Aquatic plants provide a pleasant aesthetic touch to your pond and act as oxygenators which helps your fish live healthier. They will also make the water in the garden clear and algae-free.
Oxygenating plants are very beneficial for your pond because they maintain the natural equilibrium throughout the water which keeps it healthy.
Providing the right amount of light, nutrients, and appropriate pond temperature will help give you a sufficient supply of carbon dioxide for your aquatic pets and help maintain an algal-free water pond.
Choosing the right type of aquatic plants can be daunting, particularly for first-time pond owners. But don’t worry we got you covered.
Below, we will cover the best oxygenating pond plants that will naturally improve your water garden environment. Let’s get to it!
13 Best Oxygenating Pond Plants to Keep Your Water Garden Healthy
1) Water Lettuce (Pistia Stratiotes)
Water Lettuce is famous for its decorative, lettuce-like growth pattern and easy care.
It can grow pretty quickly in any environment. And the plant comes with long roots that provide refuge for the aquatic inhabitants; moreover, it filters radicals from the water.
Water lettuce loves warm water temperature, and if you’re in USDA zones 10 and up, you can enjoy growing the plant in your pond year-round.
But any lower than that, you may want to take a few rosettes inside when wintertime begins to roll. Doing so will save the plant from the danger of cold and restart them the next year.
2) Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)
Water hyacinth can be another gorgeous floating addition to your pond. It brings colors to your water garden and cheers up the pond environment.
Its name comes from its lovely pastel purple flowers that look like terrestrial hyacinths and bloom through summer. Also, this plant can brighten up your home when brought indoors.
This plant tends to multiply pretty quickly, particularly in USDA zones 8 and up. And you need to thin out the plant regularly to avoid the rosettes from choking out other plants.
Water hyacinth is considered invasive because it grows rapidly, so do not let this plant get close to waterways.
When winter begins to roll, you can take a few rosettes inside and leave the plants in your pond and start to grow new ones next spring.
3) Duckweed (Genus Lemna)
Duckweed is a small floating plant on the surface of ponds or lakes. You can easily find them in slow-flowing or still bodies of water. However, this plant can also thrive in well-aerated ponds with high levels of nutrients.
The plant has similar benefits to ponds that come from regular aquatic plants. Aquatic pets love to feed on duckweed. And these are often allowed to control the plant’s invasive characteristic to avoid taking over the entire pond.
4) Hornwort (Ceratophyllum Demersum)
Hornwort has been considered one of the hardiest submerged plants and a favorite among pond owners due to its oxygenating properties.
This plant is easy to grow. Toss a few strands into your pond and allow the plants to take care of the rest.
Hornwort may look delicate, but the plant can thrive either in a free-floating position or anchored down with small weights, making their roots a refuge of little aquatic life.
Moreover, it becomes the pond owner’s favorite plant due to its various horn-like leaf structures that produce a substantial amount of oxygen.
Plus, it can tolerate a constant change of light and temperature, making the plant easy to care for.
If you live in an area with a colder climate, you don’t have to worry because hornwort can tolerate even extreme water conditions. And keeping your pond’s pH between 6 and 7.5 allows the plant to thrive.
5) Water Sprite (Ceratopteris Thalictroides)
Water sprite is a pond plant with various sizes and appearances that prefers to establish roots in the mud or a rocky substrate to anchor it down.
It has pale green foliage that turns to brown when it reaches maturity with firmly held erect.
The versatile pond plant that belongs to fern species can thrive in either full shade or under direct sunlight with water pH between 6-8 and temperatures between 68 and 80°F.
However, avoid growing water sprites in a pond of goldfish. This oxygenating pond plant appears to be quite palatable to your aquatics pets.
6) Waterweed (Elodea Canadensis)
Another popular favorite oxygenating pond plant is the waterweed. This plant requires regular maintenance to avoid overtaking the pond. It grows pretty quickly, but by pruning excess stems keep the plant under control.
However, when considering growing this type of oxygenating plant in your pond, keep in mind that this plant likes to be eaten by your pond fish.
Koi and goldfish love to feed on waterweed, making the plant unable to survive in the long run.
You can grow this plant in a separate container and use it as a supplemental food source if you’re looking to enrich their diet.
7) Arrowhead (Sagittaria Subulata)
Arrowhead is a pond plant highly recommended for newbies. It has edible tubers and grows best at the pond’s edges with shallow waters, either entirely submerged or partially above the surface.
The plant resembles arrowhead-shaped leaves that supply plentiful amounts of oxygen.
It can tolerate severe temperature fluctuations and can thrive anywhere between 59°F to 84°F.
