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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

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

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

How do I divide my bog plants? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

How do I divide my bog plants?

How do I divide my bog plants?
Andrew – Phoenix, AZ

It’s a good question – and one that requires a bit of background before we get down to the answer.

Let’s start at the beginning: why do we want bog plants in the first place? At the risk of stating the obvious, it’s pretty simple. First, the right mixture of bog plants look downright beautiful, adding color, texture and interest to any backyard water garden. Second, bog plants are vital to a healthy pond ecosystem. They produce oxygen, thrive on fish waste and other organic matter, and provide foolproof hiding places for fish to evade predators. Finally, bog plants deliver lots of satisfaction – with very little effort. They’re tremendously forgiving, they often grow quickly, and they’re the key to transforming a quiet pond into a vibrant backyard vista.

But too much of a good thing, is, well, too much – whether you’re talking about dessert, out of town guests, and yes, even bog plants. Which conveniently brings us to question number two: why divide bog plants in the first place? The answer lies in one of their finest attributes: they’re hearty – and they love to grow. When left unchecked, some varieties of bog plants can literally take over a pond, blocking light and turning the water body into a floating jungle, unfit for fish, fowl and other beneficial plants. So, rather than allowing your most opportunistic bog plants to take over, we strongly encourage our customers to divide them, leaving just enough to ensure healthy growth.

Determining when to divide your plants is fairly straightforward. If plants begin to outgrow the pot in which they’re planted, the odds are good they need some breathing room. Rootbound bog plants don’t perform as well as those with room to stretch out their rhizomes, and they often show their dissatisfaction by producing more leaves – and fewer buds and flowers.

And with that, we’ve arrived at the sixty-four thousand dollar question at the top of the blog: exactly how does one successfully divide the bog plants in a water garden? Roll up your pantlegs, grab a few supplies, and we’ll walk you through it, step by step:

Step One: Identify the plants you’re planning to separate, and remove them from the pond. This step requires some judgment, depending on the means used to contain the plants in the first place. If they’re in floating planters, simply bring the planter to shore. If they’re rooted beneath the surface in a submersible planter – or without any planter at all – you may need to get your feet and/or arms wet. Take proper precautions, make sure there’s help nearby, and make a splash.

Step Two: Separate the roots. Once you have your target plant on shore, take some time — and abundant care – and gently separate the root cluster to divide the portion of the plant you’ll put back from the portion that’s moving out.

Step Three: Replant the selected portion of the plant. Since you’re making the effort to maintain your water garden, this is a good time to consider using our Laguna Submersible Pond Planters or our Floating Island Pond & Water Garden Planters. These innovative planters help to contain your plants, making them much easier to maintain. And when you replant, be sure to line your plant baskets and floating planters with Microbe-Lift Aquatic Planting Media. This innovative media includes beneficial bacteria to help keep the pond clear without promoting algae growth, while absorbing excess alkalinity to enhance overall water quality. The media also helps to reduce transplant shock, which significantly improves transplant success.

Step Four: Fertilize. To further enhance the odds of a successful transplant, we strongly recommend our Laguna Temperature Activated Aquatic Plant Fertilizer Spikes and our Tetra Pond Lily Grow Aquatic Plant Food Fertilizer Tablets. Scientifically formulated to produce stronger, more vibrant plants, both products are low in phosphorous, and have no adverse effect on water quality or fish health.

Step Five: Reuse the leftovers. Once you’ve divided your plants, you’ll probably be reluctant to throw them on the compost heap. Instead, consider planting some of the excess roots in a floating planter for added surface coverage. Or, if you’d prefer to add a little life elsewhere around your home, simply plant some of the remaining roots in a regular pot or planter to brighten up the porch, the patio, or even the living room.

Give your green thumb a whirl. You’ll be glad you did.

Pond Talk: Do you make it a normal practice to divide your plants every year?

Laguna Temperature Activated Aquatic Plant Fertilizer Spikes

Planting Aquatic Plants – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Picture of a Mayla Water Lily

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: I would like to order plants for my water garden this year, but I don’t know where to begin. What plants should I get and how do I plant them? – Kayla of Florida

A: The simplest and easiest way to select the right variety of aquatic plants is to purchase one of our plant packages. Our plant packages come in multiple sizes with an assortment of beautiful aquatic plants (shipped bare root) that are recommended for great coverage. What kinds of aquatic plants are there? What should I get for my water feature? These are very legitimate questions. There are many different categories of aquatic plants with many species in each category:

Floating - Floating plants such as water hyacinth & water lettuce are best used to absorb excess nutrients that cause excessive algae growth. They also provide shade and cover for the fish.

Submerged - Submerged plants are fantastic oxygenators. They are also used to absorb nutrients, so there is no need to fertilize them.

Bog - You can add a nice touch to your water feature using bog plants. Bog plants are planted around the edges of the pond in shallow water areas. They also act as a visual anchor to the surrounding feature. Bog plants are perennials, meaning that they will grow back every year based on your zone.

Hardy Water Lilies - Hardy water lilies are perennials. They will bloom all summer long on the water surface. Hardy water lilies have smooth waxy leaves that are rounded at the edge.

Tropical Water Lilies - Tropical water lilies have very fragrant blossoms and will have several blooms at a time. These lilies come in daytime and nighttime blooming varieties. Tropical water lilies will be jagged or pointed around the edge of the leaves.

Hardy Water Lotuses - Hardy water lotuses have very large blooms and leaves that can stand out of the water from two to five feet depending on the variety. A hardy water lotus may take up to two years to become fully established.

So why are aquatic plants so important? In a water feature, plants are absolutely vital in balancing the ecosystem, and they offer an aesthetic touch to your landscape. If you ever wonder what causes algae to grow or why your pond isn’t clear, there are really only four factors to consider:

  • Not enough filtration
  • Too many fish
  • Not enough aquatic plants
  • Not using DefensePAC® (natural bacteria)

The recommendation for aquatic plant coverage is 60% of your overall water feature surface. This will provide enough absorption of nutrients to help combat algae before it has a chance to grow.

Now that I know aquatic plants are important, how do I plant them? That’s a great question. Here is the rundown:

Floating - Floating plants do not need to be planted. Simply toss plants onto the surface of the water or place inside a Waterfall Filter unit for added filtration and to prevent vigorous spreading. This will also help to hide the Waterfall Filter.

Submerged - Submerged plants may free-float throughout your water feature. If your water feature is equipped with a skimmer, you may want to wrap a weight around the base of the plant before tossing it in to prevent the skimmer from pulling in the plant.

Bog - Simply create pockets and crevices 6-8″ in depth between the gravel and boulders. Remove the marginal plant from its pot, move gravel aside, place the plant and then spread the gravel around the base of the plant for support.

Hardy & Tropical Water Lilies - Prepare lily pockets by making indentations within your first or second shelf (12″ to 18″ in depth). Place the lily tuber in the lily pocket and fill
with aquatic planting media (remember to not cover the crown, a.k.a. growing tip of the lily). Finally, spread loose gravel around the
base of the lily to prevent the soil from being stirred up.

Hardy Water Lotuses - Hardy water lotuses are usually potted in wide, shallow containers because of their aggressive behavior. Hard water lotuses should be planted in a round container at least 18″ in diameter with 6″ of depth. It must be round, because square pots can cause lotuses to die when the tuber gets crunched into a corner during heavy growth seasons. Gently place the tuber into at least 3″ of soil. Fill the rest of the container up to the brim with with gravel and place 10-12″ deep within the pond depending on variety.

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