10 Awesome Flowering Aquarium Plants (Species Guide)

When it comes to flowers most of us don’t think about aquariums. Instead, we think about gardens and botanical displays on land. But as it turns out, there are several aquarium plants that readily produce flowers in the right conditions.

Many of them even produce large, colorful blossoms that are as beautiful as anything you’ll find in your garden! Let’s take a look at some of the most beautiful flowering aquarium plants in the hobby right now!

Best Flowering Aquarium Plants

Here are 10 of our favorite flowering aquarium plants:

Anubias

Anubias Barteri

Anubias are great plants for aquarists of all skill levels. They are typically grown in low-light settings and in fact seem to be easily burned in intense light environments.

They don’t require much in the way of carbon dioxide or fertilization. Anubias don’t even need (or want to be) planted in fancy enriched substrates! They are epiphytes, meaning they grow attached to hard surfaces like rocks and driftwood.

Anubias flowers are very interesting, with a thick central spadix covered in tiny flowers. This spadix is surrounded by a single white specialized leaf that resembles a petal. They are also one of the few aquatic plants that will create a flower while entirely submerged!

They will usually try to send their blossom to the surface but if not their flowers may simply open right into the water column. Anubias can also grow emersed, making them excellent flowering plants for paludariums.

  • Scientific Name: Anubias sp.
  • Origin: West Africa
  • Height: 2-12 inches
  • Light Needs: Low
  • Nutrition: Low
  • Ease of Care: Very Easy

Banana Plant

Banana plants are popular flowering aquarium plants that also go by Banana Lily or Fairy Lily. They are so common because they are very easy to grow. 

Like all lilies they send their leaves up towards the surface. This way, they can drink in all of the light and carbon dioxide they want instead of having to get it filtered through the water.

They also grow delicate white flowers that they send up to the surface on a long stem. Once exposed bees and other flying insects can spread the pollen to nearby Banana plants.

They get their name from the root nodules that grow along the base; they look just like a bunch of green bananas! These “bananas” are actually nutrient storage chambers that help the plant get through the cold winters in the United States. 

Make sure you don’t bury the “bananas” when planting your banana plant as this will cause them to rot, killing the plant.

  • Scientific Name: Nymphoides aquatica
  • Origin: North America
  • Height: 2 feet
  • Light Needs: Moderate to High
  • Nutrition: Moderate
  • Ease of Care: Easy

Cryptocoryne

cryptocoryne in aquarium

With their curly dark leaves and bullet-proof nature, Cryptocoryne are some of the best aquarium plants for beginners. They are flowering aquarium plants that thrive in low light tanks and don’t need much in the way of carbon dioxide or fertilizer.

These things do help speed their growth, however. Without them, they tend to grow at an almost glacial pace, needing many months to truly get established and fill in with new leaves.

Unfortunately, Cryptocoryne very rarely flowers if kept fully submerged. In their native lands, they produce flowers during seasonal variations in water level. Once the dry season starts they switch to reproduction mode, creating white flowers. 

Like many riverbank plants they can live both in and out of the water. This makes Crypts a great choice for a paludarium. In aquariums you may be lucky enough to see a mature plant send a single flower shooting towards the surface, though!

  • Scientific Name: Cryptocoryne sp.
  • Origin: South Asia
  • Height: 2-20 inches
  • Light Needs: Low
  • Nutrition: Low
  • Ease of Care: Very Easy

Amazon Sword Plant

Amazon Sword plant

Amazon Sword plants crave heat, light, and fertilizer but are otherwise undemanding. Coming from the Amazon Rainforest, they grow in the steamy shallows alongside Discus, Angelfish, and many other popular aquarium fish.

If you give your Amazon Sword plant plenty of light and nutrition, it just may surprise you with a flower stalk! It sends this special stem up to the surface where pale white flowers can then bloom.

Even if you only have one Sword plant, you’re in luck, however. These flowers are self-pollinating and will eventually share enough pollen to form new plants right on the stem!

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These new Sword plants can then be cut from their parents and replanted in the aquarium. They also reproduce via runners that are clones of the parent. However, they typically need a substrate rich in nutrients to help speed their growth. In short, these are tremendously easy flowering aquarium plants to grow if you give them the attention they crave!

  • Scientific Name: Echinodorus sp.
  • Origin: Amazon Rainforest
  • Height: Up to 20 inches
  • Light Needs: Moderate
  • Nutrition: High
  • Ease of Care: Easy

Bucephalandra

Bucephalandra are similar to their distant cousins Anubias in almost every way. They are slow-growing epiphytes that attach to shaded rocks and driftwood. Since they grow in the splash zone of mountain streams, they can grow both in and out of the water.