8) Eelgrass (Vallisneria)
Eelgrass is another naturally oxygenating flowering plant that grows underwater in your pond.
It has tall, wavy leaves that can grow up to two feet tall. However, you can trim the plant down and let it regrow from the roots.
The plant is a perennial with a lifespan of two years. It can spread like an underwater meadow, but you can easily pull up the plants using the water rake.
Eelgrass is a hardy plant that thrives well with larger fish in the deep ponds.
9) Fanwort (Cabomba)
Fanworts comes with bright green, delicate and silk-like, fan-shaped leaves that thrive in still or slow-moving waters. It is much favored by aquarists as an oxygenating plant and for providing refuge to fish.
The plant is attractive with small, soft, and delicate leaves and stems. And it makes a perfect haven for ponds with tiny fishes.
It prefers a pond with a muddy bottom to establish roots about 3-10 feet deep, yet produces small flowers above the water’s surface.
10) Red Rotala (Rotala Macrandra)
Rotala is a semi-submerged pond plant that also thrives fully submersed, known for its beautiful and vibrant robust leaves that are excellent in providing your fish with oxygen.
However, this plant requires ample light, soft water, a sufficient amount of carbon dioxide, and a spacious place to thrive. Besides, it demands a minimal amount of iron to stay vibrant.
When considering feeding this oxygenating plant to keep the color attractive, control quick-growing algae that absorbs the fertilizer’s nutrients.
11) Water Wisteria (Hygrophila Difformis)
Water wisteria is an aquatic plant that is a champion oxygenator. This plant is known to be hardy and grows best in the deep water with ample amounts of light.
This aquatic plant also prefers nutrient-rich water and benefits from additional carbon dioxide. Also, the plant is easy to propagate from cuttings.
Its gorgeous lace-like foliage in bright green produces beautiful blue flowers when you put them above the water surface.
Water wisteria also grows pretty fast, which is why it needs trimming maintenance to avoid overtaking the pond.
The plant loves moderate amounts of light with temperatures between 74 and 84°F and a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5.
12) Horsetail (Equisetum Hyemale)
Horsetail Rush plants add interest to your water garden aesthetic and highlights the tropical atmosphere. Its stalks display bright green color in spring and turn evergreen come winter.
It features slender stalks that resemble bamboo and can grow up to 2 to 3-inch tall. It prefers shallow water and grows best at the edge of the ponds.
And this perennial plant becomes the favorite of many landscape experts. It adds character to your water garden and can withstand the cold.
13) Blue Iris (Iris Versicolor)
Water Iris is a colorful flowering semi-aquatic plant often used as an attractive backdrop for any goldfish pond.
The plant is known to be one of the best oxygenating plants that can remove toxins from the garden water. Since it is a toxic plant, this will also keep away any predators trying to hunt your fish.
Some varieties can tolerate periods of soil dryness but prefer moist soil year around. Blue Iris requires either a full or partial sun and loves to feed which helps it to thrive and keep blooming.
The Four Types of Oxygenating Plants
There are four main types of pond plants. They are submerged, floating, marginal, and bog. And these can all enhance the pond’s aesthetic appeal and create a soft border to an unattractive pond edge.
- Submerged Oxygenating Pond Plant
Submerged pond plants grow best in shallow pots or any plant basket of pea gravel or aquatic planting media.
These types of plants create a well-balanced ecosystem, either in your pond or aquarium, by feeding the nutrients and controlling the rapid blooms of algae.
This feeding process is what we call oxygenating the water garden. And the feeding operation naturally filters the water in the pond
- Floating Oxygenating Pond Plant
Floating pond plants are a growing spread across the water surface of the pond.
Some of these plants come with attractive flowers and foliage to provide shade to the aquatic inhabitants. They absorb nutrients and help prevent the rapid growth of the algae population.
However, make sure your water temperatures have started to warm up to 65 degrees and above before adding the pond plant to your water garden come spring.
Some floating plants cannot tolerate cold water, while others may tolerate the water temperature about 59-60, but they will not spread until the water warms up.
- Bog Oxygenating Pond Plant
Bog plants like rhubarb and pitcher plants grow best with bog-like conditions, particularly when placed along the pond edges.
These types of pond plants are suitable for ponds with artificial barriers.
While it looks nice and provides an excellent refuge for aquatic inhabitants like frogs, they aren’t as effective at filtering water as other types.
- Marginal Oxygenating Pond Plant
Marginal plants like cattails, lotuses, rushes, and Egyptian papyrus are also known as emergent plants.
These plants are partially submerged about 6-inches just beneath the water surface.
Some marginal types produces beautiful blooms while others don’t, but they will definitely add interest to your pond.
