By Trey Pitsenberger, co-owner
The pond is built and the waterfall flowing now comes
one of the most satisfying aspects of having a pond,
adding the water plants. Most pond owners will be amazed
at the many plant varieties available for water gardening.
The choices range from the queen of the water garden,
the water lily, to graceful rushes and grasses. In addition
gardeners will rejoice, when unlike most plants that
need good drainage to survive the water plants can thrive
right in the water, with the roots completely submerged.
Water plants can be divided up into two main groups.
The first is the floating water plants. This group can
then be divided into two sub-groups; those with their
root anchored in soil, with the foliage floating on the
surface; and those whose roots dangle in the water like
the water hyacinth and water lettuce.
Since water lettuce cannot be sold anymore the water
hyacinth is the only commonly sold floater with roots
dangling. These easy to grow plants are valuable not
only for their beauty, but also because they’re
dangling roots help to absorb the nutrients in pond water
that cause algae bloom. You buy water hyacinths at the
garden center where they are put in a plastic bag for
the trip home. Simply remove them and place in the pond.
The rooted varieties of floaters include water lilies,
floating clover, and parrots feather. These plants, as
well as all the other types, except water hyacinth, are
sold in nursery cans that are filled with water. With
the floaters you can set the cans in one foot or more
of water, with the plants completely submerged. In a
couple of days the foliage will reach to the surface
and start spreading.
The second group of water plants would be the Marginal
or Bog plants. These plants tend to do best around the
edges of the pond, with the roots submerged, but the
foliage waving in the breeze. Set the can so the top
of the pot is submerged by as much as four to five inches
of water. Often ponds are built with a shelf around the
edge just for the purpose of placing the marginal water
plants. The marginal plants are important in a design
perspective as they help provide a smooth transition
from the pond to the rest of the garden landscape.
Some of the fun marginal water plants available are
water cannas, umbrella plant, both full size and dwarf,
marsh marigold with it’s pretty yellow spring blooms,
horsetail, water iris, cattail, dwarf cattail, and the
tiny cattail, which produces miniature cattail flowers
on a plant that only grows about a foot tall.
The majority of water plants grow and flower best in
full sun. If your pond is in the shady portion of the
garden, fear not, as quite a few water plants that will
grow in part sun to shade. Water forget-me-not, pickerel,
water calla lily, lizard’s tail, and Japanese arrowhead
are some of the shade loving plants that will grow and
even flower in the shade.
Water plants can be planted in special pockets that
are designed into the pond bottom. When installing the
liner it will dip into these plant pockets that are then
filled with aquatic soil in which the roots of the plant
are placed. The entire bottom of the pond is then layered
with small, smooth gravel, which will help prolong the
life of the liner as well as creating a natural look.
Plants will then be able to absorb nutrient that falls
into the pond naturally and filters to the bottom, through
the rocks into the root zone. If plants are left in the
containers and placed in the pond you should feed them
with aquatic plant food a couple of times a year. This
is in the form of tablets that are shoved into the soil
inside the can. They can feed for up to three months.
Water gardening is something that everyone can enjoy.
From an apartment deck with a tub garden, to a large
pond and waterfall, these beautiful features will enhance