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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

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