The Water Lily & Other Aquatic Or Water Garden
Plants For Your Garden Pond ... An Introduction
It's possible to split the subject of aquatic
plants up into 6 different types of plant behavior
depending. These are ...
The deep water
pond plants and typically the majestic,
colourful, flowering and sometimes fragrant
water lily is the best known. By deep water we
mean ponds between 2 and 6 feet deep. The water
lily is often called a Lotus and the group is
also well known under its group name Nymphaea.
Some of the more interesting varieties or
species of water lily only bloom at night. Night
bloomers normally have serrated leaves and start
opening in the early evening and will continue
to flower until mid morning the next day. If you
want a spectacular night-time pond attraction
spotlight your night bloomers. Waterlilies come
in a wide variety of colours and an infinite
variety of colour shades ... pink, red, white,
blue, yellow, mauve. Some water lilies are
tropical but many are hardy.
The plants that
add vital oxygen to pond water in relatively
large quantities ... these are called
oxygenators or oxygenating plants. They normally
are completely submerged and on a day when the
sun is shining brightly you'll notice small
bubbles of oxygen attached to the plant's leaves
and stems. Canadian Pondweed and Hornwort are
good examples. Fish like to nibble and breed
within this type of plant.
plants like water hyacinth ... this is a pest
by the way and is declared an invasive plant in
most countries. When floating plants find their
way into streams and rivers they can quickly
populate a lake or reservoir to the detriment of
all other aquatic life in that environment. Some
examples are Duckweed, Fairy Moss, Water
Hyacinth and Water Lettuce.
... these do their best in shallow water at the
edge of a pond. They are available from
tall reeds to low growing ground cover. The
Marginal plants are simply planted by lowering
the crates onto the marginal shelves round the
edges of the pond. This is the largest class of
Bog plants (also
called shallow water marginal plants) ... such
water plants are often happy to live in an area
where the ground is damp or even swampy but they
prefer a couple of inches of water covering them. They
don't need to be covered by water. Many of these
have spectacular flowers and one of the classics
is the Marsh Marigold. Examples are Arrowhead,
Cattail, Parrot's Feather and Yellow Flag.
Other deep water
(excluding the water lily) plants that like to
root in mud and only protrude in part from the
A pictorial description of the different types
of pond plants.
Look at the sketch of the plant relative to depth
of water and how the leaves behave and whether they
root deeply into the soil or compost or not?
This picture looking left to
right shows the deep water type as exemplified by
waterlilies. The second image shows the oxygenator
type ... notice the complete submersion of the
plant. And the third is a picture of floating plants
... notice no soil is in contact with the roots.
The picture above going from left to right shows
emerging plants then marginal pond plant types and
finally bog plants which tend to be smaller than
marginals and are happy to live in wet areas and can
even tolerate limited drying out.
Planting Methods For Use In Ponds
Normally pond plants are planted in crates, pots
(containers) or pockets made from hessian sacking,
shade cloth or something similar. Pockets are often
used in marginal areas where space lends itself to
being able to "mould" the planter to the marginal
edge area as distinct from using a rigid planting
crate. At Bradshaws we have a product called the "Edging
Bag Plant Holder". It's a strong and durable hessian
planter with weave backing. The planter is 1 metre
wide and 60cm deep with two planting pockets 50cm x
Crates are probably the most popular (example shown in picture)
and they are low cost. These crates are moulded meshes to intents
and purposes. Many people just use normal planters, pots or low
cost growing containers. It's often a good idea whatever you do,
to place pebbles on top of the soil in the planter so that foraging
koi do not continuously disturb the soil and make the water muddy.
The stones or pebbles also help to keep the planter a bit more
Fertilizing Pond Plants
You need to take care here since adding too
much nitrate will encourage massive algae growth and even blanketweed
invasion. The types of fertilizer available can be granular, liquid
(added directly to the water and benefits floating plants most)
or in aquatic tablet form. The last mentioned type is added directly
to the container at the time of planting.
Choose Your Plants To Have A Purpose
Choose the plant to add colour, to add height,
to create shade, or to deter algae for example. Use a variety
of plants to make an interesting focal point. Remember some plants
grow very tall and do this very quickly. Plants create breeding
areas for your fish. Eggs stick to the stems and leaves and when
the baby fish hatch these plants prove essential cover to prevent
all the eggs being eaten ... most will be eaten but generally
a few lucky ones survive to become adult fish. A rule of thumb
for well established ponds is to provide plant leaf cover for
about 50% of the pond surface area. Waterlilies are best for this.
The extra shade and cover benefit both the fish and clear water
since algae growth is reduced. Algae are also pond or aquatic
plants albeit very small water plants.