Pond Plants

Having a koi pond is a wonderful way to diversify your backyard or business’s ecosystem, and your pond can become a centerpiece for your family, neighbors, and guests to enjoy.

Now that you’ve built your pond, you may want to decorate your pond. You need to consider a lot of things when choosing vegetation, including pond temperature, climate, and water regulation. You also need to consider whether or not the plants you choose are invasive, if they attract bugs, and more problems you probably wouldn’t normally consider when going to the store to buy a houseplant.

Have no fear, because we’re here to provide you with a handy guide for choosing plants that will help your pond look great and stay in great shape.

Why Add Plants at All?

Decorating can be a daunting task, whether it’s the inside of your home or your business or a holiday card. So, why bother decorating your koi pond, which looks beautiful as it is? Well, plants can help your pond function properly.

Plants are generally excellent at keeping your pond water oxygenated. Remember how you learned in elementary school that trees release oxygen to help humans breathe? This is true for fish, too. Your koi need clean, fresh water to remain healthy and long-living, so keeping your water oxygenated is an essential part of maintaining a pond.

Also, most plants provide shelter for your koi, which helps them avoid predators and avoid the sun during the hot summer months. Adding plants to your pond will also provide shade to regulate your pond’s temperature and keep your koi cool, which is essential to prolonging their lifespan.

Plants can also act as a food source for pond inhabitants, which can add to your pond’s biodiversity as they may attract other small animals or insects. Other plants are there to soak up excess gunk in your water, such as fertilizers and harmful nitrates, and they can help prevent your pond from algae blooms or generally unsightly overgrowth.

Plants to Keep your Koi Pond Fresh

The type of plants you decide to use for your pond also depends on personal preference: Do you prefer floating plants or ones that grow out of the bottom of your soil? What matters more to you, beauty or maintenance? We’re going to help tackle these questions with a few options to get you started on choosing the right plants to keep your koi and your water happy.

Water Lotus

The water lotus is a quintessential koi pond plant. Not only do they look gorgeous, but they can help your pond with necessary functions. Not to be confused with the water lily, which has a slit in the middle of the leaves like you’d see in a frog pond, water lotuses have large leaves and produce a white or pink flower. The best part about this plant is that it floats, so it is highly adaptable to all types of ponds. Natural bottom, as well as rubber and rock bottom ponds, would benefit greatly with the addition of the water lotus, and your koi will thank you for the shade they bring.

They grow best in the summertime when the temperature is around 75-87°F. These plants grow quickly, so make sure to keep an eye on them to prevent overgrowth, as they can quickly take over your pond’s surface and attract mosquitos. The water lotus can be planted as shallow as 2 inches into water, or as deep as 18 inches or more, and you can pretty easily keep them propagated with a little bit of effort.

Horsetail Reed

If you’ve ever been on the Jungle Cruise at Disney World (or any ride, movie, or show that has a swamp) you’ve probably encountered horsetail reed before. Horsetail Reed is a bamboo-like plant that is excellent for water filtration.

Like water lotuses, the plant grows very quickly, usually in the damp soil around the edges of ponds. Horsetail can grow up to 3 feet tall, but the bamboo-like stalks stay narrow, so it is very easy to control your plant distribution and prevent overgrowth.

Horsetail can survive in the cold, just like your koi, but is best grown once the temperature hits around 60°F, or early spring. This plant can give your koi the shade it needs and beautify your pond’s landscape, but it isn’t easy to get rid of. So once you plant your aquatic bamboo forest, make sure it’s what you want!

Water Iris

The Water Iris is a gorgeous floral plant that makes a great addition to koi ponds. It provides a beautiful pop of color and provides excellent water filtration that isn’t at risk for being koi food.

Water irises only bloom from late spring to early summer, so this plant is often ignored by pond enthusiasts, but that shouldn’t be the case. Irises can grow around 3-5 feet tall, and they look best in bunches. Like the water lotus, though, it can become an invasive species if you don’t keep a close eye on the bunches you plant, so make sure you take proper care of your pond’s ecosystem to prevent overgrowth.

Water iris is also an excellent choice for a pond with an artificial bottom. To plant water iris, you can use a pond plant basket to keep the roots intact and help give your pond a natural, summertime look. Water iris also thrive in wet soil outside of water, so you can even plant these around the perimeter of your pond if you don’t think planting them directly in your pond water is an option. Whatever you choose, your water iris will be an excellent source of soil nutrients, and your koi won’t eat them up.


Don’t forget about Smartweed, which some plant lovers consider a nuisance. Water smartweed can be beneficial to a koi pond, though, as it can purify the water and act as an important food source for your koi, just make sure to clean and replenish it often to prevent it from looking unsightly.

This plant has a very thick stem, so it can act as an anchor for soil at the bottom of your pond while helping create a vast underwater ecosystem to shelter your koi and other pond inhabitants.

Final thoughts

While there are hundreds of plants you can use to beautify and maintain your pond, these four are a jumping-off point for learning about the ecosystem you are trying to create. Each plant will provide a different value for you and your pond, but all of them can contribute to your koi’s overall well-being. Most pond plants are fantastic oxygenators and help purify your water, and they can all help when it comes to offering coverage from predators such as birds, bugs, and other predators.

When trying to create a beautiful landscape for your koi, consider plants that are relatively easy to manage and ones that will provide a healthy ecosystem for your pond to thrive.

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