Florida Water Plants: Enhancing Your Garden and Protecting the Environment

Having a pond in your garden and don’t know how to set up a greenery attire for it? You can try Floria water plants!

florida water plants

Florida is home to a diverse array of water plants that play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of wetlands and providing shelter for numerous animals.

From floating lilies that add vibrancy to ponds and lakes to eelgrass meadows that act as oxygen suppliers and water filters, these plants offer a host of benefits.

Not only do they enhance the beauty of your garden, but they also contribute to the health of the ecosystem.

Benefits of Having Water Plants in Your Garden

Water plants offer a multitude of advantages that go beyond aesthetics. Let’s explore some of the key benefits of incorporating water plants into your garden:

  • Water Quality: Water plants act as natural filters, removing pollutants and excess nutrients from the water. This helps to achieve a balanced and healthy aquatic ecosystem.
  • Mosquito Control: Certain water plants, like floating ferns and water lilies, attract mosquito-eating insects such as dragonflies. These natural predators help to reduce mosquito populations in your garden.
  • Biodiversity: Water plants provide essential shelter, nesting sites, and food sources for a wide range of wildlife, including frogs, turtles, birds, and insects. By including these plants in your garden, you create an inviting environment for these species.
  • Cooling Effect: Through transpiration, water plants release moisture into the air, creating a natural cooling effect that makes your outdoor space more comfortable.
  • Pond Aesthetics: There are various visually stunning water plant species, such as lotus flowers and water irises. Adding them to your pond or water feature enhances its beauty and creates a tranquil atmosphere.
florida water plants

Additionally, some water plants oxygenate pond water by releasing oxygen bubbles from their leaves, while others act as natural algae controllers by shading the surface area and blocking sunlight.

Popular Types of Water Plants in Florida

Water plants are essential to Florida’s ecosystem, providing benefits for both humans and wildlife.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the popular types of water plants found in Florida:

Upland plants

florida water plants

Upland plants grow just above the waterline and can tolerate wet feet and seasonal flooding.

They include bunching grasses like cordgrass, shrubs such as wax myrtle, and trees like cypress and maple.

Upland (above water line, can tolerate flooding)
CordgrassSpartina bakeri
Muhly grassMuhlenbergia capillaris
Wax myrtleMyrica cerifera
Button pushCephlanthus occidentalis
Love grassEragrastis elliotti
BeautyberryCallicarpa americana
ElderberrySambucus canadensis
GoldenrodSolidago spp.
Upland trees
Bald cypressTaxodium distichum
Pond cypressTaxodium ascendens
Red mapleAcer rubrum
American ElmUlmus americana
SweetgumLiquidambar straciflua
Dahoon hollyIIex cassine
Sweet bay magnoliaMagnolia virginiana
Carolina willowSalix caroliana

Riparian plants

florida water plants
Golden canna

Riparian plants grow right at the water’s edge. They prefer moist soil and can tolerate seasonal flooding.

Riparian (above water line, still wet)
Golden cannaCanna Flaccida
Blue flag irisIris virginica
FrogfruitPhyla nodiflora
BacopaBacopa monnieri
Lizard tailSaururus cernuus
Swamp hibiscusHibiscus cocinneus
Swamp milkweedAsclepias perennia
Carolina asterAster caroliianum
Marsh beggartickBidens mitis
Cardinal flowerLobelia cardinalis
Cinnamon fernOsmunda cinnamomea

Emergent plants

florida water plants
Duck Potato

Emergent plants generally live in at least 2″ of water or right next to the waterline.

Their roots are in the water, while their leaves and flowers emerge above the surface.

Popular emergent plants include the purple-flowered pickerelweed and the white-flowered duck potato.

Emergent (at least 2” water)
PickerelweedPontederia cordata
Duck potatoSagittaria sp.
Soft rushJuncus effusus
Giant bulrushSchoenoplectus californicus
Alligator flagThalia geniculata
SpikerushEleocharis geniculata
CattailTypha latifolia

Littoral plants

florida water plants
Water Lily

Littoral plants grow in deep water, rooted at the bottom of lakes or water bodies. Examples include water lilies, bulrush, and maidencane grass.

These plants contribute more than just beauty. They help maintain water quality by absorbing excess nutrients and preventing soil erosion.

Littoral (deep water)
Water lilyNymphea odorata
Cow lilyNuphar lutuem
MaidencanePanicum hemitomun
CutgrassLeersia hexandra
American lotusNelumbo lutea

Source of information: University of Florida IFAS Extension

How to Care for Water Plants in Florida

florida water plants

Proper care is essential for maintaining water plants in Florida, given the unique climate and environment.

Follow this 4-step guide to ensure your water plants thrive in the Sunshine State:

1. Select the Right Plants

Choose aquatic plants native to Florida, such as bulltongue arrowhead or pickerelweed. Ensure they are suitable for your specific water conditions, whether it’s a pond, lake, or wetland.

2. Supply Enough Sunlight

Most water plants thrive in full sun exposure. Place them in an area that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.

3. Control Water Quality

Regularly check and adjust pH levels to ensure they’re in the acceptable range for your chosen plants. Install a filtration system to keep the water clean and free of debris.

