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How many plants do I need in my pond, and do I need to fertilize them? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: How many plants do I need in my pond, and do I need to fertilize them?

Q: How many plants do I need in my pond, and do I need to fertilize them?

Cynthia – Bishop, CA

A: A good mix of aquatic plants does more than beautify your water garden. The marginal, floating and submerged plants, such as those found in our Aquatic Plant Packages, also absorb excess nutrients in the water and shade the pond’s surface, which can help prevent algae attacks and protect your finned friends from hungry herons and raccoons.

When planting aquatic plants in and around your pond, you should ideally have 40 to 60 percent of your water garden’s surface covered with floating aquatic plants, like hardy water lilies, water hyacinth and water lettuce. This allows for enough nutrient absorption and shading to prevent algae from gaining a foothold in your pond.

Just like the plants in your vegetable garden, those lilies and bog plants need some nutrients added to their soil to thrive. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Spikes: Fertilizer spikes, like Laguna Plant Grow Fertilizer Spikes, slowly release plant food, which makes them super easy to use. The balanced nutrients in the spikes encourage both foliage and root growth and flower production, while the low phosphorous and no copper formula ensure no adverse effects on water quality or fish and plant life. You simply push the spike into the soil (one for every 1 to 2 gallons of planting container space) and forget about it until next year.
  • Tabs: Tabs, like TetraPond® LilyGro™ Aquatic Plant Food, are formulated for use during your aquatic plants’ growing season. As with the spikes, the nutrients in the fertilizer encourage greenery and bloom production, but the tabs need to be added to the soil monthly for best results. Using one tablet per gallon of potted soil, push it deep into the soil 3 inches from the crown of the plant and pack the hole with dirt to prevent the fertilizer from being released into the water.

During the growing season, plan to fertilize your water lilies and marginal plants once per month. Floating and submerged plants should have plenty of nutrients in the water to feed them. Enjoy your blooms!

Pond Talk: What is your favorite aquatic plant?

Add Living Color To Your Pond - Aquatic Plant Packages

I just installed a backyard water garden. How do I take care of it? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I just installed a backyard water garden. How do I take care of it?

Q: I just installed a backyard water garden. How do I take care of it?

Cheryl – Charlotte, NC

A: Congratulations! You’ve just waded into a relaxing and exciting hobby that will give you joy for years to come—as long as take proper care of it. Here’s a quick rundown of what we recommend to new pond hobbyists.

1. Keep It Clean

First and foremost, it’s critical to keep your water column clean and your pond’s rocks and surfaces free from muck and debris. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a smelly, algae-filled hole in the ground, and who wants that—particularly if you plan on hosting backyard barbeques this summer!

We suggest you use the Pond Logic® DefensePAC®, an easy-to-use combo pack that includes Oxy-Lift™ Defense®, Nature’s Defense®, Clarity Defense®, Muck Defense® and Seasonal Defense®. These products work together to remove excess debris and promote a healthy ecosystem for your fish and plants all year long.

2. Beautify It

If you’re like many water garden hobbyists, you’ll soon be adding aquatic plants to you pond (if you haven’t already!). Water lilies, water hyacinth, irises and a host of other floating, submerged and marginal plants can do wonders to spruce up a backyard, adding pops of color and interest to your outdoor living space.

But that’s not all. Aquatic plants, like those found in our Aquatic Plant Packages, also naturally filter the water in your pond by removing harmful pollutants and gases, releasing oxygen and being a breeding ground for muck-destroying beneficial bacteria. Plus, your fish will use the plants as an underwater playground!

3. Add Some Finned Friends

Speaking of which, you may also wish to add koi, goldfish and other aquatic critters, like snails and turtles, to your pond. They’re fun to watch and care for, they add life and movement to your water garden, and they add another dimension to your new hobby. (If you haven’t been to a koi show yet, plan on it!)

A word of warning: Remember that fish grow, so don’t maximize your fish load from the get go. A booming population of goldfish, koi or other pond fish means an overload of fish waste, which can cause problems down the road. In general, we recommend one 6- to 8-inch fish per 10 square feet of surface area.

4. Beef Up Your Filter Media

Finally, let’s talk filter media. Where is it? Do you have enough of it? Filter media typically lives in your filter box, and its purpose is to mechanically remove large debris from your water as it flows through the filter, as well as provide a home for gunk-gobbling beneficial bacteria.

When it comes to filter media, more is definitely better. You can easily beef it up by adding BioBalls™ Filter Media to your waterfall box or some extra Matala® Filter Media Pads to your filter.

Enjoy your new hobby!

Pond Talk: What was your first water garden like? What changes have you made to it since then?

Season Long Pond Care Package - Pond Logic® DefensePAC®

My pond was clean but now it’s starting to turn green. What should I do? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My pond was clean but now it’s starting to turn green. What should I do?

Q: My pond was clean but now it’s starting to turn green. What should I do?

