The Top 25 Water Garden Plants, Selected by ATP Members

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Posted by @dave on
Here's a report of the most popular water garden plants from our database!

Photo by gardengus
#1: Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum)

@virginiarose says, "This plant is a lot better than a Sunflower because It doesn't need to be watered every day. I hardly ever water mine. This plant has seeds, which attract birds; nectar, pollen and water, which attract a lot of insects and butterflies; and the insects attract more birds!"
Photo by gardengus
#2: Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

@Marilyn says, "When I was growing up in Centerville, OH (a southern suburb of Dayton, OH), my parents planted an American Sycamore on their quarter-acre lot, as well as other types of trees. My dad planted it within a year of building the house and they had the house for 16 years. As the years went by, that tree shaded the whole house in the summer so well that the AC didn't have to be used.

Then, when they moved to Lebanon, OH, and built another house, they already had American Sycamores growing on their 5-acre property.

I always loved seeing those beautiful trees! To this day, whenever I see an American Sycamore, I remember the wonderful trees growing in the Centerville and the Lebanon yards!

DH and I don't have a large enough yard to grow this wonderful tree, but if we did, we'd grow it!

Love the peelings on the bark and the distinctive white bark color underneath the peelings!"
Photo by gardengus
#3: Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

@jmorth says, "Habitat preferred - low, wet areas in prairies, borders of marshes, ponds, and ditches. Monarchs really love them.
Interesting seeds and seedpods.

@SongofJoy added, "Pink Swamp Milkweed looks a lot like Butterfly Weed except that the mid-summer flowers are rosy-pink and plants have a succulent texture. Growing about 3 feet tall, this perennial needs full sun and can take, but does not require, boggy conditions. It is a butterfly magnet."
Photo by flaflwrgrl
#4: Narrow-Leaved Sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius)

@gingin says, "This plant is a VERY prolific self sower! I would suggest planting it somewhere you won't mind if it tries to take over. Roots run deep. New plants are easiest to pull in the spring when they first appear...otherwise be prepared to dig."
Photo by wildflowers
#5: Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)

@SongofJoy says, "Blue-eyed Grass is a perennial under 1 foot high. It has small star-shaped flowers with soft blue petals and yellow centers on long, narrow leaves resembling grass. In the wild, the plants grow in open woody areas and clumps are small. When grown without competition and given better soil and more moisture, they thrive. This is a good wildflower alternative to Monkey Grass. Several plants can spread to form a border providing pretty blue flowers from March into June. Grow in full sun to partial shade."
Photo by bonitin
#6: Iris (Iris pseudacorus)

@eclayne says, "The Yellow Flag Iris is a native of Europe, northwestern Asia and northern Africa. A wetland Iris, pseudacorus propagates aggressively by both rhizomes and prolific self seeding.

Per the USDA Plants Database, Noxious Weed Information:
Connecticut: Invasive, banned
Massachusetts: Prohibited
Montana: Category 3 noxious weed
New Hampshire: Prohibited invasive Species
Oregon: "B" designated weed, Quarantine
Washington: Class C noxious weed

Additional invasive resources listing I. pseudacorus include “The Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States” http://www.invasiveplantatlas.... and “Invasive Plants of the U.S.”

Numerous sterile cultivars and hybrids, notably the Pseudatas (I. pseudacorus x I. ensata) are available today for growing outside its native range."
Photo by eclayne
#7: Taro (Colocasia esculenta)

@eclayne says, "In the 5 month growing season here the largest tubers of the type I have produce 6'+H plants with leaves around 3'L. I plant in late May and lift after the frost has knocked them down (usually mid-October). They do fine in full sun to part shade but do best with lots of water. The newer leaves seem to have more marbling in part sun/shade. I also don't believe you can feed them too much. Easy to store dry over winter while dormant.

As C. esculenta produce many roots from the top of the tuber a good "growing medium/compost/mulch" on top of the soil is very beneficial. I use my own compost. Also note the new tubers and stolons also produce roots (which are much closer to the soil surface). These roots tend to spread out just below the surface. I dig a depression ~2' in diameter and 2" deep. Plant the tuber ~2" below the soil level and overfill the depression with ~3 to 4" of "growing medium/compost/mulch". This helps keep the roots cool and moist and gives them a good medium to grow in. A typical wood chip mulch won't do since it will inhibit root growth. Sometimes I'll mound more compost around the petioles later in the season. When I don't dig a depression I plant deeper and mound compost ~2-3" deep above the tuber.