4. Prune and Manage Growth

Cut off dead leaves and flowers to promote healthy growth. Monitor the spread of invasive species, removing them promptly to preserve the balance of your water plant ecosystem.

Adding intrigue, some water plants in Florida have adapted to survive droughts by becoming inactive during dry seasons.

This survival strategy allows them to conserve energy until conditions improve.

Additionally, certain water plants act as natural filters, purifying the water and providing homes for various aquatic species.

florida water plants

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Water Plant Ecosystem

Ensuring a healthy water plant ecosystem is crucial for the well-being of aquatic life. Here are some tips to help your water plants flourish and promote harmony:

  • Select the Right Species: Consider sunlight, water temperature, and depth when choosing plants suitable for your water conditions.
  • Trim Regularly: Remove excess foliage and dead parts to prevent overcrowding and disease.
  • Provide Nutrition: Fertilize with organic or aquatic plant fertilizer to provide essential nutrients without harming other aquatic organisms.
  • Monitor Water Quality: Keep an eye on pH levels, dissolved oxygen levels, and temperature. Unbalanced water can damage your water plants.
  • Watch out for Invasive Species: Take prompt action to remove invasive species that can harm native plants and disrupt the ecological balance.

Moreover, maintaining a variety of submerged, floating, and emergent plants is crucial for the sustainability of the ecosystem and enhances the landscape’s visual appeal.

florida water plants

Let’s explore an exciting true story about taking care of water plants in Florida.

In the early 20th century, renowned horticulturist Walter Tennyson Swingle introduced various foreign aquatic plant species to Florida’s ecosystems, aiming to increase biodiversity.

While some of these introductions thrived and integrated well with the local flora and fauna, others became extremely invasive and disrupted native ecosystems.

This historical event serves as a reminder of the importance of careful selection when introducing foreign plant species to delicate environments.

I vividly recall visiting a botanical garden in Florida where scientists and volunteers worked diligently to save endangered lotus flowers.

Through hand-pollination and careful cultivation, they successfully restored the population of lotus flowers.

Now, future generations can revel in the beauty of this remarkable species.

Where to Buy Water Plants in Florida

florida water plants

If you’re searching for water plants in Florida, you’re in luck!

The Sunshine State offers a diverse range of options, from local nurseries to specialized aquatic plant retailers. Visit www.fann.org to find Florida native plant nurseries.

With numerous lakes, rivers, and wetlands, Florida boasts a thriving market for water plants.

Nurseries offer various aquatic flora, including floating lilies and oxygenating plants.

Whether you’re creating a serene pond or enhancing an aquarium, there’s something for everyone.

Specialty stores provide even more variety, offering unique water plant species.

Knowledgeable experts are available to provide advice on plant care and maintenance, ensuring you select the best option for your specific needs.

florida water plants


Online platforms also serve as excellent resources.

You can browse through a wide selection, read detailed product descriptions, explore customer reviews, and even have the plants delivered right to your doorstep.

These platforms provide the convenience of finding the perfect water plants that match your preferences.

Conclusion: The Beauty and Benefits of Florida Water Plants

Florida water plants are not only visually appealing but also offer numerous benefits.

They help maintain clean and clear water, provide habitats for diverse aquatic life, and contribute to biodiversity in Florida’s water bodies.

florida water plants
Blue flag iris

Their beauty is undeniable, enhancing any aquatic environment’s allure.

Moreover, they filter out pollutants from the water, preventing algal blooms and improving water clarity.

These plants create homes for countless species of fish, insects, amphibians, and other wildlife.

The vegetation provides shelter and serves as a nursery for young aquatic animals, supporting biodiversity and maintaining ecosystem health.

Interestingly, Native Americans have long utilized Florida water plants for food, medicine, and even building materials, showcasing the strong bond between humans and these valuable resources.

florida water plants
American lotus

Frequently Asked Questions on Water Plants in Florida

What are some common water plants found in Florida?

Some common water plants in Florida include water lilies, pickerelweed, cattails, duckweed, water hyacinths, and water lettuce.

Can I grow water plants in my backyard pond?

Absolutely! Many water plants thrive in backyard ponds. Ensure you have the proper water depth, sunlight, and appropriate soil or containers for planting.

How do I care for water plants in Florida?

Water plants in Florida require regular maintenance, such as trimming dead leaves, fertilizing as needed, and controlling algae growth. It is also important to regularly monitor water pH levels.

Are water plants beneficial for the environment?

Yes, water plants provide numerous benefits for the environment. They oxygenate the water, provide habitat and food for various aquatic organisms, stabilize shorelines, and help filter pollutants.

Can I plant invasive water plants in Florida?

No, it is strongly discouraged to plant invasive water plants in Florida. These plants can spread quickly, outcompete native species, and disrupt the ecological balance of water bodies. Always choose native or non-invasive species.

Where can I purchase water plants in Florida?

Water plants can be purchased from local nurseries, garden centers, or online retailers specializing in aquatic plants. Ensure you choose reputable sources and select plants suitable for your specific water conditions.

By embracing the beauty and benefits of water plants responsibly, we can create a harmonious coexistence with nature for future generations to enjoy.