Container water gardening is a rapidly-growing garden hobby and provides an opportunity for a new group of plants. Plants are what makes your container water garden, well, a garden! They add texture, interest, and a splash of color to a patio, garden, or other indoor or outdoor space. They also help keep the water clear and free of algae, while providing perching spots for birds.

To make choosing plants for your mini pond easier, we’re sharing our list of favorite aquatic plants for smaller water gardens. And even better – you can add any of these plants to any size pond, large or small! Not to mention, you can even add small fish to your aquatic container, creating your very own mini pond to enjoy without ever having to pick up a shovel.

1. Parrots Feather, Red-stemmed

Myriophyllum brasiliense

Feathery lime green foliage on vibrant red stems creates a mat that will spill over the edge of your container. Place it in full sun to partial shade. It grows 3” to 4” tall and is a great choice for both small ponds and container water gardens.

Zone 5

Parrot feather, pond plant

2. Dwarf Papyrus

Cyperus isocladus

Feathery heads on sturdy green stalks create a striking vertical element in mini ponds. Use this charmer as an annual in colder climates. Dwarf papyrus enjoys a little shade but can take full sun, too.

Zone 8-10

dwarf papyrus, aquatic plant

3. Pickerel Plant

Pontederia cordata

Add a bit of height and color to your mini pond with the impressive pink or purple pickerel plant. It prefers full sun to part shade and grows 24” to 30” tall. This easy-to-grow aquatic plant rewards you with bright blue flowers on top of lush green foliage.

Zone 3-8

Aquatic pickeral pond plant

4. Sweetflag, Dwarf Variegated

Acorus gramineus variegatus

This flexible plant an attractive choice for mini ponds with its tufts of green and white. Sweetflag prefers full sun to partial shade. It can tolerate a range of water depths, can grow to 12 inches tall, and is a great choice for in the margins of in-ground ponds, too.

Zone 5-9

Sweetflag aquatic plant

5. Yerba Mansa

Anemopsis californica

Looking for a smaller plant that blooms all summer long? This dainty white flower with a cone-shaped center is a perfect choice. Yerba Mansa prefers partial shade. As they age, the flowers form pink spots.

Zone 4-10

Yerba Mansa, Aquatic pond plant

6. Taro, Red-stemmed

Colocasia ‘Fontenessii’

Add a stunning effect to your container water garden with the glossy green leaves on deep purple stems of Taro. Each leaf is a work of art on top of 36” high stems. It enjoys full sun but can handle a bit of shade. Choose Taro when you want an especially tall plant for your mini pond.

Zone 8-10

Red stemmed taro aquatic plant

7. Water Lettuce

Pistia stratiotes

Soft and velvety, this floating plant grows best in shady to partly sunny locations. Each “flower” sends out shoots to create more rosettes. If your container gets crowded, simply thin them out.

Zones 9-11

Water lettuce pond plant

8. Cardinal Flower

Lobelis cardinalis

Scarlet red flowers on this tall-growing plant provide a splash of vibrant color next to mostly green aquatic plants. Plant this 2’ to 3’ flower in a sunny location. Hummingbirds and swallowtail butterflies love the sweet nectar of the Cardinal Flower.

Zones 5-9

Cardinal flower, pond plant

9. Helvola Waterlily

Nymphaea ‘Pygmaea Helvola’

Helvola is the smallest of all the hardy waterlilies with delightful 2” to 3” star-shaped blooms and heavily mottled 1” to 2” pads. It prefers full sun to partial shade and blooms all summer long.

Zones 4-10

Waterlily aquatic plant

10. Water Hyacinth

Eichhornia crassipes

Indispensable to any water feature, this plant cleans the water while rewarding you with pretty lavender flowers that grow to a height of six inches. Water hyacinth tends to spread quickly but can be easily thinned out. It prefers full sun to partial shade.

Zones 9-11

Water hyacinth pond plant