A native of SE Asia, Taro is reported to have been cultivated for thousands of years and is now cultivated worldwide as a food crop. Because of this long period of cultivation and hybridization it is generally accepted that the actual species form is unknown to science. The tubers, petioles and inflorescence are eaten as a vegetable and the tubers are used in traditional medicine. Some varieties are considered invasive in the American southeast."
Photo by duane456
#8: True Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis scorpioides)

@jmorth says, "Wildflower in Illinois found along wet borders of streams and waste ground. Native of Europe."
Photo by rcn48
#9: Pink Turtlehead (Chelone lyonii 'Hot Lips')

@mom2goldens says, "This is a reliable bloomer and adds some needed color to the garden in the later part of summer. It does like some extra moisture, but does not seem picky about soil. Seems not to be prone to any insect or disease issues."

@SongofJoy added, "'Hot Lips' Turtlehead is a selection of the species that differs in having deeper green foliage and bright, deep pink flowers. Otherwise it's quite similar - 2 to 3 feet tall, late summer flowers, prefers average to moist soil and full sun."
Photo by Sharon
#10: Houttuynia (Houttuynia cordata 'Chameleon')

@Sharon says, "This little plant is a happy ground cover for shady areas. It has a tiny white bloom, much like a strawberry plant in mid spring. It is considered invasive in some climates, but it has taken 4 years for it to fill in a 2' x 4' semi shaded area here in zone 6/7."
Photo by robertduval14
#11: Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

@Mindy03 says, "Honey bees get nectar from this plant which produces a light amber honey."
Photo by Joy
  • Uploaded by Joy
#12: Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia 'Ruby Spice')

@SongofJoy says, "A sport of 'Pink Spires', 'Ruby Spice' is considered perhaps the finest truly pink Summersweet. It has 4 to 5 inch spikes of good bright rose pink, fragrant flowers for a month or more in mid-summer. It has a dense suckering habit growing to 8 feet by 6 feet and prefers sun or part shade and moisture."
Photo by valleylynn
#13: White Calla Lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica)

@eclayne says, "Like all Callas this is a South African native. Z. aethiopica is generally evergreen, if provided with adequate water, unlike other Callas. Easy to overwinter the rhizomes dry, in a cool dark space. It can be a "winter bloomer" and therefor may not bloom if grown like other Callas (as a tender bulb) in cold winter climates. May be a better choice outdoors in milder, wet winter locations. For instance, Z. aethiopica is a good choice as a perennial in Florida whereas the tuberous Callas (all the rest) tend to not survive (tuber rot) the cool wet winters.

The spathe is usually white with a wide mouth with a yellow spadix. The leaves are usually immaculate (without spots) although sometimes maculate (spotted). Berries are orange and soft when ripe, the spathe will wither at the top and turn green around the berries. The peduncle (flower stem) remains erect at this time."
#14: Taro (Colocasia esculenta 'Mojito')

@eclayne says, "Great colors and form and it likes full sun here. This year, 2012, they reached 5 feet plus and produced loads of pups close to the crown. The parent tuber rotted after potting up for overwintering 2011-12. Three pups survived and were potted up. Two were then planted in ground in mid-May. Both produced tubers large enough to overwinter,...hopefully.

Per the plant patent statement by Agristarts "...a naturally-occurring branch mutation of Colocasia esculenta `Midnight`..." Elephant Ear (Colocasia esculenta 'Midnight')"
Photo by Joy
  • Uploaded by Joy
#15: Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis 'Queen Victoria')

@BookerC1 says, "Prefers consistent soil moisture. Grows well at water's edge or in bog gardens. Suggested locations include a lightly shaded garden or at water's edge, planted with hosta, daylily, and spiderwort.

Beautiful rich burgundy foliage and brilliant scarlet blooms."

