Plants & Trees for Ponds

Adding plants and trees in and around a pond may soften its edges, add a natural look to the physique of water and supply habitat for wildlife and beneficial insects. It is important to ensure the plants you choose for the pond can tolerate excessive moisture and soggy soils. Choosing the wrong plants could bring about fungal diseases, root rot and death into the plant.

Shoreline Flowers

Also called marginal plants, shoreline flowers grow on the edge of lakes, ponds and other bodies of water. These plants bear shallow water and boggy, soggy soils. Japanese water iris (Iris ensata) is a shoreline plant growing in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9. It can grow in part shade or full sun and thrives in land in which its toes remain constantly moist. The Japanese water iris has large blooms that measure 6 to 12 inches across and look on the top of tall flower stalks rising above the plant. Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) is just another shoreline plant creating buttercup-like yellow blossoms in the spring. It grows in USDA zones 2 through 9 to heights of 6 to 12 inches.

Floating Pond Plants

Floating pond plants create leaf which floats across the water’s surface, providing benefits such as shading the water, maintaining temperatures lower for seafood from the warm summer months. Yellow pondlily (Nuphar polysepalum) grows heart-shape leaf which floats on the water and yellowish blossoms that protrude slightly above the water in USDA zones 4 through 10 in sunlight. Water poppy (Hydrocleys nymphoides) is a perennial growth in USDA zones 9 through 11, but can grow as an annual elsewhere. Water poppy grows in full sunlight, creating thick round floating leaves and yellow blooms which appear for only one day.


Shrubs tolerating soggy soils can grow as a single specimen or as a hedge or screen, planted in a mass group. Smooth hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens) are a deciduous tree growing in USDA zones 3 through 9 in partial shade, usually in moist well-drained soil, but they can tolerate soggy locations such as near lakes and ponds. Smooth hydrangeas reach 3 to 5 feet tall with large clusters of white panicles and are immune to deer and rabbits. Rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) grows well at the edge of ponds in USDA zones 5 through 9. This 10-foot-tall shrub produces large blossoms containing hummingbird-attracting nectar. Rose-of-Sharon is an easy-care plant which grows in sunny places and tolerates seacoast exposures.

Flowering Trees

A few flowering pear (Pyrus calleryana) cultivars tolerate soggy locations and can grow at the edge of ponds. “Whitehouse” and “Bradford” are two such cultivars growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 8. These stunning ornamental trees grow best in full sunlight and create fragrant white blooms in the spring. “Whitehouse” grows in a columnar shape around 40 feet tall, while “Bradford” has a pyramidal form and grows between 20 and 35 feet tall. Common buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) grows in USDA zones 5 through 10, reaching heights of about 20 feet. It can grow in all light conditions except dense shade and creates creamy white butterfly-attracting blooms with a nice fragrance.

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