Planting a Bog Filter

Planting a Bog Filter? You don’t have to limit yourself to the plants listed below; these are just guidelines. Experiment and have fun! We’ve grown everything from cacti (yes, cactus!) to annuals to vegetables in our bogs! Most plants seem to like growing in a bog!

In the comments below, tell us what bog filtration system sounds interesting!

Suggested Plants:

  • Arrowhead

    The headwaters of this stream function as the filter for this pond.

    The headwaters of this stream function as the filter for this pond. (Click image to expand)

  • Assorted Taros
  • Blue Carex
  • Blue Rush
  • Bog Lily
  • Canna
  • Chinese Water Chestnut
  • Corkscrew Rush
  • Creeping Jenny
  • Dwarf Horsetail
  • Dwarf Papyrus
  • Dwarf Sweetflag
  • Japanese Iris
  • Lizard’s Tail
  • Louisiana Iris
  • Melon Sword
  • Red Stemmed Sagittaria
  • Ribbon Grass
  • Ruby Creeper
  • Ruby Eye Arrowhead
  • Sensitive Plant
  • Siberian Iris
  • Spider Lily
  • Star Grass
  • Variegated Spider Lily
  • Variegated Water Celery

Plants that are invasive in a bog:

  • All Cattails
  • Aquatic Mint
  • Chameleon Plant
  • Chocolate Mint
  • Gold Rush Reed
  • Horsetail
  • Mediterranean Reed
  • Parrot’s Feather
  • Pennywort
  • Red Stemmed Thalia
  • Umbrella Palm
  • Yellow Iris

Non-bog plants that have worked for us:

  • Leopard Plant
  • Butterfly Gingers
  • Day Lilies
  • Caladiums
  • Hibiscus
  • Calla Lily
  • Joe Pye Weed
  • Hostas

19 Responses to Planting a Bog Filter

  1. Joanna April 7, 2016 at 9:44 PM #

    What about watercress?

  2. Lora Lee Gelles April 8, 2016 at 3:04 PM #

    Hi Joanna.
    Watercress likes to have a cold spell each year and thrives in cold water. I don’t know what area you are from, but if you get season changes, then yes, watercress would do well.

  3. Angela April 21, 2016 at 7:37 PM #

    I also have water celery and I put some water hyacinth in there. They get big, dark glossy green.

  4. Leon May 14, 2016 at 3:30 PM #

    If my bog is higher than my pond, why would I not want the water to flow down through the gravel and out through the bottom instead of going up and out like your plan shows? It would seem to be more natural. Just curious. Thanks.

    • Marco September 22, 2017 at 3:07 PM #

      If you do it that way it may clog. I used to have it that way and it usually clogged once a year.

  5. Ruth Hendricks May 27, 2018 at 11:43 AM #

    I want to build a bog filtration system for my 5100 gallon pond but it will have to attach to a small stream. How do I keep the pea gravel from flowing into the stream? I can’t enlarge the pictures to see how your system keeps the gravel in.
    Thank you

  6. Anita Nelson May 28, 2018 at 4:07 PM #

    We have several bog filtration systems that flow into a stream and have never had a problem with pea gravel moving from where it was placed. I think it would take a really powerful pump to make that happen!

  7. Walter February 5, 2019 at 10:13 PM #

    Very helpful article! I have a small (approx 6’x6’) goldfish pond that I am installing a pot bog. Due to the pond being in the center of the patio I do not want the plants to get too tall. I am looking for good filter plants that do not get over a foot or two tall. Are there particular plants from your list that you could suggest? Thanks

  8. Anita Nelson February 7, 2019 at 12:23 PM #

    I would choose Golden Sweetflag, never gets taller than 12″ and clumps. I’d also experiment with some annual flowers for example Torenias have done well for us.

  9. Diane March 29, 2019 at 12:50 PM #

    Is Japanese Blood Grass invasive in a bog filter?

    • Anita Nelson March 30, 2019 at 9:54 AM #

      I have never tried it in a bog. I do know that it likes the soil to be on the dry side so it may not like the conditions of a bog. You are definitely in experimental territory here!

  10. SuAnn in PA April 20, 2019 at 9:27 PM #

    I put in a small bog filter – 30″ across for my 120 gal. pond – two years ago, using your excellent directions; planted a Japanese Iris in it. It worked beautifully for a year and a half, then started overflowing midsummer last year. I hadn’t remembered that I needed to thin the plant last spring, and when I tried to thin it today had to wrestle out a giant, impossible-to-penetrate root ball; it required a 30 lb. digging bar to cut it apart! I’ve gardened with perennials for decades and have never seen anything like this – think I’ll move in a Louisiana water iris, hoping it’s not so vigorous, and plant the Japanese iris chunks elsewhere. Live and learn!

  11. Paddy August 15, 2019 at 4:00 AM #

    I have a badly designed (by me) nsp. A swim zone surrounded by regeneration area. Waste from the fish is building up in the regen zone. I want to use a pump as a vacuum cleaner to remove the fish waste. Can I do this into a gravel bed contained in a bathtub with plants growing in it, or will it clog up too quickly? Many thanks

  12. anita nelson August 19, 2019 at 10:27 AM #

    No I think it should work perfectly! The number one mistake is making the gravel area too deep. You may have to put a false bottom in the bathtub in order to conform with the 12″ depth of the gravel.

  13. dora rogers September 15, 2019 at 9:40 PM #

    My friends bought a house with a small outdoor pond with approximatley 60 gallons. As you can imagine, it was green and yucky and they added several fish. They cleaned it out and same thing – lots of algae. I read the article on bog filters and decided to give it a try. I bought a really nice pot with large holes in the bottom, filled it with gravel then planted ginger, creeping jenny and curly reed grass. I set it on top of the waterfall and drilled a hole in the top edge of the pot for the incoming water. I wasn’t really sure if it would be big enough. Well as of today the water is finally clearing. It took about 1 week to see results. I am so excited and pleased with this beautiful filter that is low maintained and no chemicals. Thanks for writing the article.

  14. Jill Symes February 5, 2020 at 12:49 PM #

    Hi. I have an 8’x8’x18″ pond flowing through waterfalls into a 21’x6’x3′ pond currently filtered by a bio mechanical filter. If I turn the top 8′ pond into a gravel bog filter is this sufficient for the bottom pond? It has about 20 goldfish and a dozen or so newts (All my beautiful 30yr old koi were eaten by a family of mink!!)

  15. Anita Nelson February 11, 2020 at 8:33 AM #

    I would say more than sufficient!

  16. Derek Ho May 12, 2020 at 11:50 PM #

    I am making a 300 gal bog filter in a hardiness zone 7, what plants would you recommend?

    • Lora Lee Gelles May 13, 2020 at 10:16 PM #

      There is a list of suggested plants above. Google them to take a look at them and see what you like. Most sites will tell you what zone the plants can be used in.

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