Short-haired bumblebee Bombus subterraneus, reintroduction, habitat includes Yellow iris Iris pseudacorus, Dungeness

Wildlife pond plants for the UK

Plants are an essential part of a healthy diverse pond and just like with your garden, there are lots of different things you can introduce to help make it welcome to wildlife.

Stocking a pond

A pond will often stock itself if you leave things to nature, and you'll be surprised how quickly insects, frogs and plants can take up home there. 

However, introducing plants yourself, if done cleverly, can be hugely beneficial to your pond too.

There are a few things you should consider before jumping into it.

  • Use native plants, whether from other garden ponds or from garden centres. Never take plants from the wild!
  • A variety of different types is best! Have a mixture of submerged, floating and emergent plants. They'll each bring different qualities and benefits to your pond on it's inhabitants!
  • Avoid adding water from an existing pond, as this can risk introducing disease and unwelcome plants and animals.
  • Avoid non-native potentially invasive plants. They can spread quickly and be very disruptive and harmful to your pond and the wider countryside.

Here's a breakdown of some of the plants you should embrace and others that you should avoid. 

Meadow Sweet

Recommended floating native plants

Floating plants sit on the waters surface, without needing to be anchored or attached to any soil below.

If you aim to cover around 50 per cent of your pond, they can do a great job at keeping the water cool and algae growth down.

  • White water lily (Nymphaea alba)
  • Ivy-leaved duckweed (Lemna trisulca)
  • Frogbit (Hydrocharis morsus ranae)
  • Water soldier (Stratiotes aloides
Strumpshaw Fen RSPB reserve, water soldier in water ditch.

Recommended submerged native plants

These are plants that are fully submerged into the water. They're great oxygenators and provide valuable cover for underwater creatures.

  • Spiked water-milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum)
  • Whorled water-milfoil (M. verticillatum)
  • Curled pondweed (Potamogeton crispus)
  • Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum)
  • Water starwort (Allitriche stagnalis)
  • Common spike-rush (Eleocharis palustris)
  • Willow moss (Fontinalis antipyretica)
  • Marestail (Hippuris vulgaris)
  • Water violet (Hottonia palustris)
  • Water crowfoot (Ranunculus aquatilis
New wet area of phase 4, carrot field with water violets, Lakenheath Fen

Recommended emergent native plants

These plants tend to grow around the edge of a pond. They root themselves to the soil and mud underwater and emerge out of the waters surface.  

  • Yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus)
  • Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)
  • Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
  • Rushes (Juncus spp)
  • Sedges (Carex spp)
  • Greater spearwort (Ranunculus lingua)
  • Water mint (Mentha aquatica)
  • Water forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides)
Purple loosestrife Lythrum, close up

Invasive plants to avoid

Some non-native plants are invasive and can choke up waterways and out-compete with our native species.

Their reach can stretch beyond you garden pond if birds and otherwildlife transfer seeds out into the countryside, so it's best to avoid any of the following. 

  • Australian swamp stonecrop/New Zealand pigmyweed (Crassula helmsii)
  • Parrots feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)
  • Floating pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides)
  • Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica)
  • Waterferns (Azolla filiculoides) & (A. caroliniana
  • Indian/Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera)
  • Water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)
  • Giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta)
  • Water hyacinth (Eichornia crassipes)
  • Water chestnut (Trapa natans)
  • Canadian waterweed (Elodea canadensis)
  • Nuttalls waterweed (E. nuttallii)
  • Curly waterweed (Lagarosiphon major)
Close up of flower, Himalayan Balsam Impatiens glandulifera, with people walking in the background.