or oval aquatic plant that floats at the surface of the water with a root that hangs below. It is a common and widespread floating plant that can be found in ponds and other bodies of water throughout the world.

What are 3 freely floating aquatic plants?

Common free-floating aquatic plant species include duckweed (Lemna spp.), watermeal (Wolffia spp.), and water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes). Fast-growing non-native species such as water hyacinth and giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta) are also considered free-floating aquatic plants.

What are two floating plants?

There are many different species of floating plants, but here are two examples:
1. Water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) (But classed as invasive these days)
2. Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)

What are 4 examples of aquatic plants?

There are many different species of aquatic plants, but here are 4 examples:
1. Wild rice (Zizania spp.)
2. Water caltrop (Trapa natans)
3. Indian lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)
4. Watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum)

What is one example of a free-floating plant?

Lemna (commonly known as duckweed) is an example of a free-floating plant. Duckweed floats on the water’s surface, providing cover and food for aquatic life.

Does duckweed oxygenate water?

Yes, duckweed, like other aquatic plants, produces oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis. This oxygen production is vital for the health of aquatic creatures, as it helps to maintain healthy oxygen levels in the water.

Do floating plants oxygenate the water?

Yes, floating plants can help to oxygenate the water in a pond or aquarium. Floating plants consume nutrients such as nitrate and phosphate from the water, while their photosynthesis produces oxygen in return. This helps to maintain a healthy aquatic ecosystem and can benefit the health of the fish or other aquatic animals living in the water

Last Modified: May 13, 2023