Cynthia – Richmond Hill, GA

A: First of all, don’t panic! Let’s begin by taking a look at the three main causes of green water: too many fish, inadequate filtration and not enough plant coverage.

Control Your Fish Population

A booming population of goldfish, koi or other pond fish means an overload of fish waste, and all those excess nutrients actually feed the algae that’s turning your water green. To keep that waste in check, we recommend one 6- to 8-inch fish per 10 square feet of surface area. If you have too many finned friends, consider giving some away.

Provide Adequate Filtration

If your fish are family members and you’re not quite ready to bid them adieu, you’ll need to pump up your filtration with an AllClear™ PLUS filter. Adequate mechanical, biological and ultraviolet filtration will remove the excess waste from the water and help control the prolific green stuff.

Shade the Water

Algae are plants, and plants need sunlight to grow. A third way to control algae is to shade the water with plants like water lilies and water hyacinth. We recommend that you shade 40 to 60 percent of your pond for best results. The plants also provide all-natural biological filtration and make your water garden look great. Not sure what kinds of plants to get? Start with our Aquatic Plant Package, which includes a great selection of cultivars for your pond size.

Give It Time …

Most importantly, try to practice some patience. If you’ve just done a major cleanout, your biological filtration may need some more time to get established and working. Give it a kick-start with some beneficial bacteria like Nature’s Defense. The microorganisms will get to work digesting those dead organics.

If you control your fish population, adequately filter and shade your water, and boost your biological filtration by adding bacteria, your pond will be clear again before long—and you can stop singing those green-water blues.

Pond Talk: If you’ve had to give away some of your fish, how do you find new homes for them?

Three Types Of Filtration, One Powerful Unit - The Pond Guy® AllClear™ PLUS Pressurized Filter

My lilies are growing outside the pots! How do I divide my water lilies? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

My lilies are growing outside the pots! How do I divide my water lilies?

Q: My lilies are growing outside the pots! How do I divide my water lilies?

Susan – Centreville, MI

A: Lackluster growth or blooms on your water lilies last season is and indication that it’s time to divide them. Early spring is the best time to divide your water lilies but most varieties of hardy water lilies can be divided anytime during the growing season.

For easiest access, you may want to divide your water lilies during your spring cleanout. Hardy water lilies should be divided every 2-3 years to ensure your lilies are producing beautiful blooms season after season. Dividing lilies may seem complicated, but our step-by-step process will explain exactly what you need to do.

Step 1: Remove lilies from pond or container. Carefully move the plant to a workspace and remove from its container. You may need to cut open the basket depending on how root bound your lily is.

Step 2: Rinse off any old soil and remove roots that are not attached to the plant. Split the crown of the plant with a sharp knife to cut through the creamy white rhizome, saving the youngest parts of the clump, typically around the outside edge, for repotting.

Step 3: Cut the tuber down to size. You can safely cut the tuber down between two to three inches on the growing part with a sharp knife. This can be increased to five to six inches on longer plants. Remember to also cut off new buds and older leaves, so that the new root system has a chance to grow.

Step 4: Use Plant Bags or Plant Baskets to replant your water lilies. Plant each tuber with the growing tip facing outward. Fill in around the tuber with aquatic planting media, such as Microbe-Lift, making sure the roots are spread well and the crown is sitting just below the soil surface.

Step 5: If using a plant basket, place in shallow area of pond to encourage faster growth.

Step 6: Once new leaves have reached the surface, lilies can be moved deeper into the pond.

Don’t forget to fertilize your water lilies monthly during the growing season to keep your plants healthy and gorgeous. Remove spent blooms and old leaves to encourage new growth.

Pond Talk: How often do you divide your water lilies and other aquatic plants?

Flexible Pond Planters For All Your Plant Needs - The Pond Guy® Plant Bags

When should I take the aerator out of my water garden? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

When should I take the aerator out of my water garden?

Q: When should I take the aerator out of my water garden?

Peter – Townsend, DE

A: You gotta love your aerator. This valuable wintertime tool not only keeps a hole in the ice for gas exchange, but it also circulates the water beneath the ice. Your Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration System keeps your fish happy and healthy through the icy winter months.

As springtime approaches and you notice that the ice covering your pond starts to recede, your fish may become more active. This indicates that your finned friends are no longer under threat from trapped gas—so it’s logical to assume you can remove the aerator, right?

Not so fast.

Mother Nature has a way of teasing us with spring sunshine, so don’t get too excited. In most places across the continent, it’s still cold and your pond’s ecosystem will remain dormant until water temperatures start hitting the 50-degree mark.

Your best bet is to keep the aerator running.

Chances are that you’re not quite ready to get the filtration system up and running in your pond, so your aerator will continue to circulate the water and saturate it with oxygen.

