12+ Types of Aquatic Flowers to Grow in Water

1. Water Lily (Nymphaea)

Water lilies are some of the first aquatic flowers that people think of and for good reason. These well-loved flowers come in a wide range of varieties, with some considered hardy and some considered tropical. Hardy varieties can survive freezing temperatures while tropical varieties must be kept as annuals or in zones where temperatures do not freeze.

Water lilies can produce white, purple, pink, blue, yellow, orange, red, and peach blooms. depending on their variety. These plants also produce their iconic lily pad foliage. Not only do they beautify the area, but they clean the water and provide shelter for aquatic animals and fish.

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: Hardy (3-11), Tropical (9-11)
  • Flower Color Varieties: Red, pink, purple, peach, blue, white, yellow, orange
  • Light: Full to partial
  • Soil Needs: Submerged, loamy, neutral to alkaline soil
  • Mature Size: 2-12 inches above water, 2-8 feet wide
  • Deer Resistant: No

 

2. Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)

Lotus flowers are another popular, well-known aquatic flower. These flowers can be mistaken for water lilies because of their lily pad-like foliage and similar flower structure. Lotus flowers are pink or white, and rise tall above the water, unlike water lilies that often float on the surface. Lotus flowers can reach up to a foot wide, and their circular foliage can be up to 2 feet wide.

Lotus flowers can be grown in both shallow water and water up to 8 feet deep. They are fast spreaders, so you may wish to keep them in large containers rather than plant them directly into the pond. Their spreading rhizomes can quickly take over a pond.

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-9
  • Flower Color Varieties: Pink, white
  • Light: Full
  • Soil Needs: Submerged, loamy, neutral soil
  • Mature Size: 3-5 feet above water, 3-5 feet wide
  • Deer Resistant: No

 

3. Water Poppy (Hydrocleys nymphoides)

Water poppies produce shiny, circular to heart-shaped foliage and small, cheery yellow flowers. The individual foliage of this plant reaches 2 to 4 inches in diameter while the petite flowers are up to 2 inches in size. These plants can either float on the surface of the water or rise above slightly. Although these dainty flowers only last one day, water poppies continue to bloom throughout the summer. Their small size makes them great for small ponds or pond edges. They prefer shallow water around 6 inches deep.

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9-11
  • Flower Color Varieties: Yellow
  • Light: Full
  • Soil Needs: Shallowly submerged, loamy, acidic to neutral  
  • Mature Size: 6-12 inches above water, 5 feet wide
  • Deer Resistant: No

4. Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)

 

Water hyacinths are free-floating aquatic flowers that produce purple and yellow flower stalks that reach up to 12 inches tall. Their foliage is thick and round with long, bulbous stalks. Because they are free-floating, they do not need any soil to survive and can also be used for indoor water gardens.

It is important to note that these flowers are very fast growers and spreaders. They can quickly cover the entire surface of a pond, which may choke out sunlight and kill other aquatic plants. Therefore, it is important to keep water hyacinth under control. Growing these plants in floating baskets is one strategy to keep them contained.

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 8-11
  • Flower Color Varieties: Purple and yellow
  • Light: Full
  • Soil Needs: None
  • Mature Size: 12 inches above water, 1-2 feet wide
  • Deer Resistant: Yes

 

5. Water Iris (Iris laevigata)

Irises may not be the first flower you think of when talking about aquatic flowers, but the water iris is a splendid addition to any pond edge. This type of irissports the iconic three-petaled flower these plants are known for, along with long, grass-like foliage. They are best grown in shallow water up to 8 inches deep.

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5-9
  • Flower Color Varieties: Purple, blue
  • Light: Full, partial
  • Soil Needs: Submerged, loamy, acidic soil
  • Mature Size: 2-3 feet above water, 1-2 feet wide
  • Deer Resistant: Yes

 

6. Water Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis scorpioides)

 

Another plant known for its land-dwelling varieties, water forget-me-nots are an ideal option for ponds and water gardens. These dainty blue and yellow flowers can be grown in shallow water up to 3 inches deep, and thrive on pond edges. Simply plant them in shallow water or next to the water’s edge in wet soil. These plants offer a very low-maintenance landscaping option.

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5-9
  • Flower Color Varieties: Blue and yellow
  • Light: Full, partial
  • Soil Needs: Wet to submerged, loamy, slightly acidic to slightly alkaline
  • Mature Size: 6-12 inches tall, wide
  • Deer Resistant: Yes

 

7. Water Hawthorn (Aponogeton distachyos)

 

Water hawthorn creates unique, V-shaped, multi-petaled flowers with a pleasant vanilla scent. These white flowers appear in the spring and fall to early winter, as this plant often ceases to bloom during the hot summers. The flowers and long, oval leaves float on the surface of the water, which helps to create shelter for any pond fish or aquatic animals.

Water hawthorn prefers cool water temperatures and still, calm water conditions. It can grow in water up to two feet deep. It also is a prolific plant and often self-seeds.

