Plants for Waterfalls

Waterfalls add visual height, while water flowing over rocks, or other surfaces, enhances their natural beauty, colour, form and shape.

A naturally sloping landscape provides the perfect opportunity to combine a stream or waterfall with your pond. The splashing water does more than delight the eyes, it also introduces the calming melodious sounds of nature, while improving the pond health through oxygenation.

The sound of water is critical to a successful waterfall design...

As with fountains, the sound of water from a waterfall can have a very powerful influence on how we feel. Pump sizing and water flow are critical in the design of a great water feature. Understanding the purpose of the sound is an important component of the design. A soft gentle splash can be very calming, while a larger flow of water from a greater height, draws attention and can become an overwhelming disturbance. Be aware that in a smaller confined space, such as a courtyard, the sound of the water is significantly amplified. If you wish to hear the waterfall from indoors then a larger waterfall is ideal. However, if you seek a quite place to sit outside,relax and read, then a much softer sound is preferred.

Waterfall plants

Waterfall plants should not be selected and arranged in complex plantings, but should be kept simple, so that they draw attention to the water. The colours and textures of waterfall plants are the cosmetic accessories that help to finish off your water garden feature.

Formal pond waterfalls tend to be elegant gentle cascades, such as a sheets of clear water falling into the pond below. More architectural or specimen plants can be used to complement the waterfall such as Umbrella grass (Cyperus alternifolius) and Egyptian Papyrus (Cyperus papyrus), with their tall up right stems providing structure and form. Waterfall plants with upright stems can tolerate some splashing, as the droplets trickle back down into the pond. Water lilies would not be suitable if they are placed too close to the splashing water. Their floating leaves would be continuously covered in water and they would suffer, through their inability to breathe and they may also be damaged by the force of the water.

Natural styled rock waterfalls glisten with their natural colours, form and shape. Waterfall plants that cascade over the edges of rocks, such as Creeping Jenny (Lysmachia nummularia), add to the flowing appeal and soften the transition between garden and pond. Trailing plants such as the Water Milfoils (Myriophyllum species) may be used in smaller water falls to add some green life to the upper edges of waterfall. Occasional pockets of more robust waterfall plants such as the Japanese Sweet Flag (Acorus species) can also be positioned between rocks, but out of the direct water flow.

Submerged water plants are plants that grow with their leaves below the water. This very feature makes them ideal for use in the pond, near the base of waterfalls (not directly under)because they do not distract from the design of the water feature.

Their real benefits are that they

  • Assist with improving the pond health,
  • Help clarify the water,
  • Filter the nutrients and reduce algal blooms,
  • Provide shelter for fish


  1. For trailing or creeping waterfall plants go to our creeping plants page.
  2. For under water plants go to our submerged water plants page.
  3. To select taller-up right stemmed water plants for in the pond, go to our Zone Map page and check out Zones 3,4 and 5.
  4. For information on the plant care and maintenance, go to our Tips & Hints page.

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Acorus gramineus

Acorus gramineus Ogon

Acorus gramineus Variegatus

Bacopa monniera

Berula erecta

Colocasia esculenta

Colocasia esculenta Amazon Queen

Cyperus alternifolius

Cyperus papyrus

Lysimachia nummalaria

Lysimachia nummularia Aurea

Myriophyllum crispatum

Myriophyllum papillosum

Myriophyllum varifolium