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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

Do I Need To Fertilize My Plants And If I Do Will It Encourage Algae Growth? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Do I need to fertilize my plants and if I do will it encourage algae growth?

Do I need to fertilize my plants and if I do will it encourage algae growth? Ben – Shelley, ID

Here We Grow Again

Behind the scenes your Aquatic Plants are working hard to filter nutrients from the water in your pond, provide shelter for its residents, and keep algae blooms to a minimum. While this may seem impressive to some, it is hard for most pond owner to get excited about aquatic plants unless they can do all of this work while looking good. Whoever coined the phrase “Looks aren’t everything” obviously never owned a water garden.

If your aquatic plants are failing to impress you can use some plant fertilizer to give them the boost they need to ensure your pond has more buds and less duds this season. The type of fertilizer you use will depend on the type of plants in your pond and how they are implemented.

Liquid fertilizers like Microbe-Lift Bloom & Grow are mixed directly into your pond water, providing a readily available food source throughout the entire pond. This type of application is great for ponds with an abundance of scattered plants, Floating Plants, and plants that are in areas lacking Planting Media.

Concentrated fertilizers like TetraPond LilyGro Tablets and Laguna Fertilizer Pond Spikes are used for potted plants or plants with roots planted in media. Simply push these fertilizers into the planting media and they will gradually release nutrients that your plants. When you are using concentrated fertilizers in your pond, carefully read the directions for each individual product for specific application instructions and warnings. For example, when using LilyGro tablets you will want to place them about 3” away from the crown of the plant to ensure the fertilizer does not burn the roots or stem.

The amount of fertilizer you need and intervals at which you re-apply them will depend on which type you are using and variable factors such as average water temperatures and how many plants are in the pond. Applications can range from once a season to ever 2-4 weeks. Whichever type or brand of fertilizer you use in your pond make sure it is low in or completely free of phosphates which can encourage algae growth. Microbe-Lift Bloom & Grow is an entirely phosphate free product.

Fertilizing your plants will encourage increased growth and color in healthy plants to push them to perform at their best. Fertilizers will not be an effective substitute for gardening know how. If your plants are constantly dieing make sure they are being planted in the right Temperature Zone and are being used in the correct applications. Bog Plants like Dwarf Cattails for example should not be entirely submerged in your pond, tropical plants like Antares should not be planted in cold climates and so on.

Do some homework, read the descriptions and text included with your plants and fertilizers to ensure you select the correct products for you unique water gardening scenario. Once your aquatic plants are established and growing, you can then decide if you need fertilizer to give them a kick in the bud to bloom at their best.

Pond Talk:What aquatic plants do you use in your pond and which types of fertilizers do you use for them?

Fertilizer Pond Spikes

Using Water Hyacinth in Water Gardens – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Picture of a Water Hyacinth.

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: I’ve had many people tell me to add water hyacinth to my water garden. I heard they spread like wildfire and can take over my water garden. What’s so great about them? – Tiffany of West Virginia

A: Water hyacinth, especially in water gardens, are a useful tool when trying to create a balanced ecosystem. Water hyacinth are simple to use and perform many functions in a water garden such as: great for filtration, compete with algae for nutrients and provides shade and shelter. I know many of our readers may not agree with this so let’s explain some of the cons first.

Many southern states have restricted water hyacinth because of its aggressive growth. They clog waterways and choke out native plants. In these areas other plant types can be used. Bogs can be planted with marginal/bog plants to maintain the water body that are not as aggressive. Water lilies can be utilized for shelter and shade. If you are in the northern climates, water hyacinth still spread quickly but they cannot survive the cold harsh winter.

So Why Use Water Hyacinth Anyway?

  • Easy to Plant: Water hyacinth are one of the most simple plants to add to your water garden. Simply drop them in and enjoy. You can place them in your waterfall filter, calm areas in the pond or any place where there is at least a few inches of water.
  • Shelter: Water hyacinth float on the water’s surface covering the pond and shading it from the sun keeping the water cooler. The root systems also provide hiding places for your baby fish as well as cover in general against predators.
  • Filtration Capacity: Water hyacinth have large root systems that can stretch 10 or more inches. Each of these individual roots have thousands of root hairs which increase the roots surface area. We know from our filter systems that the main reason they work so well is the large amount of surface area for bacteria to grow on. Multiply that by numerous water hyacinth and you have instantly doubled or even tripled your filtration capacity.
  • Compete with Algae: Since water hyacinth are prolific growers, they compete with algae for the same food source, thus keeping your water garden balanced and looking good all year.
  • Looks: Water hyacinth are nice too look at. Foliage is green all season and purple flowers form through out the year as well.
  • Easy to Remove: If water hyacinth get out of control in your water garden, don’t worry, they are extremely easy to remove with a pond net.

With so many benefits, in the right conditions, water hyacinth are a great renewable resource.

POND TALK: Do you plant water hyacinth in your water garden? Tell us what you think about water hyacinth.

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