While they are almost set and forget plants, Buce really does enjoy carbon dioxide and tends to stop growing almost entirely without some source of it. Building a yeast-based DIY carbon dioxide system is an inexpensive way to get started! Also, products like Seachem Excel provide liquid carbon to plants in a fast and simple fashion!

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Seachem Flourish Excel Bioavailable Carbon - Organic Carbon Source for Aquatic Plants 250 ml
  • CARBON PRODUCTION: All plants require a source of...
  • IRON PRODUCTION: Flourish Excel also possesses...
  • PHOTOSYNTHESIS: Plants must produce longer chain...

Despite being very slow-growing plants the flower only lasts for a few days before decaying. The flower stalk also takes quite a while to reach the surface and may decay if the plant is deeply submerged and decides it’s not worth the resources to grow one. 

  • Scientific Name: Bucephalandra sp.
  • Origin: Indonesia
  • Height: 2-8 inches
  • Light Needs: Low
  • Nutrition: Low
  • Ease of Care: Easy

Cabomba

Cabomba are popular flowering aquarium plants that rarely get to show off their small, pretty blossoms. These plants are very light-hungry and typically flower once they reach the surface and have a chance to sprawl right across the area. If you let your Cabomba float it’s also more likely to flower this way.

Cabomba have classic flowers that are more what you’d expect from a terrestrial plant. They vary between white, pink, and purple, depending on the species and variety. They are scented and have nectar to entice bees to visit and spread their pollen.

Cabomba flowers are the only parts of the plant that remain above water. The rest is entirely submerged and remains so year-round.

  • Scientific Name: Cabomba sp.
  • Origin: Worldwide
  • Height: 20 inches
  • Light Needs: High
  • Nutrition: Moderate
  • Ease of Care: Moderate

Red Tiger Lotus

Red Tiger Lotus are gorgeous flowering aquarium plants that need just a bit more space than most. Their red leaves can be up to 8 inches across and they will eventually shade the surface, stealing light from nearby plants.

Being a true Lily, Red Tiger Lotus produce showy star-like lily flowers that are usually white, blue, or red. These flowers float along the surface right beside their lily pads, encouraging bees to stop for a visit.

If you enjoy the flowers, make sure you trim them once they’re fully developed. This will keep the Tiger Lotus producing flowers for months. Otherwise the flowers will eventually wilt and go into seed production mode. 

Red Tiger Lotus are light and nutrient-hungry but are otherwise very easy to keep. They don’t need bright lights or carbon dioxide additions since they get all they need right at the surface of the water.

  • Scientific Name: Nymphaea zenkeri
  • Origin: Easy Africa
  • Height: 20 inches
  • Light Needs: High
  • Nutrition: Moderate
  • Ease of Care: Easy 

Aponogeton

If you’re looking to try a flowering aquarium plant for the first time, Aponogeton are probably the easiest plants to start with. This is the genus name for a wide variety of plants that are usually sold as dry bulbs in pet stores. 

They tend to have wavy or crinkled leaves that are bright to dark green in color. The Madagascar Lace Plant, Aponogeton madagascariensis, is considered one of the finest show plants in the hobby, with its skeletal leaves!

Aponogeton will flower in most conditions so long as it’s given ample nutrients and at least moderate lighting levels. They like but don’t require carbon dioxide (except A. madagascariensis). The flowers are also self-fertilizing so there’s no work needed to pollinate them manually.

  • Scientific Name: Aponogeton sp.
  • Origin: Africa, Asia, & Australia
  • Height: 8-30 inches
  • Light Needs: Low to Moderate
  • Nutrition: Low to Moderate
  • Ease of Care: Easy to Moderate

Giant Hygrophila

Hygrophila are an Asian group of fast growing, nutrient hungry swamp plants and the Giant Hygro is the largest of the bunch. It can grow up to 2 feet tall and 8-12 inches across, making it an excellent space filling background or show plant that’s easy to care for.

The best way to get Giant Hygrophila to flower is to allow it to grow out of the aquarium entirely! It’s a swamp weed, after all, and prefers its feet to be wet but it’s head dry. Once it breaks the surface it will start to produce tiny purple flowers that have a delightful smell to them.

Giant Hygrophila love light but are otherwise undemanding. They appreciate fertilizer and carbon dioxide but can do without them, especially if you let them grow out of the aquarium where they can get unlimited CO2 from the air!

  • Scientific Name: Hygrophila corymbosa
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Height: 2 feet
  • Light Needs: Moderate to High
  • Nutrition: Moderate
  • Ease of Care: Easy

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