Best Plants For Turtle Ponds

There are numerous advantages of adding live plants to your turtle pond. They beautify the pond, adding a natural look, your turtle will appreciate a habitat close to their natural habitat and the live plants can help to remove water waste while reducing algae growth.

There is a wide variety of plants you can add to your turtle pond, continue reading to find the best plants to consider when decorating your pet’s habitat.

1. Water Lettuce

Species Name: Pistia stratiotes.

Common Names: water lettuce, water cabbage, , Nile cabbage, shellflower.

Water lettuce is a popular plant for ponds that has hanging roots offering excellent hiding places for your pet.

The lettuce is excellent at removing ammonia and nitrogens from the water. It is also excellent at keeping algae controlled.

Water Lettuce

It’s not uncommon for turtles to nibble at the leaves of the plant, but with its moderate growth rate, this shouldn’t impact the plant too much, as they are often considered invasive in water.

If the pond is outdoors, ensure you provide your water lettuce with partial shade to reduce the risk of the leaves burning when in direct sunlight.

2. Water Hyacinth

Water hyacinth

Species Name: Eichhornia crassipes.

Common Names: Water hyacinth.

Water hyacinth is a floating plant that looks similar to water lettuce.

It is a hardy plant that can withstand most weather without a problem.

Turtles love eating this plant, offering a tasty snack in the bond.

They look beautiful when the flowers bloom, creating a visual appeal to your turtle pond.

3. Fairy Moss


Species Name: Azolla.

Common Names: mosquito fern, fairy moss, duckweed fern, water fern.

Fairy moss, Azolla, or mosquito fern is a very small floating plant that becomes a carpet over the pond during the summer months if you don’t keep it under control. It is fantastic for turtles and other aquatic pets in ponds.

4. Waterweed


Species Name: Anacharis.

Common Names: waterweed.

Waterweed is a very popular aquatic plant that requires moderate lighting.

It has very fast-growing shoots that hang across the surface. It can be a floating or rooted plant in your pond.

When rooted it needs a higher light to reach the lower leaves. When rooted, the roots can become dislodged, as they are exceptionally thin and can be at risk when you have a larger turtle.

Not to mention your turtle may enjoy the leaves, which will not harm the plant unless your turtle eats it down to nothing.

It can provide a welcome snack for turtles for an extended period, as long as it is maintained properly.

5. Carolina Fanwort

Carolina fanwort

Species Name: Cabomba caroliniana.

Common Names: Carolina fanwort, Carolina water shield, green cabomba, fanwort, Washington grass, fish grass.

The Cabomba plant, also known as Brazilian or Carolina fanwort, grows submerged with only the flowers and a few leaves sticking out of the top of the water surface.

It has grown in popularity in the United States for aquaculture and is nature to South America and the southeastern US.

The plant helps to oxygenate the water with green leathery leaves, which are in a fan shape that sits just below the surface.

6. Tape Grass

Vallisneria spiralis

Species Name: Vallisneria spiralis.

Common Names: tape grass, eel grass, straight vallisneria.

Tape grass is a perennial plant that grows submerged in brackish or freshwater. It is native to tropical and temperature waters.

This plant provides a welcome habitat for your fish and inverts while helping to filter the water. It is also a great snack for your turtle.

7. Dwarf Bulrush

Typha minima

Species Name: Typha minima.

Common Names: dwarf bulrush, least bulrush, miniature cattail.

The dwarf bulrush is ideal for smaller ponds with narrow blue-green leaves and round brown seed heads.

It grows to around 24 inches (60cm) in height and is able to survive even the lowest of temperatures.

Note that your turtle may bite the stem, but they will not feed on it.

8. Dwarf Rushes

Dwarf Rushes

Species Name: Juncus capitatus.

Common Names: dwarf rush.

Dwarf rushes are grass-like plants with emerald green leaves which are thread like in nature. It usually has small brown seed heads.

The plant can grow to fifteen centimeters (6 inches) in height and can survive low temperates.

It can get flattened by turtles and will start new growth if you need to remove it from the pond for a short period.

9. Dwarf Papyrus

Dwarf Papyrus

Species Name: Cyperus isocladus.

Common Names: Dwarf Papyrus.

