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The Best Plants for Your Water Garden

Add natural beauty to your water garden with the top-performing varieties.

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    • Lotus

      One of the most elegant bloomers in the water garden, lotus produces large, exotic peony-like flowers throughout the summer. The blooms appear in a number of colors and are a perfect accent to the gorgeous blue-green leaves.

      Name: Nelumbo selections

      Growing Conditions: Full sun, submerged in water

      Size: To 6 feet tall, depending on type

      Zones: Tropical: 10-11, Hardy: 4-9

    • Louisiana Iris

      Louisiana irises are native to areas of North America. Many hybrids have been developed, but one of the most elegant is the native, red-flowered species I. fulva.

      Name: Iris fulva

      Growing Conditions: Full sun, pondside

      Size: 3 feet tall

      Zones: 5-9

    • Pitcher Plant

      This underused plant is carnivorous, meaning it eats insects. Enjoy the tube-shaped leaves as well as the fascinating springtime red, purple, yellow, or green flowers.

      Name: Sarracenia hybrids

      Growing Conditions: Full sun, pondside

      Size: To 18 inches tall

      Zones: 2-11, depending on type

    • Canna

      Cannas are favorite, old-fashioned plants that you may not have considered for the water garden. They add a refreshing, tropical feel to your landscape.

      Name: Canna selections

      Growing Conditions: Full sun, submerged or pondside

      Size: To 6 feet tall, depending on type

      Zones: 8-11

    • Swamp Lily

      Swamp lilies are native to North America and bear lily-like pink or white blooms from spring to fall. Some types are deliciously fragrant and all are great for cutting.

      Name: Crinum americanum

      Growing Conditions: Full sun, pondside

      Size: To 4 feet tall

      Zones: 9-11

    • Sweet Flag

      Grow these plants for their striking foliage. Variegated types offer bright cream and green stripes that stand out among other plants.

      Name: Acorus calamus 'Variegata'

      Growing Conditions: Full sun, pondside

      Size: To 5 feet tall

      Zones: 4-11

    • Rain Lily

      Like a crocus for water gardens, rain lilies produce delicate flowers during the summer months in shades of pink, purple, yellow, and white.

      Name: Zephyranthes selections

      Growing Conditions: Full sun, pondside

      Size: To 1 foot tall

      Zones: 9-11, depending on type

    • Cattail

      A fast spreader, cattail produces familiar spikes of fuzzy brown blooms and beautiful grassy leaves.

      Name: Typha latifolia

      Growing Conditions: Full sun, submerged or pondside

      Size: To 6 feet tall

      Zones: 2-11

    • Japanese Primrose

      The perfect little plant for the water garden's edge, Japanese primroses are delightful perennials that thrive in acidic soils. It self-sows, resulting in a delightful colony of mixed colors in just a few seasons.

      Name: Primula japonica

      Growing Conditions: Part to full shade, pondside

      Size: To 18 inches tall

      Zones: 4-8

    • 10 of 17

      Perennial Hibiscus

      You can't beat the big, bold flowers of hibiscus for a dramatic show. Native to wet areas across North America, this perennial is as tough and easy-to-grow as it is gorgeous.

      Name: Hibiscus moscheutos

      Growing Conditions: Full sun, pondside

      Size: To 8 feet tall

      Zones: 5-10

    • 11 of 17

      Cardinal Flower

      Cardinal flower is an excellent late-summer-blooming perennial for the edge of the water garden. The bright red flowers may attract hummingbirds.

      Name: Lobelia cardinalis

      Growing Conditions: Part to full shade, pondside

      Size: 3 feet tall

      Zones: 3-9

    • 12 of 17

      Japanese Iris

      Japanese iris is another favorite water-garden iris that bears large, often dinner-plate size flowers in a charming gallery of brushstroke color combinations.

      Name: Iris japonica

      Growing Conditions: Full sun, pondside

      Size: 3 feet tall

      Zones: 3-8

    • 13 of 17

      Taro

      Create a tropical look with taro (also sometimes called elephant's ears). For extra drama, select one of the beautiful purple-leaf varieties.

      Name: Colocasia selections

      Growing Conditions: Part to full shade, pondside

      Size: To 5 feet tall

      Zones: 9-11

    • 14 of 17

      Papyrus

      While ancient Egyptians used this plant to make paper, it's also a great water-garden plant. The tall stems create a decidedly tropical look.

      Name: Cyperus papyrus

      Growing Conditions: Full sun, pondside or submerged

      Size: To 6 feet tall

      Zones: 9-11

    • 15 of 17

      Water Lily

      A water garden isn't complete without an array of beautiful water lilies. There are tropical and hardy types, as well as varieties that bloom during the day and at night.

      Name: Nymphaea selections

      Growing Conditions: Full sun, submerged in water

      Size: To 6 feet wide, depending on type

      Zones: Tropical: 10-11, Hardy: 4-9

    • 16 of 17

      Video: Types of Water Garden Plants

      Watch this video to learn about the different categories of water garden plants.

    • 17 of 17
      Next Slideshow Outdoor Fountain Ideas

      Outdoor Fountain Ideas

      Outdoor fountains are a great addition to any landscape. Find ideas here for what style, size, and design of fountain would work best in your landscape.
      Begin Slideshow »

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