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Aquatic plants for ponds or smaller pools in the Southeast US zones 7 or 8

 
gardener
Posts: 1962
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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I've been looking into which aquatic plants could do well and be beneficial for ponds or small pools in the Southeast US in zones 7 or 8.

I'd prefer to collect local native varieties, both for being already well adapted to my area and being free. They would mainly be used as habitat for small fish and other wildlife, and to help oxygenate and clean the water.

I've always thought lillies looked really cool and have nice flowers for ornamental purposes. It seems like I've heard cattails seem to show up a lot of the time on their own, has that been the case for others?

Which aquatic plants would you recommend!?
 
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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From my own experience, I strongly advise against introducing Cattails into any pond where you don't want them to dominate.  Initially I included them in my small frog pond and they completely covered it very quickly and were quite difficult to remove.  Duck Potato is also aggressive though not as large.  Watercress is well-behaved.  Chinese Water Chestnut so far for me has not been too aggressive.

 
Steve Thorn
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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Thought I would put some pictures of some of the plants mentioned to give a visual. I'm sure most people know what a waterlily looks like, but the waterlily's flowers look so nice I just couldn't resist.



https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nymphaea_odorata

Nymphaea odorata, also known as the American white waterlily and fragrant water-lily

A beautiful and fragrant plant and flower.

I found this really interesting from the wikipedia article link above...

The fragrant water-lily has both medicinal and edible parts. The seeds, leaves, flowers and rhizomes can all be eaten.



Staff note (Leigh Tate) :

For some reason, the above link no longer works. This one does, however, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nymphaea_odorata

 
gardener
Posts: 900
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7B/8A
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I like the water lilies in my pond, they give my gold fish somewhere to hide from that mean old heron that comes by in the summer.

 
pollinator
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Bacopa is a popular aquarium plant that grows wild in the southeast, and has herbal uses. I just went through a search for aquatic plants for a small fish pond as well, and that was one that I used. I drilled holes in large bamboo culms and stuffed the roots into them and sunk them to the bottom. Sweet potato also makes a surprisingly good pond plant.
 
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if you want some stuff thats hardy and good to eat heres whats on my list. (im in zone 5 but it al should grow in zone 8 )

Sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) is beautiful and its large nut like seeds tastes delicious
Yellow lily (Nuphar lutea) all parts are edible, and the seeds pop like popcorn!
Watercress, a european delicacy, good for soups and salads
Pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata) has edible leaves but most importantly edible starchy seeds that can be eaten like sunflower seed or made into flour, and is safe to eat cooked or raw.
water celery (Oenanthe javanica) is an ornamental (pink varieties exist) water plant that tastes strongly of celery, good for soups etc.
watermeal (Wolffia spp.) is a duckweed type floating plant used as a veg in tropical asia but is hardy. its 20 percent protein, higher than soy.

all of these besides the watermeal and watercress are also highly ornamental, so you can have a beautiful pond and eat it too!
 
pollinator
Posts: 384
Location: Athens, GA Zone 8a
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I really like azolla because it multiplies so rapidly and is a good fish food (and the chickens love it). It's also supposed to be a superfood, but I haven't tried to eat any of it yet: https://www.treehugger.com/green-food/experimental-recipes-with-azolla-super-plant-and-future-space-food.html

The ~500-gallon pond that came with our rental is not well designed for planting; it's basically a deep hole in the ground with no shelves on the sides. Two summers ago I had it loaded up with water lettuce (from one tiny Lowe's plant!) that the frogs just loved. They could hang out in the water with their heads popped up, looking around, and I just loved it. Then I didn't start any this year and the frogs disappeared. Green Deane says it's a famine food, edible if cooked: http://www.eattheweeds.com/water-lettuce/ We are cautioned here about not letting it escape into the waterways.

I also planted water celery at the pond edges, and it's taking over. It even outcompetes the water mint. At first I regretted planting it because it's so invasive, but the chickens adore it (almost as much as garlic chives, which they beg for), so I grab a few fists full of it on the way to the coop each morning. We've had a mild winter, so it's been putting out the greenery. I wouldn't dare use it for chop-and-drop, though. It roots very easily and spreads everywhere. It's pretty, though.