@Eli added, "I just purchased 25 Cardinal Flowers. I live in St Paul, MN.
My location is south-facing but receives filtered sun. Any tip for
a beginner? I eventually want to mass plant these beauties."
Photo by ShadyGreenThumb
#16: Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)

@critterologist says, "Great plant for a soggy spot, pond edge, or bog garden. I have it growing in a "pocket pond," a 22" diameter no-hole container, with no more than 4 inches of water over the crown. It survives zone 6 winters in the container with no problem. It's vigorous enough that you'd probably want to contain it around the edges of smaller ponds, or I think it would be a thug. (It out-competes anything else I try to put in the same container.)"
Photo by bonitin
#17: Garden Heliotrope (Valeriana officinalis)

@Bonehead says, "Gets about 5' tall. Self seeds."
Photo by Shelly
#18: Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata 'Ice Ballet')

@Newyorkrita says, "Beautiful white flowered form of Swamp Milkweed. Like the other milkweeds, it is the host plant for the Monarch Butterfly."
Photo by chelle
#19: Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

@SongofJoy says, "Marsh Marigold is a late spring bloomer for a sunny, moist area. Fifteen-inch mounded clumps of bright green, succulent, wavy-edged, rounded leaves produce bright yellow, shiny, 1 inch flowers that look like buttercups and are present from late spring to early summer. Marsh Marigold needs rich soil that never gets dry. If soil dries too much in the summer, the plant will go dormant. It will thrive in a wet sunny area."
Photo by Marilyn
#20: Red Maple (Acer rubrum Red Sunset®)

@virginiarose says, "This is a beautiful tree!!"
Photo by fiwit
#21: Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)

@SongofJoy says, "Bottlebrush Buckeye is a large suckering shrub native to moist woodlands of the southeastern coastal plain. In cultivation, given average to moist soil and full sun to part shade, Bottlebrush Buckeye forms a handsome dense suckering shrub colony approximately 10 feet by 10 feet. The flower display is outstanding and fall color is often a good yellow. Give this shrub plenty of room as a specimen planting or locate it at a moist wood's edge. When grown in more shade, it will tend to be open and wispy with much less flowering (but still attractive). (Sunlight Gardens)"
Photo by chelle
#22: Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)

@Marilyn says, "When I was growing up in Centerville, Oh (a southern suburb of Dayton, OH), my parents planted two Pin Oaks in the backyard. One on the left side and the other on the right side on their quarter-acre lot, as well as other types of trees. My dad planted it within a year of building the house and they had the house for 16 years. I don't know how old the trees were when they were planted as they were bearing acorns for many years they lived there. In the fall the leaves were a beautiful red color! I loved seeing the fall color, the acorns, and the trees themselves!

The trees kept their leaves late into the year. They seemed to be the last ones to drop.

A wonderful and beautiful tree!"
Photo by GoneTropical
#23: American Lotus (Nelumbo lutea)

@Mindy03 says, "Honey bees get pollen from this plant."
#24: Black Stem Elephant Ear (Colocasia fontanesii)

@JRsbugs says, "I have tried more than one Colocasia including 'Illustris' and 'Black Magic', this is the only one remaining alive. Illustris grew well from a tiny tissue culture seedling to make a large tuber but with two cold summers and going dormant over winter it gave up the ghost when there was not enough warmth for it to regrow in spring, these conditions do not affect 'Fontanesii' the same. In the UK it is advisable to keep them in a pot and bring inside over winter, this one will keep growing a little even over winter inside at temperatures around 16C give or take a little so the problem of bringing it into growth again does not exist. I think it prefers to be outside in summer, this year I kept it in a greenhouse but it didn't thrive, so natural rain water might encourage good growth as it brings down nitrogen although 2011 in the UK was exceptionally rain free. I grow it in a mix of gritty 'river soil' and lots of leafy compost which most bulbs thrive in. Runners are sent out from the main tuber and if they have room will make new tubers, I now have three in a larger pot than it was in originally, the first time it made a runner the pot wasn't wide enough for it to take root so I lost the advantage of having the plant make a new tuber."
Photo by chelle
#25: Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)

@Skiekitty says, "VERY soft wooded tree. Does not withstand high winds. If branches are broken in the late fall/winter/extreme early spring, the tree will "bleed" sap very profusely. This is not a sugar maple & is not suitable for making maple syrup. Tolerates extremes in temperature, once established tolerates drought. Very fast growing, so used a lot in urban settings (which it is NOT suitable for due to the brittle branches & the sappiness). Also drops lots of "berries" which is VERY messy & annoying. The berries (not the samaras, but something in between, not sure) are not sticky, but are produced in huge amounts. This is an important lumber tree."

Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Lots of other water Iris that are bertter than pseudocorus by coboro Mar 17, 2014 7:43 AM 2
Surprised Waterlilies were not in the top 25 .... by beckygardener Mar 16, 2014 7:02 PM 10

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