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Canna Lily as Pond Filters

Updated on July 1, 2013
Canna Lily "King Humbert"
Canna Lily "King Humbert"

Canna lilies are used in ponds and to some extent aquariums as natural plant filters. Cannas are hardy perennials that produce showy, widely colored blossoms. Some varieties grow taller than a person while some reach to around knee high. Canna lilies are native to many parts of the world making them a sure bet for differing climates. Very cold climates will need to lift canna tubers for winter storage.

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Biologically Filtered Pond
Biologically Filtered Pond
Closeup of "King Humbert" Canna Lily
Closeup of "King Humbert" Canna Lily

About Canna Lilies

The canna lily is a perennial semi-aquatic plant. Though this plant thrives in wet conditions, it will fare just as well in drier growing environments. A thick layer of moisture retaining mulch will keep cannas from drying out.

Cannas prefer full sun and bloom their best when exposed to several hours of sun daily. Canna colors include red, yellow, orange, pink and a mix of these colors. Foliage can be solid green, variegated, splashed white, maroon and a combination of these.

How Canna Lilies Filter:

Canna lilies remove ammonia, nitrates and other toxic substances from the water table. They do this as they feed.

Cannas also act as a physical barrier to flotsam in the water. A thick planting of canna lilies will trap debris, keeping it from entering and clouding the open areas of your pond.

Why Use Plant Filters?:

Use native species as plant filtration to prevent contaminating groundwater with harmful, synthetic chemicals. Plants grow with the biological waste load, this makes them economical choices for filtration. Plants replenish themselves through reproduction as well. There are no parts to fix or fuels to buy to keep them filtering. Using biological filtration also gives fish and other creatures a place to live, breed and hide.

The Downside of Plant Filtration:

Using plants to filter your pond has a few downsides. These issues are usually overcome with time. Plants take time to grow and establish themselves. Cannas and other aquatic plants usually grow quickly into sizable, water-cleansing pond additions.

Companion Plants for Cannas:

There are several species of aquatic plants that grow well with canna lilies. Black taro, elephant ears, creeping Jenny, creeping Charlie, water snowflake, horsetail rush, corkscrew rush, fiber optic grass, flag iris, hostas and baby's tears all make suitable companion plants for aquatic canna lilies.


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    • IsadoraPandora profile image

      Jocelyn 6 years ago from Florida, PCB

      You're welcome Meadow!! Thanks. :)

    • Meadow Kelly profile image

      Meadow Kelly 6 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Great hub, Isadora. My pond is in dire need of a few cannas & other filtering plants. Thanks for the information.

    • IsadoraPandora profile image

      Jocelyn 7 years ago from Florida, PCB


      Something I am working on this year (pray God anyway!) is raising tilapia.

      In order to filter my tilapia tank I am using duckweed and other plants. I will be investing in a solar water pump to pump water from the tilapia tank and then through the plants. Aquaponics!

      If it works like planned, we will have fresh fish and delicious plants to eat. Yum.

      Maybe you can hook up a similar system for your pond? Solar should work well there. You could use a well-disguised kiddy pool or even a livestock tank to grow the duckweed in. Then run pipes and a pump to create water flow from your pond and into the duckweed tank. Make a recirculating system.

      The duckweed is REALLY good at soaking up extra nutrients; that should starve out the algae pretty well.

      The tilapia eat plants. They are very good at eating algae and love duckweed too.

      Make sure that at least 1/3 of the ponds' surface is covered with vegetation too. Shade is a major algae killer.

      I'm not sure if you're allowed to have tilapia there or not. They don't survive our winters so were okay. I have to build them a greenhouse, LOL.

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 7 years ago from Arizona

      great article! I have made a pond after getting my well so I could beat summer evaporation. This was the first plant recommended to me for clear water solutions. I also was recommended 2 small as I could find " grass carp" fish to eat the algaen when they reached 10 to 12 inches I have to remove hem as they begin to eat the plants that I have added and killing them off. So replacing the plants and removing the big carp and taking them to town as many buy large ones for their waster tanks that are 5 to 20 times larger than my decorative pond that I sit around watching the coy fish and a few native fish caught from rivers and tanks I find (tank is western for pond) I studied on what to add to rid the algae and moss growth and end up with one small grass carp this time to see what happens while taking a look to another bottom feeder that is not so aggressive after they eat all the growth. The plants here are always just about in bloom as the weather is in the 70 degree line right now and lows in mid 30s to 45, so even on the short cold snaps that take us o 28 to 32 they seem to fair well. The co-op sells a liquid that brightens and kills the stuff I want rid of but I'm afraid it would kill the plants I put there on purpose.

      Great read and voted all up, 50