Hardy pond plants: 12 robust plants for the garden pond

Renewing the indispensable plants in the pond after every severe winter is bothersome and cumbersome. The solution: hardy pond plants.

Hardy pond plants: 12 robust plants for the garden pond

Hardy bank plants save a lot of work and are also decorative [Photo: Carmen Hauser / Shutterstock.com]

When planting gardens, it is always ideal to use plants that can withstand our weather without much effort. This can easily be done for your own pond.

In the following we have put together bank plantings and aquatic plants for you, which can also survive strong frosts in winter. Afterwards, we will also explain to you what you need to consider when caring for hardy pond plants.

Hardy bank plants

In the cold season, the pond plants not only have to be able to withstand the frosty air temperatures, but also the possibly frozen water surface. In the following we present some hardy plants for the bank of your garden pond, the location of which is mostly permanently fresh to moist.

  • Creeping Gunsel ( Ajuga reptans ):
    The Günsel grows wonderfully as a ground-covering pond edge perennial, also between the stones. The dark red foliage and the beautifully shaped rosettes are real eye-catchers. It is also extremely vigorous and adorns itself with large purple flower candles from May. As a native plant, it does not require any special winter protection.

Hardy pond plants: 12 robust plants for the garden pond

The Günsel looks wonderful on the pond bank [Photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock.com]

  • Common lady's mantle ( Alchemilla vulgaris ):
    The half-height perennial is widespread throughout Europe and colonizes moist, lime-rich and nutrient-rich soils. The lady's mantle is hardy, but should be cut back after flowering so that it sprouts again before the cold winter time. The young leaf rosette can withstand cold temperatures undamaged.
  • Ordinary water deast ( Eupatorium cannabium ):
    The wild shrub native to us still grows very well even on wet surfaces. The pink to reddish flowers do not appear until July, but can then be seen until October. The common water deast is hardy in Central Europe in all locations, as it moves into the ground as a perennial in autumn.

Hardy pond plants: 12 robust plants for the garden pond

The common water feast attracts many insects in summer [Photo: NazarPro / Shutterstock.com]

  • True meadowsweet ( Filipendula ulmaria ):
    The real meadowsweet feels very comfortable in the partial shade on the edge of a garden pond. All other species, such as the little meadowsweet ( Filipendula vulgaris ), are hardy with us. The salicylic acid it contains has a pain relieving and fever lowering effect. Therefore, in folk medicine, a tea is often made from the dried flowers.
  • Marsh cranesbill ( Geranium palustre ):
    This geranium prefers shady to partially shaded locations on the pond bank. The purple flowers appear from July to September. Wildlife can also be discovered in local swamp meadows. Special winter protection measures are therefore not to be taken.

Hardy pond plants: 12 robust plants for the garden pond

The shining flowers of the swamp cranesbill are hard to miss [Photo: RukiMedia / Shutterstock.com]

  • Pennywort ( Lysimachia nummularia ):
    The vigorous pennywort likes to grow on moist, nutrient-rich soils. It is wonderfully suitable as a ground cover and forms small yellow flowers from June to August. Mint herb, as it is also often called, is native to Central Europe and is usually hardy.
  • Common Knotweed ( Polygonum bistorta ):
    The plant with the beautiful tall, light pink inflorescences blooms from May to June. The knotweed is very easy to spread and is therefore wonderfully suitable as a ground cover for near-natural bank planting. Most of the knotweed plants are hardy in our latitudes. In particularly rough locations, however, protective measures may be necessary.

Hardy pond plants: 12 robust plants for the garden pond

The knotweed is also one of the hardy bank plants [Photo: Peter Turner Photography / Shutterstock.com]

Hardy floating plants

Floating plants have the opportunity to absorb a large part of the nutrients in the water, so that fewer algae form. Another advantage is a closed floating plant cover, which shades the water below and also effectively prevents algae growth. However, it is advisable to keep at least 50% of the water surface free to ensure sufficient gas exchange. The following floating plants are characterized by their good winter hardiness:

  • Frog bite ( Hydrocharis morsus-ranae ):
    This rosette-forming aquatic plant feels most comfortable in lime-poor, soft waters. The circular, heart-shaped leaves are reminiscent of those of the water lilies. During the winter, the frog bite forms permanent buds that sink to the bottom of the pond and sprout again in spring. In small ponds with a low water level, however, the permanent buds have to be removed and overwintered in an aquarium.

Hardy pond plants: 12 robust plants for the garden pond

The frog bite has its own winter strategy [Photo: Toni Genes / Shutterstock.com]

  • Tri-furrow duckweed ( Lemna trisulca ):
    This cross-shaped duckweed is widespread worldwide, but rarely blooms in Central Europe and instead reproduces vegetatively. In autumn it forms starch as a reserve material and sinks to the bottom of the pond, where it hibernates until spring.
  • Dwarf water lily ( Nymphaea tetragona ):
    The small dwarf water lily is also very suitable for ponds with low water levels. There are multicolored cultivars, all of which are hardy and can be left outdoors all year round. An exception is the yellow-flowered cross Nymphaae helvola , which is not completely frost-resistant and therefore has to be overwintered indoors.

Hardy pond plants: 12 robust plants for the garden pond

The flowers of the dwarf water lily appear from June to September, depending on the location [Photo: liomedia / Shutterstock.com]

  • Crab claws ( Stratiotes aloides ):
    The water aloe – as the crab claw is also called – forms rosettes from sword-shaped leaves with serrated edges. It only comes to the surface of the water to flower. In autumn the mother plant sinks to the bottom of the pond and forms so-called turions (also called stick shoots) as wintering organs. New daughter plants develop from it in winter.
  • Swimming fern ( Salvinia natans ):
    The floating fern is one of the fern family and, unlike the frog bite, needs calcareous water in order to thrive. The leaves, which cannot be wetted by water, float on the surface of the water. The plant dies in autumn and sinks to the bottom of the pond along with its spores. In the next spring, small new plants will form from it again.

Hardy pond plants: 12 robust plants for the garden pond

The leaves of the swimming fern lie on the surface of the water [Photo: IvanaJankovic / Shutterstock.com]

Expert maintenance tips for the pond

Unused parts of plants such as withered leaves or fallen leaves from surrounding plants should be removed promptly to prevent them from sagging to the pond floor and rotting there. Likewise, brown shoots, for example from water lilies and other floating plants, should ideally be cut off and removed in late autumn.

Note: If a lot of plant remains rot in the water, there is an extreme enrichment with nutrients, this is also referred to as “eutrophication”. This excess supply of nutrients favors the growth of algae and on the one hand the clarity of the water suffers, on the other hand the other plants also suffer. For some species that are considered to be winter hardy, it is advisable to place the plant basket a water zone lower to prevent the plant from freezing through. In the spring you shouldn't forget to put the basket back in its original place.

You can find more hardy plants here in our overview article.

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