I've been looking into which aquatic plants could do well and be beneficial for ponds or small pools in the Southeast US in zones 7 or 8.
I'd prefer to collect localnative varieties, both for being already well adapted to my area and being free. They would mainly be used as habitat for small fish and other wildlife, and to help oxygenate and clean the water.
I've always thought lillies looked really cool and have nice flowers for ornamental purposes. It seems like I've heard cattails seem to show up a lot of the time on their own, has that been the case for others?
Which aquatic plants would you recommend!?
Striving to grow things as naturally, simply, and cheaply as possible!
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From my own experience, I strongly advise against introducing Cattails into any pond where you don't want them to dominate. Initially I included them in my small frog pond and they completely covered it very quickly and were quite difficult to remove. Duck Potato is also aggressive though not as large. Watercress is well-behaved. Chinese Water Chestnut so far for me has not been too aggressive.
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
Thought I would put some pictures of some of the plants mentioned to give a visual. I'm sure most people know what a waterlily looks like, but the waterlily's flowers look so nice I just couldn't resist.
Bacopa is a popular aquarium plant that grows wild in the southeast, and has herbal uses. I just went through a search for aquatic plants for a small fish pond as well, and that was one that I used. I drilled holes in large bamboo culms and stuffed the roots into them and sunk them to the bottom. Sweet potato also makes a surprisingly good pond plant.
if you want some stuff thats hardy and good to eat heres whats on my list. (im in zone 5 but it al should grow in zone 8 )
Sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) is beautiful and its large nut like seeds tastes delicious
Yellow lily (Nuphar lutea) all parts are edible, and the seeds pop like popcorn!
Watercress, a european delicacy, good for soups and salads
Pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata) has edible leaves but most importantly edible starchy seeds that can be eaten like sunflower seed or made into flour, and is safe to eat cooked or raw.
water celery (Oenanthe javanica) is an ornamental (pink varieties exist) water plant that tastes strongly of celery, good for soups etc.
watermeal (Wolffia spp.) is a duckweed type floating plant used as a veg in tropical asia but is hardy. its 20 percent protein, higher than soy.
all of these besides the watermeal and watercress are also highly ornamental, so you can have a beautiful pond and eat it too!
The ~500-gallon pond that came with our rental is not well designed for planting; it's basically a deep hole in the ground with no shelves on the sides. Two summers ago I had it loaded up with water lettuce (from one tiny Lowe's plant!) that the frogs just loved. They could hang out in the water with their heads popped up, looking around, and I just loved it. Then I didn't start any this year and the frogs disappeared. Green Deane says it's a famine food, edible if cooked: http://www.eattheweeds.com/water-lettuce/ We are cautioned here about not letting it escape into the waterways.
I also planted water celery at the pond edges, and it's taking over. It even outcompetes the water mint. At first I regretted planting it because it's so invasive, but the chickens adore it (almost as much as garlic chives, which they beg for), so I grab a few fists full of it on the way to the coop each morning. We've had a mild winter, so it's been putting out the greenery. I wouldn't dare use it for chop-and-drop, though. It roots very easily and spreads everywhere. It's pretty, though.
Bacopa is an pond edge species. Pennywort (aka dollarweed) make great salad greens and is good for fermenting. It will grow in shallow water but is a bit invasive. Arrowhead, Wapato and Duck Potato (Sagittaria spp) have tubers which were a staple of Native Americans. Got to dig for them under water though.
Chinese water chestnut is a non-native, highly invasive aquatic plant. Thanks for keeping it native (and what is "native" is a topic for another day).
Because mine dry down by the end of summer I am experimenting with wild rice and other rice verities. Looking for a rice that will sprout at 40 degrees Ferenhight Or keep growing if sprouted warmer then planted. I don't want to be transplanting if I don't have to.