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4 Aquatic Plants to Craft a Stunning Water Garden

Aquatic plants can be easily grown in backyard ponds or containers—and even be used for dramatic cut-flower arrangements. Get started with these recommendations by Eloy Gutierrez from Coronado Waterlilies (

Waterlily ‘Colorado’  

(Nymphaea ‘Colorado’) 

• Perennial hybrid • Pink flowers; spring through fall • 2″-4″H by 4′-6’W • Clay, loam soils • Zones 4A-10B • Full to partial sun • High water; low maintenance • Attracts: Bees, dragonflies

A day-blooming hardy perennial, ‘Colorado’ produces salmon-pink flowers that age throughout the day to yellows and reds on lower petals. These golden-centered flowers can be as large as 6 inches across. An established plant produces many flowering crowns, which are divided relatively easily.

Why we like it: “‘Colorado’ is our earliest and most prolific bloomer with a longer stem than most hardies, rising above the surface, making it a great candidate for a vase,” says Gutierrez. “The fragrance is pronounced and fruity.”

Dwarf Papyrus  

(Cyperus permacanthus) 

• Perennial • Greenish-brown blooms; summer • 14″-20″H by 12″-24″W • Clay, loam, sandy soils • Zones 8-12 • Full to partial sun • High water; medium maintenance • Attracts: dragonflies

Papyrus is known for its historical significance as the writing material used by ancient Egyptians. This showy tropical makes an excellent dragonfly perch, and its whimsical moplike seed heads on long stems are also stunning in floral arrangements and containers.

Why we like it: “Dwarf papyrus has several cultivars, and I grow the C. permacanthus and C. haspan mainly for their viviparity,” says Gutierrez. “I like dwarf papyrus at the pond’s edge and as a focal feature in a tub garden. It’s another aquatic gem that propagates easily by rhizome division.”


(Bacopa monnieri) 

• Perennial, tropical herb • White flowers; spring through winter • 1′-3’H by 1′-4’W • Sandy soils • Zones 8-11n Full to partial sun • High water; low maintenance • Attracts: Butterflies

Also called water hyssop, herb of grace and Indian pennywort, this plant is known for its health benefits and has been used medicinally in India for thousands of years. Small white flowers are often tinged with blue or pink. Its prostrate stems with small shiny leaves are ideal for hanging baskets or draped over the edges of pots.

Why we like it: “Brahmi is a bright, vigorously growing, highly regarded medicinal herb whose intention I can almost feel when near it, a tremendous life force,” Gutierrez says. “I’m thankful to have it in fresh supply for teas and salads and to share with others, as it roots quite easily from cuttings.”

Waterlily ‘Dauben’  

(Nymphaea ‘Dauben’) 

• Perennial, tropical hybrid • Lavender blue flowers; spring through fall • 6″-12″H by 2′-4’W • Clay, loamy soils • Zones 10-11B • Full to partial sun • High water; medium maintenance • Attracts: Bees, butterflies

Tropical waterlilies are available in a greater range of colors than hardies and tend to be larger and much showier. The yellow-centered flowers on the ‘Dauben’ range from 4 to 6 inches across and feature white petals tipped with pale blue. Its mottled pads are green with purple specks.

Why we like it: “‘Dauben’ thrives in low filtered light to full sun,” says Gutierrez. “It’s a prolific bloomer, well suited for tub gardens and is easy to grow, making it ideal for beginners and purists alike. It’s also deeply fragrant and long stemmed, making it an excellent cut flower.”


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