This plant looks very similar to the papyrus plant used for making paper, but it is considerably smaller and suited for small ponds.

It has slim upright stems, which do not have leaves, and has green to brown tuffs on the top. It can grow up to eighteen inches (45cm).

10. Java Fern

Java Fern

Species Name: Leptochilus pteropus.

Common Names: Java fern.

Java fern is hardy, tough, and affordable, making it an ideal live plant for your turtle pond. It can grow fully or partially submerged and your turtle will not eat it, which is a great benefit.

This plant has strong roots, but you will need to attach it where you want, it will not attach itself.

Using dental floss, you can attach the roots to stones or driftwood and over time, the plant will attach. If you do not attach it, it will float about the pond.

11. Anubias spp.

Anubias spp.

Anubias is fantastic for turtle owners that do not have experience with live aquatic plants, as it is almost impossible to kill and is exceptionally versatile in how you place them in the pond, not to mention it is a beautiful plant.

They are exceptionally tough once they have been established and it’s unlikely they can become dislodged by your turtle.

They are bitter in taste, which means your turtle will probably only try and nip at it once. The plant doesn’t require any special lighting.

Note that this is a slow-growing plant and will have a new leaf every month or every couple of months.

The Anubias comes from Central and West Africa, with low lighting needs and a slow growth rate.

12. Duckweed spp.

Common duckweed

Species Name: Lemnoideae.

Common Names: duckweeds, water lentils, water lenses.

Duckweed can cover the surface of your turtle pond water within days. It enjoys light and grows exceptionally fast.

The plant thrives with turtles, enjoying the bright light and rich nutrients in the water, and is known to take light and carbon dioxide away from algae, reducing the algae growth in the pond.

It’s recommended to remove a handful or two of duckweed from the pond each week, which will remove unwanted nutrients from the water, providing a second filter.

Once established though, it can be hard to remove. A single piece of the plant left behind will grow within days.

This is a floating plant that requires high lighting with exceptionally fast growth, so ensure you really like it before you add it to your turtle pond.

13. Purple Pickerel


Species Name: Pontederia cordata.

Common Names: pickerelweed, purle pickerel.

Purple pickerel grows from underwater roots to provide long stems with heart-shaped leaves.

The plant can grow up to thirty inches (76cm) in height with purple flowers that bloom in late spring and during summer.

During winter it goes dormant but can survive freezing pond temperatures, as long as the roots remain submerged.

14. Red Ludwigia

Red Ludwigia

Species Name: Ludwigia repens.

Common Names: red ludwigia, water primrose, creeping primrose-willow.

The red ludwigia, also known as the water primrose, is a freshwater plant that is beautiful, coming from the tropical waters in Central and North America.

It can grow fully or partially submerged with spade-shaped leaves that range in color from brown/red to green.

Its vibrancy is based on how much light it gets. Colors tend to fade if the plant doesn’t get enough light.

It does well with a neutral PH level and soft water. It can handle most temperatures.

15. Parrot’s Feather

Myriophyllum aquaticum

Species Name: Myriophyllum aquaticum.

Common Names: parrot’s-feather, parrot feather watermilfoil.

Parrot’s feather is known for soaking up any pollutants and nutrients in the pond. It is also able to fix nitrogen into reusable forms for other plants while oxygenating the water.

It is exceptionally useful in restoring ecosystems but is considered invasive.

While popular in ponds throughout the US and UK, it is non-native and can be seen as invasive. Therefore, ensure it is legal to add to your turtle pond before you do so.

16. Tiger Lotus

Nymphaea lotus water-lily

Species Name: Nymphaea lotus.

Common Names: tiger lotus, white lotus, white Egyptian lotus, Egyptian white water-lily.

Tiger lotus is better known as lily pads with arrowhead-shaped leaves.

Red leaves are often seen under bright lighting. The red tiger lotus has royal purple under the leaves. The color of the leaves is based on the species of tiger lotus you have selected. There are numerous combinations of colors.

While these plants are a fantastic addition for turtle ponds, you will want to ensure that you can use them in your area, as they are considered invasive species in subtropical and tropical climates.

They need freezing temperatures to kill them over winter to reduce the risk of them overtaking the pond.

They should only be used in a pond environment due to their outstanding growth rate.

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