Even when the water warms up, your aerator’s added circulation is great for the pond and fish during the hot summer months. Plus, it helps stimulate filtration and beneficial bacteria. If you leave it running, you’ll see that the benefits outweigh the nominal amount it costs to run it.

Pond Talk: Has spring sprung in your part of the country?

Breathe Life Into Your Pond - Pond Logic® PondAir™ & TrueRock™ Combo

Why do I need aquatic plants in my water garden? When should I get them? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Why do I need aquatic plants in my water garden? When should I get them?

Q: Why do I need aquatic plants in my water garden? When should I get them?

Melissa – Sedalia, MO

A: It’s a water garden, not a vegetable or flower garden, right? So why do you need plants in your pond? What purpose do they serve? Well, even if you don’t have a green thumb, there are some very good reasons why plants belong in your pond—four of them, in fact.

  • Fish Cover: First of all, floating plants like water lilies and water lettuce provide your pond’s inhabitants cover from predators and bright sun. Your koi and goldfish will appreciate the safety and shade those leaves provide, particularly when a heron comes to visit!
  • All-Natural Water Filter: Bog, floating and underwater plants, like water hyacinth, parrot’s feather and irises, naturally filter the water, too. They’re nicknamed “nature’s water filter” for a reason: They remove excess nutrients from the water while releasing oxygen during photosynthesis.
  • Habitable Habitat: Plants also create a perfect habitat for your aquatic life—both above and below the waterline—by providing food and shelter. Fish and snails hang out around the leaves and stems, frogs hunt for bugs and hide in the shade, and birds and insects flock to the flowers for nectar.
  • Aesthetics: Aquatic plants’ flowers and greenery make for some nice scenery for you, too. Imagine water lilies and irises bursting with color, and curly corkscrew rush and lizard’s tail softening the outline around the pond. Not a bad view while enjoying a balmy spring evening!

Even though Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring, it’s still cold outside—too cold for plants. But you can still start thinking about cultivars you’d like to grow in your water garden!

You could head down to your local water garden retailer and check out their selection, but a better option is to order plants via mail order. Simply flip through your favorite mail-order nursery catalog or check out the assortment of aquatic plants at The Pond Guy®. Place your order and voila! Your aquatic plants will be delivered in the spring.

In many cases, if you place your order early the nursery will hold your order until the weather in your area is suitable to grow the plants. Another benefit of having your plants shipped: They’ll be less expensive because you’re not purchasing a full-grown potted plant. Once they arrive, they’ll need some time to grow—but once they get growing and blossoming, you won’t even know the difference!

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite aquatic plant?

Add Color To Your Pond - Grower's Choice Hardy Water Lilies

Can I overwinter my tropical water lilies? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Can I overwinter my tropical water lilies?

Q: Can I overwinter my tropical water lilies?

Jill – Kingsport, TN

A: Unlike other aquatic plants that will happily overwinter in the deeper regions of your pond, tropical water lilies need special care.

Here are six steps to follow when putting your blooming beauties to bed for the season.

1. Slow the Growth: First, when the air temperatures start to cool (like right about now …), slow down or stop fertilizing the lilies to slow the plant’s growth. This allows the plant to naturally slow its metabolic processes and more easily transition into winter. If you abruptly stop fertilizing and remove the plant from the pond, you could shock the lily and damage it.

2. Deadhead and Remove Foliage: Next, using your Coralife® Aqua Gloves™ and Pond Scissors and Pliers, snip off all lily pads and blooms from the lily tuber once your pond’s water temperatures start to dip below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Besides looking unsightly, the spent flowers and foliage will start to wilt and should be removed to reduce waste material.

3. Remove and Rinse: Once you’ve cleaned up the plant, gently remove the lily tuber from pond and rinse it off in a bucket or with your garden hose. Trim off any straggling foliage with your pond scissors.

4a. Bury Tuber in Moist Sand: To keep the tuber moist and healthy during the winter, fill a sealable container with moist (but not too wet!) sand and bury it, covering it lightly with sand. Moist sand will hold moisture to keep tuber from completely drying—but if the sand is too wet, the tuber may rot.

4b. Submerge Tuber, Place Under Grow Light: Another overwintering option is to fill a container with distilled water and place the tuber under a grow light in a room that’s a comfortable 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The lily will continue to grow slowly through the winter months.

5. Safely Store and Inspect Often: If you choose the sand-storage option, store the container in a cool, dark place like a basement—but make sure it’s not too warm or too cold. If it’s too warm, the tuber may start to grow or rot; if it’s too cold, the tuber may freeze. Check on the tuber often to make sure the sand is still moist and the tuber is not rotting.

6. Replant in the Spring: Once pond water temperatures return to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the spring, haul your container to the pond, pull out the tuber and replant it in the pond. Don’t forget to add a dose of fertilizer to jump-start the growing season!

Pond Talk: What do you do with your tropical water lilies in the wintertime?

Coralife® Aqua Gloves™ - Keep your hands clean & day

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