To create a natural-looking pond that blends with your garden and attracts a host of wildlife, you need the right aquatic plants, and if they’re indigenous, so much the better. Here is your Garden Guru pick of the 10 best:
- Crinum bulbispermum or Orange River Lily – This handsome river lily puts on a magnificent show from October to December. Use it as a marginal plant and leave it undisturbed for several years in moisture-retaining soil. It withstands dry periods without adverse effect and prefers to be kept dry when dormant in winter; keep it moist in summer.
- Alococasia ‘Midnight Magic’ or Black elephants Ear – Use this near-black variety of the well-known taro or elephant’s ears as an accent plant at the edge of your water feature. Plant it in a container dropped into shallow water or in moist soil in a spot that gets morning sun.
- Nymphoides thungergiana or Floating Hearts – Known locally as the geelwateruintjie, it has 5–10cm wide heart-shaped leaves perfect for small ponds and water features. Dainty star-shaped flowers, the size of a 50c coin, appear from early summer to autumn. Anchor it in containers on the floor of the pond, 30–40cm deep. Plant up the new plantlets that arise from the base of older leaves.
- Aponogeton distachys or Waterblometjie or Cape Pond Weed – Cape pond weed is a must for water gardens as it flowers in winter when water lilies are dormant. Its attractive oval leaves float on the water’s surface below the flowers. These are fragrant and edible and are the main ingredient in an old Cape Malay speciality, waterblommetjie bredie. Plant the bulbs in containers in still water, 20–30cm deep. They die back in summer.
- Berula erecta or Water Parsnip – The fern-like leaves of this clump-forming perennial are its main attraction. Fast growing and spreading, its white, parsley-like flowers appear in summer. It loves wet conditions and will grow in boggy soil as well as submerged in water, often in dappled shade.
- Nymphaea capensis or Blue Water Lily- There’s something very alluring about water lilies especially the fragrant ‘Cape Blue’ with its long elegant stems and round lily pads. Grow either in the soil at the bottom of a pond or in wide containers covered with gravel chips or pebbles.
- Cyperys paparus or Nile Papirus – This rhizomatous perennial makes an outstanding water foliage plant, although it will grow anywhere in the garden. Its stems are crowned with a mop-like head of thread-like flower spikes.
- Thypha latifolia or Bullrush – Typha species grow in permanent fresh or brackish water. It grows almost always under natural conditions in This plant provides cover and nesting areas for birds and animals. Bullrushes have strap-like foliage with brown cylindrical flower spikes.
- Gomphostigma virgatum or River Star – A greyish plant with long, slender, weeping branches. The ends of the branches carry tiny, scented, star-like white flowers. Works well for water gardens or in moist, sunny areas.
- Zanthedeschia aethiopica or Arum Lily – A moisture-loving plant with attractive white spathes, this semi-evergreen has large, glossy, rather arrow-shaped, broad leaves. ‘Green Goddess’ (Green arum) is a popular addition to any garden and provides excellent cut flowers. ‘Speck Leaf’ has lovely white spotted green leaves and white flowers in summer.
Plants in your pond balance your pond’s ecosystem. Aquatic plants offer food, shelter and environment for fish in ponds.