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

Q: How do I divide my pond plants?

Q: How do I divide my pond plants?

Karen – Fort Worth, TX

A:  It’s that time of year, isn’t it? After a long winter’s nap, your aquatic plants are a great place to start flexing that green thumb of yours. Potted water lilies and bog plants will need to be divided, but how you do so will depend on the type of plants you have. In general, bog plants will need to be divided every one to two years, and water lilies will need to be divided every two to three years.

Here are simplified, step-by-step instructions for how to divide your aquatic plants. Pull out your waders, pruning tools, extra plant baskets, planting media and garden hose – and let’s get to work!

Divide Bog Plants
Bog plants include species like corkscrew rush, dwarf cattails and irises. Some have clumping roots, some have runners and some have rhizomes. Regardless of the type of root mass, here’s what to do with them:

  1. Lift the pot or container out of the pond and gently remove the root mass.
  2. Use your garden hose to wash the soil off of the root mass and trim any dead leaves and foliage.
  3. Divide the root mass depending on the type of root system.
    • Clumping Roots – Like corkscrew rush, separate the roots into sections, leave some roots intact with each section.
    • Runner Roots – Like dwarf cattails, cut the runner root and leave the root base with each section of the plant.
    • Rhizomes – Like irises, simply divide them into sections.
  4. Replant each section of plant in its own container and dispose of any plant overgrowth.

Divide Water Lilies
Water lilies – both tropical and the hardy variety sold in our Grower’s Choice collection – are also easy to divide. You’ll know it’s time to separate them when you notice fewer lily pads, reduced blooms or splitting pots.

  1. Lift the pot or container out of the pond, locate the tuber and gently remove it.
  2. Rinse off the soil, and trim away root growth and old foliage.
  3. Identify the crowns, or the little buds where a new lily pad group will sprout, and cut between them with a sharp knife. Keep the pieces 3 to 4 inches in length. Each one of these will become a new water lily plant.
  4. Using aquatic planting media, plant each section separately at a 45-degree angle so that the growing tip is still exposed above the soil.
  5. Place your repotted lilies in a shallow area of your pond where only a few inches of water cover the plants.
  6. Once new growth appears, move the lilies to the deeper areas of your pond.

Fertilize and Tend
After you divide and replant your aquatic plants, don’t forget to give them regular doses of fertilizer to ensure they’re getting the nutrients they need to thrive and produce vigorous blooms. Keep your colorful beauties looking good by keeping them trimmed and regularly removing dead foliage throughout the growing season.

Pond Talk: When you divide your aquatic plants, what do you do with your extra cuttings?

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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 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?

Laguna Temperature Activated Aquatic Plant Fertilizer Spikes