 
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Bacopa is an pond edge species.  Pennywort (aka dollarweed) make great salad greens and is good for fermenting.  It will grow in shallow water but is a bit invasive.  Arrowhead, Wapato and Duck Potato (Sagittaria spp) have tubers which were a staple of Native Americans.  Got to dig for them under water though.

Chinese water chestnut is a non-native, highly invasive aquatic plant.  Thanks for keeping it native (and what is "native" is a topic for another day).
 
gardener
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Location: Longbranch, WA
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Because mine dry down by the end of summer I am experimenting with wild rice and other rice verities. Looking for a rice that will sprout at 40 degrees Ferenhight Or keep growing if sprouted warmer then planted. I don't want to be transplanting if I don't have to.
 
Thomas Adams
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Hans Quistorff wrote:Because mine dry down by the end of summer I am experimenting with wild rice and other rice verities. Looking for a rice that will sprout at 40 degrees Ferenhight Or keep growing if sprouted warmer then planted. I don't want to be transplanting if I don't have to.



Zizania palustris might grow in Washington since it in found in Idaho and east into Canada.  Maybe a little warmer in WA so that may prompt early sprout and bolting.
 
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Location: South Florida
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With all that's going on, it's inspired me to ramp my ediibles.

I read in "Perennial Vegetables" that Oenanthe javanica (water celery) is edible, so I bought some on line.

This stuff is NASTY, at least raw; I haven't tried to cook it. It tastes bitter, and a bit like turpentine. YUCK.

I'm pretty disappointed, because I'd thought to get an edible (small) water garden going (also bought Bacopa monneiri and Neptunia oleracea), but really none of them is particularly
tasty.

We'll see. My container is only a small one, so I don't really want to devote space to bad-tasting plants!
 
Diane Kistner
pollinator
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Cara Campbell wrote:With all that's going on, it's inspired me to ramp my ediibles.

I read in "Perennial Vegetables" that Oenanthe javanica (water celery) is edible, so I bought some on line.

This stuff is NASTY, at least raw; I haven't tried to cook it. It tastes bitter, and a bit like turpentine. YUCK.

I'm pretty disappointed, because I'd thought to get an edible (small) water garden going (also bought Bacopa monneiri and Neptunia oleracea), but really none of them is particularly
tasty.

We'll see. My container is only a small one, so I don't really want to devote space to bad-tasting plants!



One thing I'll say about water celery, it's unstoppable. I had some in my pond that didn't make it in the pond, but it's now madly spreading out in the moist soil around the pond. it's even outcompeting the water mint. I was going to try to eradicate it, but my chickens absolutely LOVE the stuff. It may not be the best thing for the flavor of their eggs, but every morning on my way out to their coop I yank up a bunch of it and scatter it around in their paddock for them. They go ape for it. So I'm not sorry I've got it. Famine food for chickens? Check.

I haven't tried cooking with it. But I made note of Stephen Harrod Buhner's remark that he's mindful of the value of invasives. Your post reminded me that I want to do some research on its medicinal value.

 
Hans Quistorff
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Diane Kistner wrote:
One thing I'll say about water celery, it's unstoppable. I had some in my pond that didn't make it in the pond, but it's now madly spreading out in the moist soil around the pond. it's even outcompeting the water mint. I was going to try to eradicate it, but my chickens absolutely LOVE the stuff. It may not be the best thing for the flavor of their eggs, but every morning on my way out to their coop I yank up a bunch of it and scatter it around in their paddock for them. They go ape for it. So I'm not sorry I've got it. Famine food for chickens? Check.

I haven't tried cooking with it. But I made note of Stephen Harrod Buhner's remark that he's mindful of the value of invasives. Your post reminded me that I want to do some research on its medicinal value.


Matches my observation. Chickens need sulfur for the yolk of their eggs therefore crave plants that extract sulfur and put it into organic compounds. The standard American diet tends to be lacking in these compounds so many peoples taste is not trained to accept them even though they are considered important in avoiding cancer.
Which brings up a good point from a permaculture viewpoint, many pond plants such as duck weed that are considered a problem are actually a solution for feeding animals.
 
pollinator
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Ref: "Famine food for chickens? Check."

My dad used to feed water hyacins and springweed to the pigs. They prefered it to week old white bread!
 
Diane Kistner
pollinator
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Water hyacinths! Yeah, those are taking over the waterways here. I'd grow them myself, but the dogs love them so much they dive into the pond and eat them....

 
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