There are many wonderful uses for floating pond plants in your own pond setting. These plants can provide habitat for a wide variety of vertebrate and invertebrate animals, provide diversity and structure in your pond and be pleasing to the eye. I am defining floating plants here as both those that are not rooted and those with floating leaves that are rooted.
Unlike emergent pond plants the floating pond plants, serve a completely different and yet necessary role in your pond. First, these plants provide habitat for many different creatures. Young fish may seek shelter under the cover of floating plants. Many small invertebrates such as insect larva spend much of their lives on, in or underneath the cover of floating plants. Some species of damselflies and dragonflies require plants such as water lilies to reproduce. They lay their eggs underneath the leaves, or even in the leaf stalks themselves. Floating plants help reduce water loss through evaporation when they cover a large fraction of the water's surface. Different floating plants can also be food for waterfowl, fish and mammals such as muskrats.
Remember, when choosing a plant for your pond to practice good ethics and be a responsible steward. Don't introduce invasive species into your pond, especially if it is connected to other wetland areas! Please contact your local department of fish and wildlife for more information on invasive species in your area.
There are a variety of species to choose from, but the following are some of the best, and includes water lilies and lotus though they are not free floating, but include floating parts. The text will list some of the benefits of each species.
Whether you have a tiny backyard pond or a large farm pond, floating pond plants can bring many benefits to your water body. They will add aesthetic value, improve wildlife habitat and can even provide food for you and your family.
For additional information on pond plants, read our Plants for Ponds Article.
For more resources, check out the following links:
About the Author: Filip Tkaczyk is a periodic guest teacher at Alderleaf. He also wrote the field guide Tracks & Sign of Reptiles & Amphibians. Learn more about Filip Tkaczyk.