• Archives

  • Categories

  • Pages

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

How can I prepare my aquatic plants for the fall and winter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How can I prepare my aquatic plants for the fall and winter?

Q: How can I prepare my aquatic plants for the fall and winter?

Sandy – Holly, MI

A: This topic—what to do with your aquatic plants—tops the to-do list of many pond owners and water gardeners at this time of year. No matter the climate where you live, you will need to do some plant clean-up and relocate them to ensure they survive the winter frost and freeze.

What you need to do depends on the type of plant. So pull on your 28-inch, PVC Coralife® Aqua Gloves™ to protect your hands and arms and keep them dry, grab your handy-dandy Pond Scissors and Pliers, and let’s get to work! Here, we’ve outlined some basics:

Hardy Water Lilies

They may be “hardy,” but that doesn’t mean they’re indestructible! When the first frost hits in your area and the lily’s foliage begins to die back, trim the plant material back with your pond scissors to just above the root and toss it in your compost pile. Don’t worry: Come spring, the greenery will reemerge healthy as ever from the plant’s crown. Because water lilies are typically planted in frost-proof deep water, they will overwinter just fine.

Tropical Water Lilies

Tropical water lilies prefer warm temperatures all year long, so these colorful and fragrant beauties will need to be completely removed from your pond and relocated to a protected indoor space for the winter. We’ll talk more about how to overwinter these aquatic plants in future blogs.

Marginals and Bog Plants

As with hardy water lilies, your marginals’ and bog plants’ foliage will need to trimmed back with pond scissors and removed after Jack Frost first arrives. And if your iris, arrowhead, canna and other marginals are at or above water level, sink them lower into the pond where the water remains unfrozen during the wintertime.

Floating Plants

Unless you’re lucky enough to live in a climate that doesn’t freeze, floating plants like hyacinth and water lettuce won’t survive the winter. Plan to remove them from your pond to prevent the dead plants from decomposing and causing water quality issues through the wintertime.

Pond Talk: How do you prepare your aquatic plants for winter?

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

Do I need to fertilize my aquatic plants? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Do I need to fertilize my aquatic plants?

Q: Do I need to fertilize my aquatic plants?

Bruce – Taneytown, MD

A: If your aquatic plants look lackluster, aren’t as lush as you’d like or are failing to produce those show-stopping blooms, they might need a little help – and that’s where fertilizers come to the rescue.

Whether we’re talking about plants in your water garden or vegetable garden, the soil they’re living in provides them with nutrients that they take up through their root systems. If you have your plants in pots or if they’ve been in the ground for some time, the soil will need a boost of plant food. Adding fertilizer will encourage quicker growth in new and established plants, and it will deliver enough nutrients for the plants to form those colorful blooms.

So what kind of fertilizer should you use? There are three basic types to choose from:

Spikes: Fertilizer spikes, like Laguna Plant Grow Fertilizer Spikes, slowly release plant food over the course of one year – making 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.

Liquids: Liquid fertilizers, like Microbe-Lift® Bloom & Grow Aquatic™ Plant Supplement, add micro- and macronutrients to plants through the water rather than soil. These supplements, which need to be added to the pond water once or twice a week during the plants’ growing season, help produce brighter, faster blooms and healthier, stronger roots. The liquid fertilizers are safe to use around fish, but unsafe if the water is intended for human consumption.

No matter which form you choose, make sure it has no or low levels of phosphates, which fuel algae growth. You want your plants to grow – not the green water, right?

Pond Talk: What’s your preferred form of fertilizer?

Laguna Plant Grow Fertilizer Spikes - Maximize Plant Size & Color

Is There Anything I Can Do To Keep My Koi Safe From The Heat? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Is there anything I can do to keep my koi safe from the heat?

Q: Is there anything I can do to keep my koi safe from the heat?

Shalini – Brinkley, AR

A: Baby, it certainly is hot outside! As the temperatures rise, you might think the coolest place to be is in the pond with your fish. Surprisingly, however, pond fish can feel the heat, too. The warm water feels “stuffy” to them because it contains less oxygen than cooler water. Check out these four tips for keeping your koi and goldfish cool as finned cucumbers.

