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I just bought a plant package. What should I do now? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I just bought a plant package. What should I do now?

Q: I just bought a plant package. What should I do now?

Rick – Winchester, NH

A: Congratulations! For water garden enthusiasts like us, opening an aquatic plant package is like celebrating Christmas in spring. A box of colorful flower tubers, oxygenating plants and algae-eating snails arrives at your doorstep, and you get to look forward to a season of fun in your backyard playground.

Depending on the package size (small, medium or large) you received, you’ll get:

  • Water lilies
  • Floating plants, like water hyacinth, water lettuce and parrot’s feather
  • Bog plants, like blue flag iris and dwarf cattail
  • Pond snails

These pond plants work together to shade the pond, aerate and filtrate the water, provide habitat for wildlife and insects (and your snails), and beatify your landscape.

Ready to get growing? Here’s how to care for – and play with – your Christmas-in-spring present.

Pond Snails

After traveling all those agitating miles to your doorstep, the Black Japanese Trapdoor Pond Snails may appear lifeless or even dead, but don’t worry: They’re most likely hiding inside their shells. Wake them up and welcome them to your garden by filling the bag halfway with pond water, and then floating or holding it for a few minutes while the gastropods acclimate to the new environment. Then place the open bag in a shallow area and let them work their way out and into the deeper section of your pond.

Plant Care

Before your plant package arrives, purchase some planting containers (like baskets, bags or pots) and aquatic planting media. Use soil designed for water gardens; avoid using bagged potting mix and other lightweight soils from your local garden center, as they will float and cloud the water in your pond.

  • Water lilies: With your pots and plant media ready, take out your water lily tubers and place one inside a pot with the growing tip facing outward. Fill in around the tuber with the aquatic planting media, making sure the roots are well spread and the crown is sitting just below the soil surface. Place the planted pot in a shallow area of your pond to encourage faster growth. Once leaves have reached the surface, you can move the water lily to a deeper part of your pond.
  • Floating Plants: These plants are easy to propagate. Simply place in the water! They will float freely and take up nutrients from the water through their root systems.
  • Bog Plants: Like the water lilies, these around-the-edge plants require a pot and planting material. Position the tubers in the media so that the cut end of the tuber is against the side of the pot, not in the middle. Why? Because the roots need as much room as possible to spread through the soil and across the container. Once it’s planted, submerge the container on a shelf that’s up to 6 inches below the water surface.

Keep Them Growing

Like the plants growing in your vegetable garden, your aquatic plants will require fertilizer to help them grow healthy and strong. Spikes or tabs, like CrystalClear® Thrive™ tablets, can be pushed into the soil at planting time. They’ll slowly release into the media, feeding your lilies and irises the nutrients they need to thrive. From April through August, continue to feed your plants, following all manufacturers’ recommendations for fertilizer application rates.

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite aquatic plant?

Pot Your Plants with Beneficial Bacteria - Microbe-Lift(r) Aquatic Planting Media

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

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

Aquatic Plants – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Pink Water Lily

Get Ready to Soil Your Plants
Owning a small pond is not just about pumps, filters, and fish. Pond guys and gals everywhere are exercising their green thumbs by implementing aquatic plants into their water feature.

Go Green or Go Home
Aquatic plants are an excellent addition to your pond as they add life to your water garden with their diverse shapes and colors. In addition to their obvious visual appeal, plants also feed off of available nutrients in your water garden which decreases the amount of food available for potential algae blooms. Furthermore, aquatic plants provide food for your fish population as well as places to spawn and hide.

Plethora of Plants
You may love the idea of incorporating plants into your water garden, but there are so many types to choose from it may feel a bit overwhelming. If you are still a bit fresh in the water gardening scene, or you just don’t know that much about aquatic plants, you can find solace in an Aquatic Plant Package. Getting great plants for your water garden is as simple as choosing a plant package that fits the square footage of your pond. Packages also include Black Japanese Trapdoor Snails, which are great for eating algae without taking over your entire water garden. More adventurous water garden owners can purchase aquatic plants à la carte to add even more diversity to their pond. Mixing a variety of plants will make for a more interesting landscape and will help promote a balanced ecosystem as each plant has its own unique attributes.

Click over to our Planting Aquatic Plants article to read more about aquatic plant selections and how to plant them.

POND TALK: What type of plant selection can be found in your water garden? Which plant is a MUST have?

Aquatic Plant Packages

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