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 Planting Baskets 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 TetraPond® LilyGro™ 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?