1. Check your Water Temperature: Ideally, your pond’s water temperature should be at a comfortable 70 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Use the Pond Logic® Floating Pond Thermometer to check the pond’s temp, and if it’s too warm, do a partial water change to give the fish some fresh, cool water.

2. Top Off the Pond: Even if your pond’s water temperature is hovering near that 70 degree zone, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your pond’s water level and add more when needed. When the mercury rises, remember that your water will evaporate more quickly into the atmosphere.

3. Create Shady Spots: Just as you seek out shady spots to shield yourself from the sun’s rays, fish will do the same to keep themselves cool – and prevent themselves from getting sunburned! Be sure to provide floating plants, water lilies and other types of shade cover for your pond pets. Have fun with it! Add some tropical lilies like the Panama Pacific, tropical bog plants like the Red Canna or other hot-weather plants that prefer the warmer weather.

4. Provide Aeration: Do you like sitting by the fan or swamp cooler during heat waves like this one? Well, an underwater bubbler or aeration system, such as the Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration System, is like a fan to fish. The cooler water that’s loaded with oxygen is easier for the fish to breathe.

While the heat waves persist this summer, follow these tips to ensure your fish stay cool and comfortable in their watery home. They’ll thank you for it!

Pond Talk: Where is your favorite place to chill out when the temperature soars?

Pond Logic PondAir - Protect Your Prized Fish

I Know That Floating Plants Help Shade My Pond, But What Do Submerged Plants Do? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

I know that floating plants help shade my pond, but what do submerged plants do?

Q: I know that floating plants help shade my pond, but what do submerged plants do?

Donnita – Palos Park, IL

A: Got plants? If you’re like most pond hobbyists, you probably have plenty of growing and blooming greenery surrounding your water garden – but what about sub-surface varieties? Underwater plants, like hornwort, and red stemmed parrots feather, offer great benefits to your water feature and its inhabitants, including:

Filtration: Underwater plants naturally filter your water. How? Plants, with their copious amounts of surface area on their leaves, stems and roots, absorb nitrates and fish waste – which is actually fertilizer to them. The result is a body of water that’s cleaner and clearer, thanks to Mother Nature’s nitrogen cycle.

Predator Protection: Sub-surface plants also give your fish and other pond critters places to hide when predators stalk or attack. Koi and goldfish will swim into the lush growth and hide out when a raccoon stops by the pond or a blue heron circles overhead. The greenery provides excellent camouflage for your finned friends.

Aesthetic Appeal: As popular as they may be, gravel-bottom ponds are boring. And they’re not very natural-looking either. Have you ever seen a wild pond or lake with no plants beneath the surface? Nope, didn’t think so. Ponds planted with below-the-waterline foliage create a more realistic-looking – and aesthetically pleasing – water feature, which is something most (if not all!) hobbyists hope to achieve.

Oxygen: Underwater plants are called “oxygenators” for a reason. They naturally produce oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis – and oxygen is one of the best things for your pond’s health and vitality. When submerged plants are used in combination with a sub-surface aeration system, you’ll wind up with cleaner water that truly supports your pond’s inhabitants.

Spawning Areas: The leaves, stems and root systems of underwater plants give your pond life safe places to spawn and lay their eggs. And when those tiny fry hatch, the plants provide protection, food and a comfy place to call home.

Submerged plants are easy to add to your water garden or fish pond. Simply fill planting baskets, like the Laguna Submersible Pond Planting Baskets, with planting media, add some oxygenators, and place the planted basket on the bottom of your pond or on a plant shelf on the side of your pond. The planting baskets allow the plant’s roots to branch out and find nourishment while containing it and preventing fish from nibbling on its root system.

Add some plants to your pond today. Your fish will thank you for them!

Pond Talk: Do you have submerged plants in your pond?

Create Oxygen For Your Plants - Hornwort Submerged Plants

Are Floating Plants Good For My Water Garden? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Are Floating Plants Good For My Water Garden?

