Plants to plant around a pond

Written by john lindell
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Plants to plant around a pond
Swamp milkweed attracts butterflies and is a good choice for planting near ponds. (Monarch butterfly on a milkweed plant image by Terry Reimink from

Property owners with a pond on their land have different options as to what to plant near it. Species that do well in wet soil come in the form of perennials, shrubs and trees. Some landscapers opt to use a pond as a sort of mirror to reflect the beauty of a tree or shrub's foliage and flowers, while other, smaller plants grow in large numbers, colonising the edges of a pond.

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Though it is an annual plant, jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) produces enough seeds to from colonies around a pond every year. Jewelweed grows as high as 5 feet, with a native range that includes many of the northern states in the East. Jewelweed flowers during the summer and blooms continuously. The flowers look like tiny cornucopias, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden; they are orange-yellow and covered with brownish spots. Shady spots next to a pond are ideal for jewelweed. The plant gets its name from

dewdrops collecting on its foliage.

Sweetbay Magnolia

The sweetbay magnolia tree (Magnolia virginiana) grows to 30 feet in northern parts of its range, but is taller in the southern states, attaining heights of 60 feet. Sweetbay works well next to a pond because of its propensity to grow in wet soils. The tree is evergreen in the warmer climates, but loses its 5-inch-long leaves in colder conditions. Sweetbay magnolia has features that qualify it as a fine specimen plant, including creamy-white June flowers that exude a lemony aroma. One cultivar, called Moonglow, grows to 35 feet tall and turns out brilliant red seeds in autumn.

Winterberry Winter Gold

By planting a single male winterberry shrub (Ilex verticillata) next to your pond, you provide a source of pollination for as many as 10 of the female plants. One cultivar in particular has a reputation for producing copious amounts of the berries this shrub turns out in autumn. 'Winter Gold' is a female cultivar of winterberry that grows to 8 feet, with its orange-yellow fruits lasting well into winter, giving the plant abundant appeal in the cold months. ''Winter Gold has many stems and its root system suckers, creating new viable growth around the shrub.

Swamp Milkweed

Pond edges that receive full sun are suitable for the swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), a perennial plant capable of attracting butterflies when in bloom. Swamp milkweed is easy to grow in wet soils, but also takes hold in soils with average moisture content. Swamp milkweed grows to between 4 and 5 feet and blooms in July and August, when most butterflies are active. Swamp milkweed's flowers emerge pink or mauve, developing at the end of stems in clusters known as umbels. The monarch butterfly, a renowned species, uses swamp milkweed as a food source when in larval form.

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