The Best Plants for Container Ponds

Water hyacinth pond plantThe following pond plants will thrive in the small space provided by container ponds. There are three different types of container pond plants: potted (bog), floating and aquatic. For a healthy and balanced container pond, you should include one or more of all three types.


Potted pond plants. Some plants should be kept in plant pots inside of the pond because they need to grow in soil. The soil will stay soggy, and the plant pot will contain the roots. Taller potted plants will add vertical interest to your container pond. Potted plants that grow well in container ponds include:

  • Iris
  • Umbrella palm
  • Canna
  • Nymphaea odorata 'Minor' (a dwarf waterlily)

Floating pond plants. Floating plants are important to provide plant interest along the water surface, and they are essential for the health of fish. Water hyacinth is one of the greatest floating plants for fish. Fish like to play in and lay their eggs on the water hyacinth’s roots that dangle in the water.

  • Water hyacinth
  • Water lettuce
  • Parrot’s feather
  • Frogbit

Aquatic pond plants. Some plants grow completely underneath the water surface. These will oxygenate the water and help with water quality. Make sure these plants have access to some sun. Aquatic pond plants for container gardens include:

  • Anacharis
  • Horwort
  • Cabomba

Fish considerations. When planting a container pond with fish, remember that the fish need some open water surface for gas exchange. If plants pack the surface, the water may become deprived of oxygen, causing the fish to suffocate. Fish should always have aquatic plants that grow completely below the surface. These plants oxygenate the water and help absorb ammonia and other toxic elements in the container pond, thus leaving cleaner water for the fish to live in. Surface plants should also always be available so the fish have shade and something to hide under if they get spooked.

If you don't have enough space for a container pond, you may want to maintain a hydroponic growing aquarium with fish in order to grow vegetables and other plants.

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