Jean – Emmaus, PA

Yes. To maintain a healthy, well-balanced eco-system for your fish and prevent algae build-up, aim for 40-60% coverage of your pond with pond plants. Floating plants are an important part of the mix. Floating plants such as water hyacinth and water lettuce are chosen most often because they are prolific growers so just a few go a long way. In an 8′ x 10′ pond, 6-10 floating plants are more than enough to get started.

Floating plants protect your fish from the sun, (Yes, fish can get sunburned!) as well as hide them from predators. Floating plants also have extensive root systems to remove excess nutrients from the water. Removing these excessive nutrients will clear the water and help reducer future algae blooms.

While floating plants are a must, there are many other aquatic plants that should be part of the mix. Click over to our Planting Aquatic Plants article to read more about aquatic plant selections and how to plant pond plants.

Pond Talk: What floating plants are in your pond?

Water Hyacinth

4 Tips For Picking The Right Pond Plants | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How Do I Know Which Plants Are Right For My Pond?

Alice – Chesterfield, VA

Know your hardiness zone. The USDA publishes a hardiness zone map that shows in which areas of the country various types of plants can survive and grow. The majority of your pond plants should be from your hardiness zone because they are best able to tolerate the year-round conditions of your area.

Know your pond’s depth. Some pond plants prefer deep water and some pond plants prefer shallow. Hardy water lilies prefer deep water, for example, while bog plants prefer shallow.

Know what type of sun exposure your pond receives. In addition to hardiness zones, plants also are categorized by the type of light they like to receive (full sun, partial sun, or shade). Marsh Marigolds yearn for sun, while Clyde Ikins Water Lily can tolerate the shade.

Know your pond’s flow. This is a factor that water gardeners often overlook. Some pond plants love moving water while others prefer the water stand still. Dwarf cattails, for example, do well in streams because they enjoy moving water, but water lilies are not fans of being right underneath a waterfall.

Hardy Water Lilies

How Do You Divide Water Lilies? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How Do You Divide Water Lilies?

Cindy – Galesburg, IL

Dividing lilies may seem somewhat complicated, but our step-by-step process will explain exactly what you need to do. Try to plan it so you divide them during your spring cleanout, which would give easy access to tubers. Dividing is necessary every two to three years, and it is helpful if you notice the lily grew mostly pads and few lilies over the past season.

Step 1: Remove lilies from pond or container and rinse off. Plant baskets are ideal containers until they are ready to be moved to the pond.

Step 2: Trim away root growth and old foliage.

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: Plant each tuber separately or discard if you wish to reduce the lilies’ quantity in your pond. Use plant fertilizer and planting media for best results and a continuing healthy pond.

Step 5: Replant them shallow in the pond until new growth begins.

Step 6: Upon new growth lilies can be moved deeper into the pond.

TetraPond LilyGro Aquatic Plant Food

What Considerations Should I Make When Ordering Plants For My Water Garden? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

What Considerations Should I Make When Ordering Plants For My Pond?What Considerations Should I Make When Ordering Plants For My Pond?

Monna - Kettering, OH

3 Considerations to Make When Ordering Plants for your Water Garden:

1.) Hardiness Zone: Another thing to consider when order plants are the hardiness zones and shipping times. Plants are assigned a hardiness zone depending on the type of climate they can tolerate. Choosing plants that will do well in your zone will allow for greater success. Due to the cold weather, we will hold your plant order for you and ship it once your location is past the last frost warning for the season. This ensures the plants ship at a time that is more suitable for travel and save you the hassle of trying to store them until spring.
2.) Variety: There are numerous varieties of plants to consider when ordering. Floating plants such as water hyacinth and water lettuce are great to extracting algae-causing nutrients from the water. Submerged plants such as hornwort are oxygenators that will create oxygen throughout the water column. Also, submerged plants add hiding plants for koi and other fish. Bog/marginal plants such as dwarf cattail or arrowhead add a nice touch of nature to any water garden. Water Lilies of course add beauty and color and like floating plants add shade and protection for koi and goldfish.
3.) Coverage: We recommend adding enough plants to cover 60% of the surface of the pond. This balances sunlight and shade and ensures a balanced ecosystem.

If you are unsure of which plants to order or how many, The Pond Guy keeps it easy with Aquatic Plant Packages.

Aquatic Plants

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 123 other followers