Ideal Plants for Deep Water

Say “deep water plants” and most people will instantly think of water lilies, but while they may well be the undisputed stars, they certainly aren’t the only candidates, nor are they always the best choice for every pond.

Although they are often over-looked in favour of their flashier relatives, there’s a good selection of other options to consider and many of them are far better suited to the average garden – especially if shade is a bit of a problem. Here are a few of the best.

Brandy Bottle (Nuphar lutea) – Deep Water Pond Plant

This plant’s common name is said to come from the slight smell of liqueur that its 2 inch (5cm) yellow flowers give off – although other people swear that it’s to do with the shape of the seed pods – which perhaps makes the alternative “Common Pond Lily” a more helpful label. Native to the UK, with its fleshy, oval leaves and cup-shaped blooms it offers all of the look of a water lily, but has one great advantage over its larger flowered cousins – it will tolerate partial shade.

Given the right conditions, however, it can prove rather too vigorous, reaching a spread of two-metres or more in a surprisingly short time, which tends to make it only really suitable for fairly sizeable ponds. For smaller ones, the related N. minima is a good bet, while other suitable varieties that are sometimes seen for sale include N. japonica, N. pumila and the American form,N. advenum, which has larger flowers.

Pond lilies thrive in depths from around one to five feet (30 – 150 cm) of water.

Golden Club (Orontium aquaticum) – Deep Water Pond Plant

The showy Golden Club – one of the Arum lily family – is often grown as a marginal, but it also makes a very striking addition to the deep water planting regime for depths of up to 20 inches (50cm) or so. It likes a lot of soil around its deep roots, so a lily basket is usually the best way to accommodate this plant.

With velvety blue/green foliage and yellow-tipped white flowering spikes thrown a foot (30cm) or more above the surface, Orontium lends a strong architectural feel to any pond, with the bonus of a relatively small spread (20 inches / 50cm), which makes it easy to manage.

Water Fringe or Floating Heart (Nymphoides peltata ) – Deep Water Pond Plant

Although this small native pond plant is actually part of the bogbean family, it looks for all the world like a miniature water lily, providing a profusion of little star-shaped yellow flowers throughout the summer.

It is another good alternative to a true water lily for the smaller garden, although with a spread of slightly less than a metre it can become a nuisance where space is particularly limited unless it is kept in check. Fortunately it can be divided easily in late spring or early summer and its attractive appearance means you shouldn’t have too many problems finding homes for your surplus with other local pond keepers.

Like Nuphar, Water Fringe will also tolerate partial shade, although it favours shallower water, with a maximum planting depth of around 24 inches (60cm).

Water Hawthorn (Aponogeton distachyos) – Deep Water Pond Plant

Between its long flowering season – from spring well into late autumn – non-invasive habits and sweet, slightly vanilla scented blooms, it is not difficult to see why Aponogeton has become firmly established as one of the essential deep water plants for any pond. New plantings can sometimes be a little difficult to get started, but tend to do very well once they do take and the vigorous oval leaves and prolific white flowers more than repay any necessary TLC in the early stages. Water Hawthorn thrives in water of up to 20 inches (50cm) – and often more – but it’s a good idea to acclimatise plants gently, starting them off in a basket at less than half that depth and gradually lowering them to their final position.

For containers, the related A. krauseanus is a smaller alternative worth considering, which can be planted in as little as 4 inches (10cm) of water.

Although Aponogeton has become naturalised in some of the warmer regions of Britain, “home” is South Africa, so while plants may be safe in deep water through most winters, if the conditions are severe it’s probably advisable to lift them and store them inside.

There’s no denying the unparalleled beauty of water lilies, but equally even their most ardent fan would have to admit, they are uncompromising in their demands and successfully growing them can be a real challenge. For the typical pond, it can often be worth thinking about adding one or two other kinds of deep water plants; they have their own unique appeal and after all, nobody said you can’t have lilies too!

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.

What are deep water aquatic plants?

Deep water aquatic plants are those that grow on the bottom of a pond or on the deeper shelves, so they are submerged several inches under water. They have foliage and flowers that either float on the surface like those of a waterlily or emerge from the water. Some examples of deep water aquatic plants are waterlilies, lotus, and water hawthorn.

What are the three types of aquatic plants in a pond?

The three types of aquatic plants in a pond are submerged, emergent, and free-floating plants. Submerged plants grow rooted in the pond bottom and grow up through the water column, with only their flowers emerging above the water surface. Emergent plants, such as cattails and arrowheads, grow along the edges of the pond or in shallow water, with their stems and foliage emerging above the water surface. Free-floating plants, such as duckweed, water hyacinth float on the water surface without being anchored to the pond bottom.

Can water lilies grow in deep water?

Water lilies prefer shallow water, and they will not grow in water deeper than 5 feet. However, there are a few cultivars of water lilies that can grow in water that is up to 15 feet deep, but they require a specific growing environment and care.

What plants can go at the bottom of a pond?

Several plants can grow at the bottom of a pond, such as water lilies, hornwort, and broad-leaved pondweed. Cattail and arrowhead are other examples of plants that can grow along the pond’s edge or in shallow water.

What do you put at the bottom of a pond to keep the water in?

Rocks, gravel, and sand are commonly used at the bottom of a pond to help anchor the plants and to provide a natural-looking environment. They also create a biological environment for beneficial bacteria to break down organic sludge, and aquatic plants can attach their roots to the media.

Do water lilies oxygenate ponds?

Water lilies do not oxygenate ponds as much as submerged plants, which release oxygen directly into the water. However, water lilies release oxygen through their roots into the pond’s soil, which helps in maintaining the overall health of the pond ecosystem. They also provide wildlife with shelter and help in keeping the water clear of algae.

How can plants be put in a deep pond?

For larger ponds, plants can be directly planted into the silt at the bottom of the pond. A deep layer of stones should be added to the container to provide extra stability and anchor the plant in place, which is particularly useful when planting tall pond plants or when planting into flowing water.

What is the best depth for pond plants?

The best depth for most upright emergent pond plants, such as Alisma plantago-aquatica, Butomus umbellatus, Iris versicolor, and Pontederia cordata, is at 15-22cm (6-9 inches), where the top of the planted basket is within a maximum of 5 inches of the top of the water, or for dwarf waterlilies.

How can pond water be kept clear with plants?

To keep pond water clear, it’s important to understand that a little bit of algae or discoloration is normal. Beneficial bacteria can be used to starve single-cell algae that turns water green. A wide variety of aquatic plants can be added to starve string algae, and a larger biofilter can also be added to the pond. It’s also essential not to overfeed or overcrowd fish.

Can pond plants be fully submerged?

There’s a wide range of aquatic plants that will thrive in a pond, be they fully submerged, floating on the surface, or growing on the pond edge as a “marginal.”

What is the maximum depth for planting pond plants?

For most upright emergent pond plants, such as Alisma plantago-aquatica, Butomus umbellatus, Iris versicolor, and Pontederia cordata, the maximum depth for planting should be 15-22cm (6-9 inches), where the top of the planted basket is within a maximum of 5 inches of the top of the water or for dwarf waterlilies.

What are some fully submerged pond plants?

There’s a variety of fully submerged pond plants, including American pondweed, Asian marshweed, baby pondweed, brittle naiad, marine naiad, brittle waternymph, Cabomba, fanwort, coontail, cutleaf watermilfoil, East Indian hygrophila, Egeria, elodea, fineleaf pondweed, floating pondweed, horned pondweed, hydrilla, Indian swampweed, and large-leaf pondweed.

Last Modified: March 31, 2023