Choosing the 17 Most Popular Aquatic Plants for Ponds in Lancaster, PA

Backyard ponds are a natural and beautiful addition to your yard, and they can provide great enjoyment for your family. They can also attract local birds, butterflies, frogs, and, if you want, you can stock the pond with fish. When it comes to enhancing your pond with plants, here’s everything you need to know about choosing the 17 most popular aquatic plants for ponds in Lancaster, PA.

For the most natural look, use a mix of floating, emergent, and submergent species. Floating plants are are not anchored in dirt; emergent plants have their roots in the water, but their shoots above water; and submergent plants live entirely underwater.

Of the three, submergent plants do the best job in oxygenating the water and keeping the water clear. Floating plants also help limit algae growth by providing shade, without which algae can’t grow. Emergent plants are often used on the perimeter of a pond, for a soft and natural look. 

Before selecting plants, consider these factors: how deep the water is (some plants need a minimum of 2-3’ depth in order to overwinter outdoors); whether you will drain the pond in winter (if so, consider plants that can overwinter in the basement); how much sunlight your pond receives; the size of the pond; and whether you will have fish. Aquatic plants should cover more than half of the water surface, and they should be suited to the pond’s unique conditions. Talk to our experts for advice about how to get started building your backyard pond!

Choosing the 17 Most Popular Aquatic Plants for Ponds in Lancaster, PA.jpeg

Popular aquatic plants for ponds in Lancaster, PA:

1. Arrowhead: this 1-½’ tall Pennsylvania native that features distinctive long, pointed leaves and white flowers.

2. Bladderwort: this submerged plant provides food and cover for fish. Interestingly, it’s carnivorous, dining on insect larvae and zooplankton.

Related: How a Custom Aquascape Water Feature can Improve Any Lancaster, PA, Outdoor Living Space

3. Blue Iris: the aquatic iris is an early spring bloomer. The Blue Flag iris loves water, and boasts beautiful blue or purple flowers.

4. Bulrush: this tall (up to 10’) reedlike plant provides stunning visual interest to a backyard pond.

5. Cattail: a PA native, these 6’ tall reeds feature dark brown, fuzzy cigar-like flowers, and parts of this plant are edible!

6. Cardinal Flower: birds love this 3’ tall, vibrantly red-flowering plant.

7. Coontail: this PA native submergent plant inhibits the growth of blue-green algae.

Related: What Sludge and Muck Do to Ponds and How to Get Rid of It in York, PA

8. Creeping Jenny: this fast-growing perennial ground cover beautifully softens the appearance of any boulders around the pond.

9. Elodea: this submergent provides cover for fish, and helps to oxygenate a pond.

10. Horsetail Reed: the segmented reeds provide visual interest to a pond. This 24” high plant tends to spread rapidly, though, so be sure to contain it to avoid having it take over.

11. Pennywort: similar in shape to water lilies but smaller, pennywort provides a habitat for fish and other small aquatic creatures.

12. Pickerelweed: with shiny, heart-shaped foliage, Pickerelweed boasts long-lasting purple flowers and grows to over 2’ tall.

13. Pondweed: another native, this submergent plant features oval to heart-shaped leaves and its fruit, which sticks up out of the water, is a favorite food for waterfowl.

14. Sweet Flag: this beautiful semi-evergreen plant features light green/yellow striped foliage to brighten the edges of your pond.

15. Water Primrose: a beautiful ground cover, this fast-growing plant is perfect for pond edges, and it spreads horizontally with runners.

16. White Waterlily: these popular perennial aquatic plants are considered natives, so they are perfectly suited to the PA climate. They are floating plants with broad leaves that provide shade for the pond.

17. Wild Celery: a highly desired aquatic plant if you want to attract wildlife and birds, and if you want to stock fish.