Edible Aquatic Plants
Gardeners enjoy aquatic plants for the ornamental beauty it brings to the water feature. Many popular aquatic plants are actually edible and can provide a thriving harvest for those who have a pond, water garden or even aquarium. It can be convenient to simply drop a plant into the pond that will be eventually added to that tasty recipe.
Please consider the aquatic environment your plants will be growing in, especially for floating or submerged edible plants. When growing edible plants in a pond there are things to consider! For example, it is best to have working system with relatively clean water. Moving water helps keep a pond oxygenated and free of unwanted bacteria, so a waterfall or bubbler works well to keep circulation in the pond. Definitely avoid placing edible plants in a tank or pond treated with chemicals not designed for consumption. If you have a snail infestation that needs to be eradicated wait on putting edibles in the water, because you definitely don’t want those in your harvest! Simply consider the pond and water you will be growing those tasty plants in.
There are many benefits of nurturing aquatic edible plants. Conserving water is much easier when plants thrive in water rather than daily watering. The water that includes the happy fins or your favorite fish benefits the water garden. Fish can provide the nutrients in aquatic substrate that is usually maintained in soil by the gardener. The fish and naturally occurring algae in a pond provide nutrients that feeds the aquatic plants. Here is a list of some of the most popular edible aquatic plants that can be placed in your backyard water feature.
Sacred Lotus- (Nelumbo nucifera)
Also known as the heavenly Lotus, this ornamental plant is popular with Koi ponds. Every part of the Lotus plant is edible. The flower is commonly used to make Lotus tea. The large leaves are used to make tea as well and other stir-fried recipes. The Lotus has been known to provide health benefits and has come to be thought of us a spiritual plant in some cultures. This beautiful plant is a must have for the aquatic garden.
A delicate plant that will float on top of the water or potted as a bog plant. When Pieces break away from the mother plant the water cress will float in the water. Though it is often potted in soil substrate, it is at times thought of as floating plant. Watercress is popular in salads and gorme dishes. The choice of fish that will accompany watercress is important because the plant can be eaten by some species of fish. Goldfish will mercilessly eat this plant!
There is a variety of Pennywort species, the most common being Asian Pennywort. Pennywort grows shoots that look like little lily pads. The stem sticks up out of the water giving an exotic look to a water feature. Some varieties of Pennywort are not edible, Asian Pennywort is the most common variety that is. This plant is a popular ornamental plant for ponds and one of the prolifically growing water plants that will thrive.
It is used in delicious Asian recipes. Pennywort is a tasty plant used in soups, salads, and the popular Pennywort drink. Pennywort requires low maintenance and will grow easily in the pond. The roots will spread in the water making it easy to transplant; Because you simply break a piece off and move to another spot and you have another Pennywort plant that will also grow prolifically. Pennywort is also known as the dollar weed and money weed.
Water Mint is an aquatic edible herb. lovely in appearance and aromatic, it can be used as a bog plant. Water Mint can be potted and put in pond. It is commonly placed in a floating basket. Aquatic mint is a popular choice for small water features.
- For those who enjoy collecting wild herbs please take caution when gathering wild aquatic plants. In wild patches of water there will not be the controlled environment of the pond or grow tank, and unfortunately parasites lay their eggs on floating plants. Be sure to wash any aquatic edibles thoroughly and cook. When washing vegetables whether terrestrial or aquatic, it is beneficial to add a dash of apple cider vinegar to the rinse water or when soaking vegetables before final rinse. I find it a sure way to enjoy vegetables without unwanted debris.
Kang Kong- (Ipomoea aquatica)
Water spinach just like it’s terrestrial counterpart can be used for recipes like broths and stir fried. It is a semi aquatic plant that will grow prolifically in moist to wet soil. Highly nutritious! Kang Kong is a leafy green used in south east Asian cuisine and is considered a delicacy in other parts of the world when stir fried with vegetables. Water spinach thrives when it is always supplied plenty of water. It is illegal in some states of the US to transport without a permit. It is commonly sold in Asian stores, but if grown at home there are restrictions because it is considered an invasive species. Be sure to check the laws of your state! Water spinach grows prolifically once planted in the moist soil of the pond. There are many varieties of Kang Kong each just as tasty as the next. Water spinach should never be planted in wild tropical ponds.
Aquatic Lebanese Cress
Lebanese Cress grows quickly and thrives in water. Simply pot cress, place in water and let grow. It is considered a semi aquatic evergreen herb. It does well in full sun or part shade. Very easy to propagate, simply break a stem off adult plant and replant in wet soil. This plant can be grown singularly in a large container of water, or added to the backyard pond. Aquatic Lebanese Cress does well in boggy soil.
Although terrestrial mint is not an aquatic herb it thrives in water. All varieties of mint will have the same result if placed in a pond. Simply transplant mint into aquatic substrate. I prefer to top off pots with small gravel. Then place pot in the pond. Be sure to place pot so water only covers up to the soil like a bog plant, so only the pot is submerged and leaves will be sticking out of the water.
- Herbs can be grown in a pond. It has been a popular craze to place herbs in plant floaters and allowed to float on surface of the pond. This is a form of aquaponics. The leafy herbs like Basil do well in a floating basket.
Other Aquatic Edible Plants:
- Pickerel Rush
- Water Lily – The flowers, young leaves, fruit, and seeds is edible.
- Arrowroot- The rhizome is edible
- Water Chestnuts
- Edible Taro – The tuber is edible, never eat raw Taro leaves because they are toxic.
Enjoy your water garden! The peaceful relaxing nature of a water feature will add a beauty to your home. With these lovely plants you may enjoy the benefits of an edible patch of leafy greens growing in the watery garden of your backyard.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.