Central Florida is a unique region that extends 300 miles south from the mainland, with a variety of ecological habitats that support many species of native plants. When selecting plants for ponds with fluctuating water levels, it is important to choose species that can thrive in both wet and dry conditions. This article provides an overview of the best native plants for Central Florida ponds, including their characteristics and benefits. The American lotus (Nelumbo lutea) is a submerged or free-floating plant found in the muddy, shallow waters of Florida up to six feet deep.
It is an excellent native host for the caterpillar of the black swallowtail butterfly, providing nectar and attracting pollinators. The Florida maple (Acer floridanum) is a smaller version of the northern sugar maple that is better suited to Florida because it is heat tolerant. The yellow pond lily (Nuphar lutea subsp. Advena) and yellow water lily (Nymphaea mexicana) are two other native plants that are suitable for Central Florida ponds. The fragrant water lily (Nymphaea odorata) is also a great choice, as it has white flowers that provide food for the caterpillar of the black swallowtail butterfly.
The aquatic cowboy (Tiedemannia filiformis, formerly Oxypolis filiformis) is an emerging member of the carrot family Apiaceae that blooms in late summer or early fall and can reach 2 to 3 feet in height. Alfalfa (Pontederia spp.) is another emerging plant that is more tolerant to falls (exposed pond soil). The availability of light is the most important factor in plant growth and is mainly determined by the clarity and depth of the water. To prevent blocking the view of the water, low-growing plants should be located at the top of the slope and taller plants at the bottom. Five species of passionflower are native to Florida, including the popular and extremely striking purple passion flower (Passiflora incarnata). Landscaping with native plants supports the local ecosystem and prevents the spread of invasive non-native species.
When planting these species, it would be wise to keep them in a pot without drainage holes before placing them in the pond in a house garden. Central Florida offers an incredible variety of native plants for ponds, each with its own unique characteristics and benefits. This article provides an overview of some of the best native plants for Central Florida ponds.