Plants for a Wildlife Pond

Backyard water gardens and ponds are popular landscape additions. Not only do they add an aesthetically pleasing element, but they can attract a variety of wildlife.

The most effective wildlife ponds blend into an informal yard or garden that has trees and shrubs designed to attract wildlife. Your pond can range from a simple, shallow pool that attracts primarily birds to a larger, deeper pond with plants and waterfalls, or anything in between.

Plants are a key part of a wildlife pond. They can help keep the pond ecologically balanced by shading the water, removing excess nutrients, and providing food for your fish.

There are four basic groups of plants that you can add to your pond and the surrounding edges:

Deep water – These plants float on the water’s surface but their roots are in the soil below. You can also grow these plants in pots and submerge the pots in the pond. This will allow for easy relocation or removal. Water lilies are a popular choice. There are other more tropical options, but they require a great deal of sunlight and warmth each day.

Free floating – The leaves of these plants float on the surface, but the roots are not anchored in soil. Frogs bit and duckweed are common free floating plants. These plants also help keep the algae level down. Many of these plants may need to be brought inside during the winter in northern climates, so check the plant’s specifications.

Submergents – These plants grow almost entirely underwater. They release oxygen and filter out excess nutrients. Common species are Illinois pondweed, Eastern purple bladderwort and hornwort. They can multiply quickly so you will need to thin them out regularly.

Marginal – Also known as bog plants, the roots are only partially submerged in the water. Common types are cattails and assorted grasses. These plants are often around the edge of the pond.

Once your pond is complete with plants, sit back and watch all the wildlife enjoy their new habitat!