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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

Help! How do I get rid of green water? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Help! How do I get rid of green water?

Q: Help! How do I get rid of green water?

Linda – Gardnerville, NV

A: Nope, there’s nothing nice about a pea soup-colored pond. Just about every water gardener dreams of a clean, crystal-clear pond – not an algae-filled eyesore. During the warmer seasons, what do you do to prevent and get rid of that unsightly green water? By making sure your pond is in balance.

For a stable pond that inhibits algae growth, you have to strike a perfect balance (or close to perfect, anyway) between fishes, aeration and filtration. And to keep it that way, you have to keep it well maintained. Here’s what you need to know to get rid of that green water.

Watch Fish Load, Feeding

Yes, it’s tempting to take home a dozen or more of those tiny koi from your favorite water garden retailer. But remember: those fish will grow and excrete nutrients that feed the algae. The rule of thumb is to allow 1 inch of adult fish per square foot of surface area, so don’t max out your capacity with one impulse buy at the koi store.

Speaking of fish, take it easy with the food. Feed them a quality diet, like Pond Logic® Growth and Color Fish Food, once a day, and give them only what they can gobble down in a few minutes. Anything more than that just adds excess waste to the pond – which is food for the algae. You can feed your finned friends more often, but be prepared to do more partial water changes or add extra filtration to handle the job.

Add Some Aeration, Bacteria

When you circulate your pond’s water with an aeration system, like the Airmax® KoiAir™ Water Garden Aeration System, you deliver oxygen to the bottom where all the muck – a.k.a. algae chow – sits. This oxygen helps all the beneficial bacteria, like Muck Defense® that’s found in the Pond Logic® DefensePAC® Pond Care Package, break down and consume the material there and throughout the water column, resulting in cleaner, clearer water. Plus, the aeration is good for your fish’s health, too.

Filtration – the Bigger, the Better

Go big with your mechanical filtration system. Make sure it’s at least big enough to handle the amount of water in your pond. Manufacturers rate filters for minimal fish load, so if you intend to have a lot of fish, go even bigger.

Plants – floating, submerged, marginals and bog varieties – make excellent natural filtration systems that complement your mechanical and biological filtration. Plants also shade the pond, keeping temperatures cooler and sheltering your fish. So try to cover 40 to 60 percent of your water with plants.

If you still have a pea soup colored pond after getting your fish load right, your feeding routine in check, your aeration system in place and your filtration system humming and growing, it’s time for the big guns – an ultraviolet clarifier. A UV clarifier, like The Pond Guy® PowerUV™ Ultraviolet Clarifier, will help to bind the green water algae so it can be pulled out by your filter.

Keep It Clean, Kind Of

Normal maintenance, like regular partial water changes and debris removal, can go a long way to get rid of excess nutrient buildup. But don’t overdo the filter-cleaning chores. Too much – meaning daily or weekly – washing of the filter media will wear the material down faster and wipe out the beneficial bacteria that actually clean the water. If water is unable to pass through the filter, simply rinse it lightly with water.

And if you don’t already, it’s always a good idea to do an annual spring cleanout of your pond to get rid of organic materials that feed the algae.

Pond Talk: How can you tell when your pond or water garden is out of balance?

Pond Logic® DefensePAC® - 5 Simple Steps To Clear Water

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 Can I Do To Maintain My Pond This Season? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Can sidewalk salt be used to melt the ice off my pond?

This will be our first full season with our pond. What should we do for proper maintenance?

Joe – Aurora, CO

The first season with your new pond can be an exciting and relatively hassle free endeavor, as long as you take the right precautions to maintain it properly. Lucky for you, you’ve come to the right place to learn exactly what you’ll need in order to successfully maintain your pond for the season.

Remember, a balanced ecosystem is key. Listed below are the main elements used to maintain a balanced pond.

Filtration – Whether you have a waterfall, pressurized or gravity type filter, make sure the included Filter Media is clean and in good condition. Mechanical filtration like skimmer filters should be cleaned regularly to prevent clogging. Biological filter media, like the pads in your waterfall or bio-media in your pressurized filter, should be cleaned sparingly to promote an accumulation of water-filtering beneficial bacteria.

Fish – The highlight of many ponds, fish add color and life to your decorative pond. They also, however, add waste and nutrients that can quickly accumulate and unbalance your pond. 1-inch of fish for every square foot of surface area is a rough guideline for maximum fish load. Keep in mind that your fish are continually growing. That means your 3 inch fish that were added last year are now 4-6 inch fish which more than doubles the waste that needs to be filtered. The more fish you have and the frequency at which you feed them plays a large role in how much filtration you will need to remove this additional waste.

PlantsAquatic Plants are an enormous natural boon to your water garden or fish pond. Not only do they provide habitat for your fish, maintaining 40-60% plant coverage shades your pond and prevents dramatic increases in water temperature on sunny days. Plants also provide additional natural filtration as they extract nutrients from the water added by organic debris and fish waste.

