News and Tips

Ten Top Aquatic Plants

We asked Simon at RHS Medal winning Lilies Water Gardens in Surrey for his favourite aquatic plants and these are the 10 he nominated.  Although our own all time favourite has to be Caltha Palustris for its bright yellow flowers on early Spring days, Justicea Americana is our No 2 on this list just because its a bit different.  We also liked that several of the plants are good for attracting and protecting wildlife.   You can find more information on the growing conditions and habit for each of the plants below by visiting the Lilies Water Gardens blog.
Hydrocotyl Vulgaris or "Marsh Pennywort" has small, attractive green leaves and is a floating plant which will grow to a water depth of 0-6 cm.  

Caltha Palustris is the easily recognised "Marsh Marigold" with its golden yellow flowers.  It's easy to grow in any size pond to a water depth of 6 cm.

Nymphaea Steven Strawn is a deep red water lily with mottled leaves and is extremely free flowering.  The flowers are approx 6 inches across with strong and compact leaf growth.  It grows happily in water 30-45 cm deep.


Alisma Lanceolata has summer sprays of white flowers above bright green lance shaped leaves and is a favourite of damsel and dragonfly nymphs.  It grows to a water depth of 16 cm.

Ranunculus Aquatilis is an oxygenating plant with ivy shaped floating leaves and white buttercup shaped flowers in late Spring.  This plant is good for streams, planted over gravel or between rocks and stones, as well as for ponds.  It grows to a water depth of 10 cm.

Iris Versicolor Rowden Concerto is a clump forming plant that has masses of unusual dark purple flowers. This iris will grow strongly in a water depth of 0-10 cm.

Justicea Americana is a marginal plant that carries unusual orchid like flowers and has attractive leaves. Imported from America, its leaves emerge as tidy clumps in summer and it grows to 30 cm high.  It grows up to a water depth of 20 cm.

Butomus Umbellatus Rosenrot is a darker pink German hybrid of our native pale pink Butomus Umbellatus.  Also known as "Flowering Rush" it grows to 90 cm tall and in water 10-20 cm deep.  It is good for wild planting as it will not flower if the rhizomes are congested. 

Acorus Calamus is a Rush with tidy clumps of bright green sword-like leaves.  It's also known as "Sweet Flag" or "Scented Rush" as it produces a strong sweet scent when the leaves are rubbed.  Water depth 0-30 cm.  It is also a favourite of dragon and damsel flies.

Myasotis Palustris or "Water Forget-Me-Not" is a free flowering native which will grow in water depth of 0-10 cm.  It looks good intermingled with rushes or iris, or by itself, and will provide a bright flush of blue during summer.