10 Stunning Tropical Pond Plants

Tropical pond plants are not just for the tropics, they can be grown in most areas, as long as they’re overwintered properly.

Tropical plants are perfect for adding color and interest to your water garden, creating an exotic look that is sure to make your pond a focal point in your yard.

In this article I’ll discuss 10 of the most popular tropical plants for ponds and share some tips to keep them healthy and thriving all year round.

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a beautiful pond surrounded by tropical pond plants


1. Water lilies (Nymphaeaceae)

Tropical water lilies are one of the most popular pond plants and they come in a range of vibrant colors like bright blue, pink and purple.

Their large flowers rise a few inches above the water’s surface, unlike most of the hardy water lily varieties that float on the surface of the pond. 

Water lilies are ideal for providing shade and sheltering fish from predators.

pond plant care

2. Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)

Lotuses are beautiful pond plants that require similar conditions to tropical water lilies.

The flowers can be pink or white and the leaves, roots and seeds are all edible.

Lotus flowers grow best in warm climates in a position with full sun. Plant them in a shallow pot and place the pot underwater in the pond.

lotus flower

3. Canna lilies (Canna indica)

Canna lilies grow from underground rhizomes and they’re ideal to plant around the edge of your pond.

The flowers can be orange, red or yellow and you can also find some varieties with colorful or variegated foliage for added interest.

In cool climates canna lilies can be grown as annuals and replaced each year or they can be overwintered indoors and planted outside once the weather warms up.

canna lily flower

4. Sensitive Plant (Neptunia oleracea)

Sensitive plant is a tropical, floating pond plant with green, fern-like leaves that curl up when you touch them.

They’re easy to care for and produce small, yellow flowers during summer.

Be sure to plant sensitive plants away from any splashing water features in your pond, otherwise the leaves will stay curled up.

sensitive plant

5. Umbrella Palm (Cyperus alternifolius)

Umbrella palms are slow-growing, tropical plants with attractive foliage.

The leaves form an umbrella shape and they grow well in shallow water around the edge of the pond.

Umbrella palms can grow up to 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 metres) tall but you can also find dwarf or medium sized varieties if you have a small pond.

umbrella palm pond plant

6. Taro (Colocasia esculenta)

Taro, also called Elephant Ears, is a tropical plant that is grown as a root crop in warm, humid climates, but it’s also an attractive pond plant.

Taro can be planted around the edge of a garden pond or water feature, but you’ll need to ensure that the leaves are above the surface of the water.

You can grow taro plants in cooler climates but you’ll need to move them indoors when the temperature starts to cool down.

taro plants

7. Water Hyacinths (Eichhornia crassipes)

Water hyacinth is another popular tropical pond plant with beautiful purple flowers and green foliage that floats on top of the pond.

They thrive in hot, humid weather and spread out very fast, so you’ll have to trim them back regularly to stop them covering the entire surface of the pond.

Water hyacinths bloom from late summer to early fall and the flowers grow 6 inches (15 cm) tall.

water hyacinth

8. Azolla (Azolla filiculoides)

Azolla, also known as mosquito fern, is a tropical floating pond plant that looks like a carpet on the surface of the water.

It’s an excellent oxygenator for the pond water and provides food for fish, so it’s ideal to grow in fish ponds.

Azolla can block sunlight from reaching the bottom of the pond if it’s allowed to cover the entire surface, so you need to monitor it closely and trim it back regularly.

pond plants

9. Water Hawthorn (Aponogeton distachyos)

Water hawthorn, also known as Cape asparagus, Cape hawthorn and Cape pond weed, is a perennial, aquatic plant that blooms throughout the winter months in warm climates.

The leaves are oval shaped and the flowers are white with brown speckles and vanilla scented.

Water hawthorns thrive in full sun but they go dormant during summer and come back in fall when the temperature is cooler.

water hawthorn flower

10. Tropical pitcher plants (Nepenthes)

Pitcher plants are carnivorous plants that are best suited to humid, tropical areas.

They trap a variety of different insects and small lizards using a pouch of sticky sap. [1]

Pitcher plants are ideal to grow around the edge of your pond because they thrive in moist, muddy soil.

It doesn’t matter if the soil is poor quality because they get most of their nutrients from the insects and other creatures after they’ve been digested.

pitcher plants in full sun

Caring for tropical pond plants

Tropical pond plants originate from subtropical or tropical regions, so they grow best in warm temperatures, but they will also do well in cooler climates, as long as they are protected from the cold.

They grow best in temperatures above 70 °F (21 °C), and they need full sun for at least 5 to 6 hours each day.

Sudden changes or fluctuations in temperatures, especially cold nights can slow down or stop the plants flowering.

To keep your tropical pond plants healthy, fertilize them on a regular basis using a fertilizer specifically designed for aquatic plants.

I like to use slow-release fertilizer tablets that are specially formulated for pond plants.

It’s also a good idea to ensure that your pond has adequate aeration to prevent the water from becoming stagnant.

You can easily aerate your pond using a bubbler, fountain or waterfall, which will help to keep the water well oxygenized.

a beautiful fish pond with a waterfall

Overwintering tropical pond plants

Tropical pond plants can be moved indoors during the cooler months and kept in a warm indoor environment, such as a greenhouse or sunroom.

If you don’t have the space to store the plants indoors, you can cut the leaves back and submerge the pot in a deep section of the pond, where the water is unlikely to freeze over winter.

The other option is to grow tropical aquatic plants as annuals, replacing them each year, although this can be quite costly.

a garden pond landscaped with tropical aquatic plants


So there are 10 stunning tropical plants to grow in your garden pond.

With proper care and maintenance, tropical plants can thrive for many years in your backyard pond, even if you don’t live in the tropics.

Have you had any success growing any of these beautiful pond plants? Let me know in the comments below.

Are you on Pinterest? I have boards dedicated to Garden Ponds and Pond Plants that you may find helpful.

tropical pond plants

Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin, a landscape gardener with a special interest in ponds and water gardens. For over a decade, I've been designing and creating beautiful gardens that feature stunning water features, from small garden ponds to large water gardens. Read more

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