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Planting Aquatic Plants – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Picture of a Mayla Water Lily

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: I would like to order plants for my water garden this year, but I don’t know where to begin. What plants should I get and how do I plant them? – Kayla of Florida

A: The simplest and easiest way to select the right variety of aquatic plants is to purchase one of our plant packages. Our plant packages come in multiple sizes with an assortment of beautiful aquatic plants (shipped bare root) that are recommended for great coverage. What kinds of aquatic plants are there? What should I get for my water feature? These are very legitimate questions. There are many different categories of aquatic plants with many species in each category:

Floating - Floating plants such as water hyacinth & water lettuce are best used to absorb excess nutrients that cause excessive algae growth. They also provide shade and cover for the fish.

Submerged - Submerged plants are fantastic oxygenators. They are also used to absorb nutrients, so there is no need to fertilize them.

Bog - You can add a nice touch to your water feature using bog plants. Bog plants are planted around the edges of the pond in shallow water areas. They also act as a visual anchor to the surrounding feature. Bog plants are perennials, meaning that they will grow back every year based on your zone.

Hardy Water Lilies - Hardy water lilies are perennials. They will bloom all summer long on the water surface. Hardy water lilies have smooth waxy leaves that are rounded at the edge.

Tropical Water Lilies - Tropical water lilies have very fragrant blossoms and will have several blooms at a time. These lilies come in daytime and nighttime blooming varieties. Tropical water lilies will be jagged or pointed around the edge of the leaves.

Hardy Water Lotuses - Hardy water lotuses have very large blooms and leaves that can stand out of the water from two to five feet depending on the variety. A hardy water lotus may take up to two years to become fully established.

So why are aquatic plants so important? In a water feature, plants are absolutely vital in balancing the ecosystem, and they offer an aesthetic touch to your landscape. If you ever wonder what causes algae to grow or why your pond isn’t clear, there are really only four factors to consider:

  • Not enough filtration
  • Too many fish
  • Not enough aquatic plants
  • Not using DefensePAC (natural bacteria)

The recommendation for aquatic plant coverage is 60% of your overall water feature surface. This will provide enough absorption of nutrients to help combat algae before it has a chance to grow.

Now that I know aquatic plants are important, how do I plant them? That’s a great question. Here is the rundown:

Floating - Floating plants do not need to be planted. Simply toss plants onto the surface of the water or place inside a Waterfall Filter unit for added filtration and to prevent vigorous spreading. This will also help to hide the Waterfall Filter.

Submerged - Submerged plants may free-float throughout your water feature. If your water feature is equipped with a skimmer, you may want to wrap a weight around the base of the plant before tossing it in to prevent the skimmer from pulling in the plant.

Bog - Simply create pockets and crevices 6-8″ in depth between the gravel and boulders. Remove the marginal plant from its pot, move gravel aside, place the plant and then spread the gravel around the base of the plant for support.

Hardy & Tropical Water Lilies - Prepare lily pockets by making indentations within your first or second shelf (12″ to 18″ in depth). Place the lily tuber in the lily pocket and fill
with aquatic planting media (remember to not cover the crown, a.k.a. growing tip of the lily). Finally, spread loose gravel around the
base of the lily to prevent the soil from being stirred up.

Hardy Water Lotuses - Hardy water lotuses are usually potted in wide, shallow containers because of their aggressive behavior. Hard water lotuses should be planted in a round container at least 18″ in diameter with 6″ of depth. It must be round, because square pots can cause lotuses to die when the tuber gets crunched into a corner during heavy growth seasons. Gently place the tuber into at least 3″ of soil. Fill the rest of the container up to the brim with with gravel and place 10-12″ deep within the pond depending on variety.

Installing a Pond Aeration System Away From Your Pond – Pond & Lake Q & A

Illustration of a Pond Aeration System Installed When the Power is Away from the Pond

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: I know I need an aeration system, but I don’t have power next to my pond. Is a windmill or solar aeration system my only option?
– Jacob of Georgia

A: The short answer is no. There is a common misunderstanding that our (electric) Airmax Aeration Systems require power at the pond or lake’s edge. In reality, however, the Airmax Aeration System can be installed several thousand feet from the edge of a pond or lake. Your Airmax power unit or cabinet may be placed at the nearest or most convenient power source such as your home, barn or other out building. All that is needed with this type of installation is a shallow trench 6-12 inches deep to place the Airmax Direct Burial Airline in. The Direct Burial Airline will then transfer the air to the pond or lake’s edge where it can be connected to Airmax EasySet Self-Weighted Airline and continue on to the diffuser.

Illustration of a Pond Aeration System Installed When the Power is Near the Pond

Alternative aeration systems such as windmills and solar seem like a natural fit for installations where power is not easily accessible, although it is important to understand that you may not receive the same benefits from these types of aeration devices. Windmills only work when there is steady wind (5 mph or more) and solar systems have to run on an on/off cycle. Under optimal light conditions a solar aeration system can run continuously for 15-20 hours before shutting down to allow the batteries to charge. Another disadvantage of alternative aeration devices is their cost. This is especially true of the solar models. With the purchase price being so high the energy consumption of an Airmax Aeration System being so low it is nearly impossible to recuperate any cost savings due to electrical consumption. A typical Airmax Aeration System designed to aerate up to one surface acre will cost less than $18 per month, running 24 hours per day.

To receive the benefits of aeration, your system should run 24 hours per day! The goal of aeration is circulation and the introduction of oxygen to the bottom of your pond or lake. A properly sized aeration system will use the bubbles created by the diffuser to force the cooler water from the bottom of your pond to the surface. The water at the surface is warmer and less dense or lighter. The cooler or heavier water will be pushed up by the diffuser then forced outward where it will naturally sink due to its heavier density. Aeration devices that are under powered, have poorly designed delivery devices (diffusers) or not operated continuously generally will not provide the true benefits of aeration. Do your research and spend your money wisely!

Aeration Benefits:

  • Clean & Clear Water Column
  • Elimination of Thermal Stratification
  • Reduced Sediment
  • Stronger and More Productive
    Fish Population
  • Elimination of Fish Kills and
    Turnover
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