Pond Plants 9: Creeping Marginals
by Mandy Anders
Marginal plants encompass a diverse group of pond, bog, and moisture loving species. Marginal plants usually grow well in very shallow water, with some species thriving in up to 6-8 inches of water, to other species doing best with just their roots wet. This article addresses marginal plants that grow in a low, creeping or spreading fashion. These marginal plants will usually grow best with water no deeper than the top of the planting container. Some of these varieties, like blue moneywort, also have emerged, or underwater forms. This means that foliage may extend under the water’s surface and continue growing. Usually the submerged foliage and the above water foliage are slightly different in appearance.
Creeping marginals have several different growth habits in the water garden. They can grow potted in smaller, Laguna pond plant mesh baskets or pond planting bags on shallow shelves at the pond edge. When planted in this fashion, use either Hoffman’s Water Garden Soil with poly-padding to line the sides of the mesh basket, or Microbe-Lift Aquatic Planting Media. Add fertilizer tablets when planting and once a month to encourage growth.
Creeping marginals also make excellent bog plants. They can grow even in the shallowest areas of the bog. Remember to prune and harvest bog plants as they grow since these plants are constantly utilizing nitrates and phosphates from the pond. Harvesting sections of the plants permanently removes the absorbed nitrates and phosphates from the pond water, helping to combat algae. As the bog plants grow and spread, they will pull even more phosphates and nitrates from the water. Creeping marginal plants will also grow planted in cracks and crevasses of streambeds and in beach drainage areas of the pond (see Solution 2a. Edging at for more ideas on pond edging).
These plants are also excellent choices for floating ring island planters and for Laguna floating plant bags. These floating planters give pond owners options for adding vegetation to deeper ponds or for smaller tubs. Use the same potting method as Laguna pond planting bags for the floating plant bags. For the floating ring planters, simply place the potted plant in the ring.
Some hardy creeping marginal plants normally available at Aquarium during pond season include:
– Jenny and Golden Creeping Jenny: (Lysimachia nummularia and L. nummularia "aurea") Creeping jenny’s emersed form will grow in up to 6" of water. It does well in full sun to partial shade. The plant has bright green (yellow-green for the golden variety) circular leaves and small, yellow flowers. It will creep over rocks and trail down into the water.
- – Red Rotalla: (Rotalla indica) Rotalla’s emersed foliage grows similarly to creeping jenny, and possesses similar light requirements. It has tiny, round, green leaves with a profusion of diminuative pink flower spikes.
- – Pennywort: (Hydrocotyle vertibulatta) Pennywort possesses shiny, round foliage and grows like creeping jenny. It is excellent for streams and swift moving water.
- – Blue Moneywort: (Lindernia grandiflora) A native to the South, moneywort’s foliage is tiny, green, and heart-shaped. The purple-blue flowers bloom constantly through spring and summer. Moneywort will grow in full sun to light shade.
- – Red Ludwigia: (Ludwigia repens) Ludwigia has shiny, pointed reddish leaves. It’s submerged form is often sold as an oxygentating plant.
- – Water Mint: (Mentha aquatica) Fuzzy, dark green leaves grow from the squarish stems of this plant. Water mint leaves exude a heady mint smell when bruised. This is a VERY fast growing plant that is incredibly hardy.
- – Four-leaf water Clover: Marsilea quadrifolia, actually an aquatic fern, this plant is excellent for bogs. Four-leaf clover will grow in up to 8 inches of water and is hardy in East Tennessee. It can withstand shade, but prefers full sun to partial shade.
For more information about pond plants and potting visit our Pond Solutions section.