How to Make a Container Water Garden

To grace an outdoor setting, a table or even an office, create a pond-in-a-pot with these simple step-by-step instructions.
Small Container Water Garden

Small Container Water Garden

By: Jill Slater

Materials Needed:

  • one 5-inch decorative container, with drain hole
  • 6-inch plumbae taro (Colocasia alocasia plumbae)
  • 6-inch creeping jenny (Lysimachia nummularia)
  • 4-inch ribbon grass/variegated (Phalaris arundinacea picta)
  • 4-inch Houttuynia cordata 'Chameleon'
  • 1 water hyacinth (floater)
  • 12 to 14 medium (fist-sized) rocks
  • 1 handful of parrot's feather (Myriophyllum aquatica) (use parrot's feather cuttings, not the potted water plant)
  • 1 two- or four-inch empty clay pots


Pond pots get heavy with water, so assemble the pond pot in its permanent location.

1. Clean pond pot by rinsing it out with water.

2. Set the green taro in its original container in the bottom center of the pond pot.

3. Fill pond pot 1/3 full with rocks.

4. Fill the pot half full with water.

5. Place the ribbon grass plant, still in its container, into the small decorative pot, and place that decorative container near the back of the container.

6. Place an inverted clay pot on top of rocks in the front of the pond pot. Now set the Houttuynia cordata on top of the inverted pot (keep the plant in its original container). Do the same for the Lismachia, placing the inverted pot and plant on the right side of the pond pot.

7. Bring water level to the top of the container.

8. Place floating plants (water hyacinth and parrot's feather) on the surface of the water.

Note: Check the water level in the pond pot daily, filling it when necessary. In the fall, when temperatures go down to 55 degrees, bring your water garden indoors for the winter.

Suggested Plants

Green taro (Plumbae taro)
Bog plant grows in water up to 6" deep. Leaves and stems are evergreen in mild climates. Grows 3 to 5 feet tall. Tolerates shade or filtered morning sun. Zones 9 to 11.

Ribbon grass/variegated (Phalaris arundinacea)
Grass plant with white horizontal stripes. Grows 2 to 3 feet tall and can tolerate drought. Grows in sun to part shade. Zones 4 to 11.

Houttuynia cordata 'Chameleon'
Dramatic foliage of red, cream, pink and green. Perennial bog plant that grows to 12 inches. Enjoys part shade. Zones 5 to 11.

Creeping jenny (Lysimachia nummularia)
Enjoys shallow water conditions and tolerates bright indirect light or partial shade. Zones 4 to 10.

Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)
Floating leaf aquatic with interesting leaf forms. Grows in sun to part shade. Zones 9 to 11.

Parrot's feather (Myriophyllum aquatica)
Generally grows at the edges of water features. Float cuttings on top of the water or set potted water plant in the water garden. Grows 3 to 6 inches tall; can be placed in full sun or shade; aggressive. Zones 6 to 11.

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