Why You Need Pickerel Weed in Your Water Garden

You might give that headline a second look and wonder why in the world you need a weed in your pond! But truth be told, pickerel weed is actually a graceful and beautiful plant with showy flower spikes growing atop slender, sturdy stems that add visual interest in the water garden. It’s super easy to grow and is available in bluish-purple, pink, and white blooms.

Pontedaria cordata, also known as pickerel rush or pickerel weed, enjoys full sun to part shade and requires very little care. Its glossy, 10-inch, arrow-shaped leaves are just as appealing as its blooms and you’ll often find fish taking cover beneath its greenery.

Blooming Purple Pickerel Weed


Pickerel weed does more than add color and beauty to a pond. Its sweet nectar attracts butterflies and bees – and dragonflies and damselflies often lay their eggs on the plant stems near the water. When the flowers fade, they give way to starchy seeds which are edible. Consider drying them and adding them to your next batch of homemade granola. Young leaves from the plant can also be consumed and make an interesting addition to summer salads.

Since pickerel tends to spread rapidly, it’s best to plant it in an aquatic pot where you can better control its aggressive growth habit. The plant can reach up to three feet in height and makes a beautiful, architectural backdrop along the edges of the pond. Consider placing shorter pond plants in front, like marsh marigold. You’ll rarely need to perform any type of maintenance on a pickerel plant, but you can cut back faded flowers or leaf stems that get bent and flop into the water.

Plant pickerel along the margins of a pond, in a bog, or add it to a rain garden in a sunny location in early spring. Place your young pickerel in a fabric aquatic planter and add fertilizer according to directions. Fill the pot with pond potting media  and add a shallow layer of gravel on top to keep the potting media from floating out into your pond. Then set the plant near the edge of your pond in about three to five inches of water. As long as the pickerel gets partial to full sun and doesn’t dry out, you’ll enjoy its pretty blooms from June through October. Pickerel weed is hardy in zones 3 to 10.


Blooming Purple Pickerel Weed

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