Frequently Asked Questions About Oxygenating Pond Plants
1) Why Add Oxygenating Plants into your Pond?
Adding an oxygenating pond plant in your water garden will ensure your pond has plenty of dissolved oxygen. When oxygen levels fall below 3-ppm, it can cause your pet fish to die.
Most aquatic pets do best with the oxygen of at least 6-parts per million (ppm), or 6%. And adding oxygenating plants into your pond is essential to help provide sufficient oxygen that your aquatic pets require.
It helps filter the water pond and makes the habitat healthy, and nutrient absorption can be optimal for the pond inhabitants.
Preventing the algal population from overtaking the pond is another benefit of adding oxygenating plants to your water garden.
An uncontrolled population of algae can cause overconsumption of the pond’s oxygen. And this occurrence may lead to fish die-offs and pond stagnation overtime.
2) Are Oxygenating Plants Sufficient for Fish to Thrive?
The answer can be both yes and no. Yes, this may not be a problem if you only have a few small fish in your pond. And no, it can’t be enough if you have larger individuals or significant fish stock.
It is a smart idea to utilize both an electric aerator and oxygenating plants to safeguard your fish’s oxygen levels in the pond.
Moreover, taking advantage of both an aerator and pond plants’ benefits will provide sufficient dissolved oxygen to your pond inhabitants.
3) When is the Best Time to Plant a Pond Plant?
Adding oxygenating pond plants can be done either in the spring, summer, or fall. However, you have to wait until the last frost date in your area before adding plants like hyacinths and tropical lilies in the spring.
Also, for a newly installed pond, it is wise to let it develop for about 4-weeks before adding the plants in. And make sure to plant oxygenating plants of your choice in their growth period, between April and June.
4) How Do I Protect My Pond Plants in the Winter?
How to protect pond plants in winter is one of the most common questions pond owners ask.
Some plants are hardy enough to overwinter in the pond. But if your water garden is too shallow to overwinter your pond plants, you can store them in a styrofoam cooler.
Know your plant, and for sensitive plants, make sure to keep them in a cool, dark place before the weather turns too cold.
Also, you have to regularly check the plant to keep them damp by watering when you find they are almost dry and need water.
5) How Should I Fertilize My Oxygenating Plants?
Using fertilizer for your pond plants can help them grow stronger and healthier. Nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus in the fertilizer are the three essential nutrients your plant needs to grow healthy.
And considering high-quality fertilizer suitable for your pond plants can help establish roots and thrive.
But regular fertilizers aren’t formulated for pond plants which can be too harsh and can cause an unmanageable algal population. Using them can cause more harm to your ponds.
Utilizing inappropriate fertilizer may result in uncontrolled blooms of algae that may kill aquatic inhabitants.
6) How Can I Manage My Plants from Overtaking the Pond?
- Implement drawdowns
Implementing water drawdowns, placing them in container pots suitable for the pond, and incorporating a few more varieties of oxygenating plants are effective forms of control. These are the least expensive way to help you keep the plants from overtaking the pond.
- Introduce grass carp
Another way is to introduce aquatic inhabitants like grass carp that feeds on pond plants. This idea is useful to control the submerged type of pond plants.
- Use rakes and shovels
The use of rakes and shovels to remove portions of aquatic plants is also efficient, but this method is laborious to maintain.
- Place an aerator in the middle of the pond
Aside from helping oxygenation, putting an aerator in the middle of the pond can make laborious tasks of pond plant management easier.
Plants like duckweed will be pushed to the edges for easier removal and will reduce shading effects. An adequate amount of light to penetrate the pond will help minimize the duckweed population.
- The use of chemical treatments
The use of herbicides to manage aquatic vegetation is often the last resort for pond owners. Chemicals are quite expensive and can be toxic to most aquatic inhabitants.
And for these methods to be effective, the help of trained professionals is advised. Moreover, pond owners should start implementing control management in the winter and early spring to prevent plant growth and establishment.
If you have a koi pond or are keen on getting one, then check out:
Final Thoughts on Oxygenating Pond Plants
Growing a few varieties of oxygenating plants will help increase carbon dioxide and filter the water pond. It will also help enhance the aesthetic touch of your water garden.
Understanding precisely how to control the population correctly and prevent them from overtaking the pond may result in a clear, and healthier environment for your aquatic pets.
Besides, adding these plants to your pond does not require anchorage. Some float while others submerge as they provide cleaner refuge for the fish at the bottom of the pond.
Lastly, when you design a pond, try to mimic the natural fish habitat by adding the best oxygenating plants. But make sure to control the plant population to provide a better and healthier environment for your aquatic pets to thrive. Moreover, enjoy the aesthetic benefits of your water garden.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask below! Good luck!