Aeration – Proper aeration is another key factor for pond maintenance. An aeration kit like the Pond Logic® PondAir™ or KoiAir™ will provide extra circulation to keep debris from accumulating at the bottom of the pond while increasing oxygen levels for your fish and water-filtering aerobic bacteria.

Natural Pond Treatments – Natural products like those contained in the Pond Logic® DefensePAC® will greatly increase water quality by boosting aerobic bacteria counts, binding up phosphates from organic material and eliminating organic debris.

Including each of these key pond elements in your water garden or fish pond greatly reduces stress and guesswork associated with a troublesome unbalanced pond. Simply put, a stable ecosystem means less work on your part. If a problem does arise, you can then pinpoint and adjust whichever element above that is throwing your pond out of balance.

Pond Talk: Is your pond balanced? If not, have you discovered which of the key elements is missing or lacking?

Pond Filtration Media

How many and what type of plants should I have in my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

How many and what type of plants should I have in my pond?

Q: How many and what type of plants should I have in my pond?
Bryce – Myrtle Beach, SC

If you’re a person – and we’re going out on a limb here to assume you are – you understand the importance of eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins. Variety, it seems, is more than just the spice of life. Like you, your water garden thrives on variety – in the form of a carefully selected mix of aquatic plants. But just as overeating is harmful to you, over-planting spells trouble for your pond. So, whether you’re dining or planting, it pays to be prudent.

Ideal plant coverage is around 60% of your featured surface – this allows for enough nutrient absorption to help prevent algae from gaining a foothold in your pond. There are many types of water plants to choose from – bog plants, marginal plants, lilies, floating and submerged plants – and frankly, we recommend that you try and use them all because each type of plant brings a little something different to the water table if you get our drift.

For instance, submerged plants, like Hornwort or Anacharis, are oxygenators, providing critical support to a pond’s eco-system by supplementing the water with oxygen, while floating plants, like the water hyacinth, provide shade that cools the water and cover under which fish can hide.

Our customers have found The Pond Guy® Choice Hardy Water Lilies, make lovely additions to their ponds. Position the root of the plant in a container of Microbe-Lift® Aquatic Planting Media, and locate the water lily so that its floating leaves are away from any splashing water for best results.

Blue Flag Iris, Water Hibiscus and Bog Bean are all lovely examples of bog plants that can be placed around the shallow edges of your pond for both aesthetic and ecological reasons. To keep your water garden in healthy, we suggest you treat your plants once a year to such products as the Laguna Temperature Activated Aquatic Plant Fertilizer Spikes or the nitrate and phosphate free supplement Bloom & Grow™, formulated specifically for aquatic plants.

There’s no doubt about it: variety is the spice of life. It’s also the sign of a healthy, well-cared for pond.

Pond Talk: What types of plants do you have in your pond?

The Pond Guy® Choice Hardy Water Lilies

I think I spotted some eggs in my pond, do I need to do anything with them? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I think I spotted some eggs in my pond, do I need to do anything with them?

I think I spotted some eggs in my pond, do I need to do anything with them?
Kathie- Walnut, CA

If you have koi fish in your pond, there’s a distinct possibility you may be right. If you don’t, we may have a mystery on our hands.

For the purposes of identification, koi eggs are about the size of small beads – or small pinheads. Their color can range from milky white to greenish brown, and you’ll often be able to see black dots – which are developing koi eyes – inside them.

Fortunately, by the time you’ve identified the eggs, Mother Nature is already on the job. But, as a good steward to the future koi of America, you might consider adding some Aquatic Plants to the pond to provide good hiding spots for the fry. With everything from floating plants to pond flowers to submerged oxygenating plants, we have plenty of choices to keep your kiddie koi safe from predators – until they’re ready to make it on their own. For an added measure of protection, consider our Koi Shelters, which provide safe havens for koi of all sizes.

Koi eggs generally hatch within a week. So, within a few days from your first sighting, you’ll be graced with an abundance of koi fry. When they’re first hatched, koi fry can’t swim – so they attach themselves to the sides of the pond to grow. Within three or four days, your koi fry will begin to swim.

While it might be tempting to give your fry a welcome feast, there’s no need. During the first stages of their development, your koi will find sufficient natural food in the pond. By the time they’re approximately three to four weeks old, the koi fry should be between ¼” and ½’ long – and they’ll still be capable of finding sufficient natural food in the pond.

After two to three months, your fry will have reached between 2” and 3” in length. They’ll continue to grow until they’re between fifteen and twenty years old – so they’re just getting started. And with an average lifespan of approximately fifty years, you’ll have plenty of time to appreciate your koi, and the generations of offspring they’re sure to produce.

Pond Talk: Have you had the opportunity to see new koi in your pond?

Aquatic Plants

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