Make your own container wetland

Published on February 1st 2020
A purple flower and green grass
World Wetland Day is celebrated annually on the 2nd February and we at think that a beautiful way to support and celebrate these habitats is by creating container wetland gardens to add as a design element to your garden. Many water-loving plants are also edible, so be sure to include some of the edible varieties in your wetland masterpiece. This will be something different to your usual herb garden edibles.
A close up of a flower pot
A wetland is found where the land is wet enough (saturated or flooded) for long enough to be unfavourable to most plants but are favourable to plants adapted to anaerobic soil conditions. It is important that we understand and protect the incredible biodiversity of these beautiful and vital South African habitats. Not only do wetland ecosystems support a host of animal and plant life - but they are critically important for the survival of humans too, from the modification of climate change to the protection of human settlements from floods. If we protect wetlands, we also protect our planet and ourselves.
Here is an easy step by step tutorial on making a container water garden that is simple and inexpensive.

What you will need:

  • Container that holds water
  • Water Plants (don’t forget your edible varieties)
  • Rocks or Bricks
  • And of course - water!
A close up of a flower pot

Choosing a Container

When choosing a container for your water garden, keep in mind that technically, anything that holds water will work. Make sure however that it is not porous. Choose a container large enough to comfortably hold at least three or four water plants. A 60 cm wide container will be a perfect start. We chose a beautiful, stylish powder blue glazed pot.

Choosing Plants

When choosing water plants for your container, keep in mind to choose based on the size of your container. Huge plants in a tiny container will just look like a wet jungle and too many tiny plants in a large container will just look like clutter.
Choose your types of plants much the same way you would design a regular garden bed. Use different shapes and textures of plants to add contrast, and to set each plant apart. We suggest using at least three. First a tall spiky plant, then a broader leaved plant, and finally, a floating option such as water hyacinths, or even a single water lily. We chose:
  • Japanese water (Iris ensata)
  • Chinese Chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis). These water Chestnuts add a new dimension of crunch to stir-fries and Asian cooking – your foodie friends will adore you.
  • Edible Mint (Mentha aquatica), which has a strong distinctive peppermint-like fragrance and is used as a flavouring in salads or cooked foods.
  • Bacopa monierii, is a creeping herb with pretty white flowers which can be used as a medicinal tea to improve memory, reduce anxiety, and to treat epilepsy.
A green plant in a garden

Arranging Your Water Garden

Arranging the plants in your water garden is easier than planting a garden bed. If you don’t like the arrangement, you just pick them up and move them, because you never remove the water plants from the nursery pot.
Fill your container half full with water, then start setting in plants. Use rocks or bricks to raise up the height of any plant that needs to be more of a focal point. Most water plants do just fine with the tops of their pots about 15 - 20cm under water, so don’t worry about having to have them all at the same water level.
A plant in a pot
Place your tallest plant in the back, or in the centre, if the garden will be viewed from all angles.
Then add your smaller plants until you like the composition. Fill the container the rest of the way with water, then add your floating plants last.
A close up of a plant

Displaying your container water gardens

Place your water garden where it gets at least 6 hours of sun every day. Make sure the water level is topped up regularly. If the roots are exposed for any length of time, you will likely damage, if not lose the plant. We suggest you overflow the top of the container with water every couple of days, just to make sure no mosquitoes are using your new garden as a breeding ground.
Enjoy making your own container water garden! Water is a restful element to add to any garden, and can attract birds, frogs and butterflies as well. Not to mention, water plants themselves are beautiful, and can be fragrant in addition to being low maintenance.
A vase with a purple flower on a plant
Sadly, 50% of the world’s wetlands have been destroyed. Without suitable wetland habitat, many species could soon be homeless. Here are 11 reasons why you should care about wetlands:
1. Wetlands purify our water
2. Wetlands store our water to ensure supply during dry periods
3. Wetlands can prevent floods
4. Wetlands recharge groundwater
5. Wetlands help to control erosion
6. Wetlands provide shelter for juvenile fish
7. Wetlands provide homes for animals and plants
8. Wetlands provide food for livestock
9. Wetlands protect biodiversity
10. Wetlands provide locations for recreation
11. Wetlands provide plants that can be used for houses and crafts
A purple flower on a plant
You can purchase some of your supplies needed for this project, as well as get helpful advice from your local GCA Garden Centre.
For more gardening tips and information, visit or join the conversation on our Facebook page:
Free download for your phone or tablet
Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

What is Candide?

Candide has everything for plant lovers – buy plants from independent sellers and book tickets to visit inspiring gardens near you. Identify plants in seconds from a single photo and learn how to care for them with our in-depth guides.


Learn how to care for your plants and share your growing successes on Candide’s free app for your phone or tablet.

Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Germinated in Bristol © 2021 Candide