A: Water lilies and lotus … blue flag iris … hyacinth … so many aquatic plants, so little time. A pond full of these colorful beauties – along with the hardworking, submerged oxygenators – adds splendor and life to your waterscape. Not only that, but birds will visit, bugs will buzz through and aquatic critters will stop by, attracted by the blooms and foliage.
Like your terrestrial garden, a water garden needs some planning and forethought; without it, you could end up with an aquatic jungle. Here's what we recommend for adding plants to your pond.
Before you get your feet wet (and your hands dirty!), first consider what types of plants you want in your water feature and how many you'll need.
Aquatic plants are typically categorized by their function in a pond. They include floating plants, like water hyacinth and water lettuce, that have roots that reach down from the water's surface; submerged plants, like vallisneria and hornwort, that live on the pond's bottom and release oxygen into the water; bog plants, like cattails and iris, that ring the perimeter of the pond; and water lilies and lotus, which provide dramatic surface color and underwater shade.
When browsing for plants, select a mixture of floating, submerged, bog and lilies/lotus, with the goal of covering about 60 percent of your water's surface. A sample plant shopping list for a 50-square-foot pond looks something like this:
- 6 to 12 floating plants
- Several submerged plants
- 2 bog plants
- 1 water lily
Don't forget to add
aquatic plant media, fertilizer and containers, like pots, plant bags, planting baskets and floating planters , to your list. You'll need them when you transplant and care for the new greenery. Speaking of which …
Once you've planned out and purchased your plants, it's time to move them in to your water garden. The different types of aquatic plants need to be handled differently:
- Artificial Aquatic Plants: Simply place these maintenance-free plants in the water. They will float freely or they can be weighted down. The best part about artificial plants is you don't have to worry about your fish eating them.
- Floating Plants: Simply place these easy-care plants in the water. They will float freely and take up nutrients through their root systems.
- Submerged Plants: Grow these underwater plants in plant bags or other planters. Fill your container with planting material, plant several bunches of them together and submerge into the desired section of your pond. Another option: Tie a bunch to a weight and drop it into the pond, using one bunch for every 2 square feet of surface area. Their roots will take up nutrients from the water.
- Bog Plants: Best grown in containers filled with aquatic plant media, bog plants like their roots wet. Position them around the edges of your pond in 6-inch-deep water, or inside your pond with a floating island planter.
- Water Lilies and Lotuses: These beauties thrive in pots, like those found in our Water Lily and Water Lotus Planting Kits. To transplant, fill your tub with clay and a clay/soil mix, and add some aquatic planting media on top. Position the tuber inside the soil with the growing tip pointed up. Submerge the pot so the plant's tip is 3 to 6 inches deep. Once the plant starts to grow and its leaves reach the water's surface, place the pot in a deeper area of your pond.
Feed for Growth
Your newly planted plants will need nutrients for beautiful blooms, so don't forget the fertilizer!
Tabs, like CrystalClear Thrive, feed aquatic plants throughout their growing season. The balanced nutrients in tabs encourage greenery and bloom production and should be added to the soil every 2-4 weeks for best results. Use one tablet to two tablets per gallon of potting soil, and push it deep into the media 3 inches from the crown of the plant. Pack the hole with dirt to prevent the fertilizer from being released into the water, and you're good until next month.