British Pond Plants

Updated July 20, 2017

Native British pond plants include types that grow at the edge of ponds and some that grow directly in the water. Like the United States, Britain suffers the effects of invasive foreign pond plants that have escaped gardens and grow in canals, rivers and lakes to the detriment of native plants and wildlife. Gardeners should take care to choose pond plants indigenous to their country and region.


Arrowhead, (Sagittaria sagittifolia), a deciduous plant, is native to England and some European and Asian countries. Its name comes from the distinctive arrow-shaped, green leaves, which appear above the water line. Natural England notes that Arrowhead, which favours a spot with full sun, flowers from June to September producing blooms with white petals and purple centres. The blooms open in the afternoon and attract dragonflies, damselflies and hoverflies. The plant also provides a habitat for some species of leaf beetle. Arrowhead is a vigorous grower so a large pond provides the best environment for it.

Yellow Flag Iris

The yellow flag iris, (Iris pseudacorus), grows up to 5 feet tall. According to Conservation Volunteers Northern Ireland, from May to July, the plant produces distinctive yellow blooms up to 4 inches across, set above long, narrow green leaves. Yellow flag iris is indigenous to all parts of Britain, except the Scottish Highlands. In the garden, it grows in damp conditions at pond borders and can be invasive. To prevent yellow flag iris spreading out of bounds, gardeners can remove it by hand. Alternative common names for the plant include segg and Jacob's sword. Yellow flag iris, which grows in full sun or partial shade, attracts nectar-feeding insects.

Spiked Water-milfoil

Spiked water-milfoil, (Myriophyllum spicatum), occurs naturally across Britain in still or slow flowing open water. Natural England warns that British gardeners should buy spiked water-milfoil from a reputable dealer, as the closely-related parrot's feather is an invasive alien from South America that causes serious problems for native species in the wild. In the garden pond, spiked water-milfoil acts as an oxygenator, keeping the water clean, and acts as a food source for underwater insects and other invertebrates. Most of the plant grows underwater, but emerging stalks produce stems with small red blooms in June and July. Spiked water-milfoil offers cover for tadpoles, frogs and other amphibians.

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About the Author

Ken Macdonald lives in London and has been a freelance editor and writer since 1999. He has written on topics including travel, food and gardening for UKTV, Expedia and “The Guardian” website. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English studies from Stirling University in Scotland.