Restoring Balance and Beauty to your Pond with Native Aquatic Plants

This article by Sandy Phelps was published in in the Hunterdon Master Gardener Newsletter ‘Roots & Shoots”. Sandy is a noted Landscape Designer from Hunterdon

Maintaining dense vegetation around a pond has a beneficial impact on water quality. Establishing aquatic plants along the water’s edge prevents erosion and controls the geese population. Thickly planted pond edges can reduce rain water runoff containing excessive nutrients that cause pond algae. Native plants will also attract insects like dragonflies that feed on mosquito larvae and help to control the mosquito population.

Pickerel Weed, Pontederia cordata, is an aquatic plant that grows 3 to 4 feet high but only 1 to 2 feet are seen above the water. Its creeping rhizomes help to stabilize pond edges while not obstructing the view. It has heart-shaped green foliage and violet-blue flower spikes that bloom all summer and into autumn. Its flowers attract and butterflies as well as dragonflies and damselflies that eat mosquito larvae. The dense foliage provides good cover for birds, fish and amphibians.\

Blue Flag Iris, Iris versicolor, is a 2 to 3-foot-high clumping plant with violet-blue flowers and yellow sepals atop sturdy stalks. It blooms from May through August. It has limited nutritional value and its tall, sword-like foliage is rarely eaten by wildlife and quickly forms a dense pond edging.

Duck Potato or Arrowhead, Sagittaria latifolia, has very strong roots that can tolerate wide fluctuations in water levels. It aids in filtering water with high levels of phosphates, thus, improving water quality. Growing between 1 to 4 feet high, this aquatic perennial has broad arrow-shaped foliage and small white flowers. Its name, Duck Potato, is derived from its underground tubers that are eaten by many species of ducks.