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 6-10
  • Flower Color Varieties: White
  • Light: Full, partial
  • Soil Needs: Submerged, loamy, acidic to alkaline pH levels
  • Mature Size: 4 inches above water, 2-3 feet wide
  • Deer Resistant: No

 

8. Broadleaf Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia)

 

Also known as a duck-potato plant, the broadleaf arrowhead produces tubers that are a food source for animals like ducks and muskrats. These plants produce upright, arrowhead-shaped leaves, which is where the name originates from.

Broadleaf arrowhead plants produce stalks of multiple, small, white flowers with yellow centers. Reaching up to 3 feet above the water, these plants are lovely for adding a vertical element to a waterfall pond or water garden.

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 6-9
  • Flower Color Varieties: White and yellow
  • Light: Full, partial
  • Soil Needs: Soggy or submerged, loamy, mildly acidic to mildly alkaline
  • Mature Size: 2-3 feet above water, 3-4 feet wide
  • Deer Resistant: No

 

9. Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)

 

Another tall aquatic flower, pickerelweed can reach up to 3 feet tall. These plants sport tall spikes of tiny white, blue, pink, or purple flowers and long, heart-shaped leaves. They are often found naturally where pickerel fish live, which is what earned this plant its name.

Pickerelweed prefers shallow, calm waters, and is often found growing on the shallow edges of ponds. These plants act as a food source for birds and can also attract pollinators.

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-10
  • Flower Color Varieties: White, blue, purple, pink
  • Light: Full, partial
  • Soil Needs: Soggy or submerged, muddy, loamy, slightly acidic to slightly alkaline
  • Mature Size: 3 feet above water, 2 feet wide
  • Deer Resistant: No

 

10. Mosaic Flower (Lugwigia sedoides)

Mosaic flowers add a unique flair to any pond with their small, diamond-shaped leaves that float on the surface, giving the water a mosaic pattern. When grown in full sun, the leaves turn red, adding to this plant’s unique, artistic look. Small, yellow, four-petaled flowers appear in the summer, adding a cheery element to any pond.

These dainty flowers cannot tolerate alkaline water conditions, so be sure the water stays at or below neutral. Mosaic flowers spread over the surface of the water, so you will need to occasionally thin the plants out to keep the pond open.

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9-11
  • Flower Color Varieties: Yellow
  • Light: Full, partial
  • Soil Needs: Submerged, heavy loam, slightly acidic to slightly alkaline
  • Mature Size: 2-3 inches above water, 1-2 feet wide
  • Deer Resistant: No

 

11. Calla Lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica)

 

Because these plants love wet soil, calla liliesmake great pond plants. They can be grown on the edges of ponds in shallow water. Their wavy foliage and spathe and spadix flowers add movement and interest to any water garden.

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 8-11
  • Flower Color Varieties: White
  • Light: Full, partial
  • Soil Needs: Soggy to submerged, loamy, acidic 
  • Mature Size: 2-3 feet above water, 1-2 feet wide
  • Deer Resistant: Yes

 

12. Swamp Lily (Crinum pedunculatum)

 

Swamp lilies, with their long, narrow petals and long stamens, give an eclectic, wild feel to ponds or water gardens. Aside from their looks, swamp lilies also give off a sweet aroma, making them lovely both to look at and to smell. Swamp lilies can reach over 6 feet tall, making them an eye-catching addition to a pond or water garden. These unique flowers can be grown in wet soil or in shallow water.

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 7-11
  • Flower Color Varieties: White
  • Light: Full, partial
  • Soil Needs: Wet or submerged, loamy, acidic to alkaline
  • Mature Size: 6-8 feet tall, wide
  • Deer Resistant: Yes

 

13. Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor)

 

Sporting the iconic three-petaled iris blooms, these bright blue flowers add an elegant touch to pond edges. Not only do these flowers look lovely, but planting irises in pond edges can help strengthen the pond borders. Blue flag irises bloom in the early spring to early summer, giving your pond or water garden incredible color early in the year.

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 2-7
  • Flower Color Varieties: Blue, purple
  • Light: Full, partial
  • Soil Needs: Wet to submerged, loamy, acidic
  • Mature Size: 2-3 feet tall, wide
  • Deer Resistant: Yes

 

14. Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

 

Cardinal flower is known for its tall, bright red, trumpet-shaped flowers and its unique petal pattern. These eye-catching flowers are another vibrant plant that can be grown in shallow standing water, making them a lovely border plant for ponds. Their bright red color also attracts hummingbirds.

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-9
  • Flower Color Varieties: Red
  • Light: Full, partial
  • Soil Needs: Wet to submerged, loamy, clay, slightly acidic to slightly alkaline
  • Mature Size: 3-4 feet above water, 1-2 feet wide
  • Deer Resistant: Yes

 

15. Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

Another border plant, marsh marigold is a buttercup-like, yellow flower that blooms in the early spring. While the name suggests that they’re part of the Asteraceae family like other marigolds, the reality is that these plants are a member of the Ranunculaceae family. These plants have shiny, heart-shaped or kidney-shaped leaves that add to their cheery appearance.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-7
    • Flower Color Varieties: Yellow
    • Light: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Wet to submerged, loamy, acidic
    • Mature Size: 1-2 feet tall, wide
    • Deer Resistant: Yes

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