Ponds, Pools and Lochans

Appendix 2. Appropriate plants for adding to new ponds

This appendix lists plants that are common and widespread throughout the British Isles (including Scotland), and that can be transplanted to new ponds within the following classes:

Submerged and floating-leaved plants of base-rich ponds

Plants for the drawdown zone and shallow water

Lower-growing herbs and grasses that can be added to ponds on base-rich soils

Marginal plants appropriate for acid conditions

Aquatic plants appropriate for acid conditions

Plants to avoid

Submerged and floating-leaved plants of base-rich ponds

Submerged plants do not always survive transplantation to a new pond, particularly where water quality is different to that of the original site, and it is often best just to let them colonise naturally. The following submerged plants are fairly tolerant of conditions in at least moderately unpolluted base-rich ponds:

  • Curled pondweed (Potamogeton crispus)
  • Various species of water-crowfoot (Ranunculus species)
  • Various species of water-starworts (Callitriche species)
  • Spiked Water-milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum)
  • Rigid hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum)
  • Marestail (Hippuris vulgaris)

Three common floating-leaved plants are tolerant of a wide range of conditions:

  • Broad-leaved pondweed (Potamogeton natans)
  • Yellow water-lily (Nuphar lutea)
  • White water-lily (Nymphaea alba)
Plants for the drawdown zone and shallow water:

Most marginal water plants are tolerant of natural water level fluctuations and will grow both in shallow water and on damp marshy ground. When planting up the pond edge, encourage a mix of tall emergents and, just as important, low grasses and herbs. Plant in small mixed clumps - they will soon spread. Perennial species planted into damp ground at the waters edge generally take well regardless of the time of year in which they are planted.

Suitable taller marginal plants include:

  • Yellow Iris (Iris pseudacorus)
  • Great Pond-sedge (Carex riparia)
  • Marsh Woundwort (Stachys palustris)
  • Reed Canary-grass (Phalaris arundinacea)
  • Gipsywort (Lycopus europaeus)
  • Reed Sweet-grass (Glyceria maxima)
  • Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
  • Branched Bur-reed (Sparganium erectum)
  • Various species of rush (Juncus species)
  • Bulrush (Typha latifolia)
  • Great Water-dock (Rumex hydrolapathum)

Note that the last five of these species are usually very vigorous. It is inadvisable to plant them at the edge of small shallow ponds, unless a marshland pond dominated by tall emergents is required, or continuous plant management is to be undertaken.

Lower-growing herbs and grasses that can be added to ponds on base-rich soils include:
  • Amphibious Bistort (Persicaria amphibia)
  • Water Forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides)
  • The floating sweet-grasses (Glyceria species)
  • Water Mint (Mentha aquatica)
  • Creeping Bent (Agrostis stolonifera)
  • Creeping Bent (Agrostis stolonifera)
  • Common Water-plantain (Alisma plantago-aquatica)
  • Marsh Foxtail (Alopecurus geniculatus)
  • Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)
  • Fools Water-cress (Apium nodiflorum)
  • Marsh-marigold (Caltha palustris)
  • Common Spike-rush (Eleocharis palustris)
  • Marsh Pennywort (Hydrocotyle vulgaris)
Marginal plants appropriate for acid conditions
  • Star Sedge (Carex echinata)
  • Soft Rush (Juncus effusus)
  • Common Sedge (Carex nigra)
  • Hard Rush (Juncus inflexus)
  • Bottle Sedge (Carex rostrata)
  • Ragged-robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi)
  • Marsh Thistle (Cirsium palustre)
  • Creeping Forget-me-not (Myosotis secunda)
  • Tufted Hair-grass (Deschampsia caespitosa)
  • Bog-myrtle (Myrica gale)
  • Common Spike-rush (Eleocharis palustris)
  • Tormentil (Potentilla erecta)
  • Marsh Willowherb (Epilobium palustre)
  • Lesser Spearwort (Ranunculus flammula)
  • Floating Sweet-grass (Glyceria fluitans)
  • Marsh Violet (Viola palustris)
  • Yellow Iris (Iris pseudacorus)
  • Marsh Speedwell (Veronica scutellata)
  • Articulated Rush (Juncus articulatus)
  • Deergrass (Trichophorum caespitosum)
  • Sharp-flowered Rush (Juncus acutiflorus)
  • Bog Stitchwort (Stellaria uliginosa)
  • Bulbous Rush (Juncus bulbosus)
Aquatic plants appropriate for acid conditions
  • White Water-lily (Nymphaea alba)
  • Intermediate Water-starwort (Callitriche hamulata)
  • Bog Pondweed (Potamogeton polygonifolius)
  • Alternate Water-milfoil (Myriophyllum alterniflorum)
Plants to avoid

Avoid introducing non-native plants, especially into ponds in the wider countryside. It is particularly important not to introduce some of the very vigorous alien plants that can take over ponds and exclude native species. These include:

  • Canadian Pondweed (Elodea canadensis)
  • Water Fern (Azolla filiculoides)
  • Nuttalls Pondweed (Elodea nuttallii)
  • New Zealand Swamp-stonecrop (Crassula helmsii)
  • Curly Waterweed (Lagarosiphon major)
  • Floating Pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides)
  • Parrots-feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)
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