En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
1 rating

Saturday - February 19, 2005

From: Canyon Lake, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Water Gardens
Title: BEST plants for keeping water clean
Answered by: Nan Hampton


We're in the process of building a small swimming pool that will utilize Texas native bog and marginal plants to clean the water for the pool. Do you know of some good resources (i.e. online, books, businesses, etc.) to consult and/purchase plants? Also what are the BEST plants for keeping water clean?


An article on natural swimming pools by Mother Earth News has a wealth of information on the subject--including building, maintaining, and selecting appropriate plants for your pool. You can also find information about water gardening on the Wildflower Center web page by selecting Explore Plants from the side bar, next select Clearinghouse Publications, then Native Plant Library. You will find a 2 page PDF file titled "Water Gardening" that you can download.

The Austin Pond Society web page has links to regional water gardening nurseries where you might find the following recommended native plants: pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata); one of the Texas arrowheads, such as duck-potato (Sagittaria latifolia); one of the Texas horsetails, such as field horsetail (Equisetum arvense); water lilies, such as American water lily (Nympaea odorata) or the yellow water lotus (Nelumbo lutea). Other possibilities are moisture-loving grasses such as bushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus) and larger plants such as marshmallow hibiscus.

You can find a list of other native plants for Texas that are aquatic or marsh plants, both large and small, by choosing Explore Plants on the side bar, then Native Plants Database. On that page choose Combination Search and select "Wet" for Soil Moisture and select "Texas" under Select State.

Another web page that may be useful for your project is that of Texas Ponds and Water Gardens.

More Water Gardens Questions

Wildflowers for a pond in MO
September 10, 2011 - I have a spring fed pond in Missouri and would like to plant perennial wildflowers in the area around it. Are there any that would do better or others that are not recommended? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Planting instructions for horsetail
March 10, 2009 - Re: Equisetum hyemale L. Canuela, Horsetail, Scouring rush, Scouringrush horsetail I bought a 1-gal Equisetum hyemale for my seep/pond. In searching the web, I find conflicting planting instructions...
view the full question and answer

Planting times for aquatic plants from Winston Salem NC
July 12, 2012 - I need to know the correct time of year to plant the following pond plants Swamp Rose Mallow, Southern Blue Iris, Soft Rush, American Bur-reed, American lotus, Woolgrass and Duck Potato Is it better...
view the full question and answer

Looking for grasses for slope around retention pond in Florida
August 02, 2011 - I live in St. Petersburg, FL on a large retention pond. Most of my neighbors on the pond have seawalls. I do not nor do my neighbors to my left and right. I am interested in colorful grasses to put...
view the full question and answer

Request to use images from Image Gallery
February 04, 2009 - The Nueces River Authority is publishing a riparian plant guide and we would like permission to use one or more of your plant photos. Can you direct me to a person or process for this. Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center