Florida has strict laws about what aquatic plants are allowed in the state. Many aquatic plants have been labeled invasive and are not allowed in the state at all. Others are invasive and are allowed, as long as they are kept away from the natural streams, rivers, ponds and other waterways. It is critical for the environmental well being of the state that gardeners strive to plant aquatic plants that do not have invasive properties, such as these.
Papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) is also known as Egyptian papyrus and bulrushes (biblical). Papyrus is one of the most famous plants of the bible. It was also made into paper by the Ancient Egyptians by soaking strips of the white pith found in the inside of the stems in water and pounding them together. The plant has short leaves that grow around the lower part of the stem. The plant itself grows up to 10 feet tall and can spread far and wide. Feathery clusters grow in flat, round clusters at the top of stems. Papyrus grows in shallow water or a soil that is very wet and likes full sun or partial shade. Papyrus is hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11.
Horsetail (Equisetum hyemale) is also known as scouring rush. The plant is an evergreen that grows up to 3 feet tall with tiny leaves growing around the stem. It does not produce flowers or seeds, but rather reproduces by spores.
Horsetail is found growing on the shores of pons and swamps. Plant in full or filtered sun and a wet soil. The plant is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 11.
Swamp mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) is also known as swamp hibiscus and swamp rose mallow. The plant is a shrub that grows up to 7 feet tall that dies back to the ground in the winter and re-appears in the spring. Velvety leaves grow from 2 to 3 inches wide and 6 to 8 inches long. White or pink flowers with crimson red centers grow up to 6 inches across. The plant needs a moist, fertilized soil and a good mulch and performs at its best in full sun. Swamp mallow is hardy in zones 5 to 10.
American lotus (Nelumbo lutea) is also known as yellow lotus and water-chinquapin. The plant sends roots down into the pond or stream mud to a depth of 8 feet. Leaves blue green on the top and pale underneath grow to a minimum of 2 feet in diameter. In high water, the leaves will float on the top. In shallow water, they stand up above the water. Pale yellow flowers 10 inches in diameter rise above the leaves on long, stiff flower stalks.
The flowers give way to flat-topped seed pods that are a favorite addition to dried flower arrangements. Plant right in the water feature and give the plant full sun . American lotus the plant is hardy in zones 4 through 11.