When you install a water garden or pond, you’ll be creating a wonderful and complex natural milieu where plants are not only beautiful to look at, they play an integral role in the health of the pond. The world of aquatic plants is fascinating. What could be more attractive than an open water lily surrounded by floating leaves on the calm surface of a garden pond?

Extremely useful flowers

Aquatic plants play an indispensable role in your pond's ecosystem. Without them, the water would not be a source of life. They either complement mechanical filtration and aeration systems or replace them entirely. Typically, aquatic plants are divided into four main groups: floating plants, submerged or ozygenating plants, emergent plants (marginals), and water lilies. To obtain a healthy equilibrium in your water garden, we recommend that you include aquatic plants from each of the groups described below and in the ratio provided.

Aquatic plants serve many functions in a water garden:

  • They make your pond not only look natural, they transform a pond into a living organism.
  • They provide aesthetic continuity, integrating the pond into the fabric of the garden.
  • They are essential to the pond's ecological equilibrium:
    • They provide shade, maintaining cooler water temperatures.
    • They oxygenate the water.
    • They purify and clarify the water.
    • They provide nourishment and shelter for microscopic life forms that nourish fish and serve other essential functions.
  • They camouflage the artificial elements of the pond – liner, pipes, light sources.

Perfect Balance

Your water feature should include plants from the four groups: each group plays an essential role in maintaining a healthy equilibrium.

Floating plants

These plants float on the surface of the water while their roots hang down into the water. Most plants in this category are tropical and should be treated like annuals. They shade the water and keep it cool. Use them early in the season when your water lilies, such as Water Hyacinths, are just beginning to grow.

Use:

  • Purify the water;
  • Provide shade and conserve oxygen;
  • Give protection to minnows.

Planting and fertilizing:

Floating plants don't need planting or fertilizing, simply place them on the water. Ratio: 2 per 1.5 sq meters

Submerged or oxygenating plants

Submerged plants are pond essentials. They are completely submerged, and their roots can be either at the bottom or floating. Certain plant varieties float between the surface and the bottom, while others take root on the bottom. Either way, they oxygenate and purify your water as well as provide food and shelter for both microscopic organisms and fish.

Example: Elodea.

Use:

  • Oxygenate the water;
  • Purify the water;
  • Feed the fish.

Planting and fertilizing:

Submerged plants are placed in specially designed baskets at the bottom of the pond. The baskets make it easier to clean the pond and maintain the plants. Ratio: 4 per sq meter

They mostly live off mineral elements in the pond. If you see that a plant is not doing well, a dose of aquatic plant fertilizer should be sufficient.

Emergent plants

The roots of emergent plants may be in the soil or in a pot. Most stems, leaves and flowers emerge from the water. This highly diversified group, also called ‘moist area plants’, include paludal plants that grow out of the water, swamp plants, which always have their feet wet, and littoral plants, which grow on land surrounding a body of water and appreciate damp soil but not standing water. These plants not only give your aquatic garden a magnificent, natural look, but also attract birds, frogs, toads and insects.

Examples: Flowering Rush, Pickerel Weed, ‘Chameleon’ Plant.

Use:

  • Offer some shade
  • Purify the water by means of the bacterial colonies they support;
  • Act as a buffer-zone between the pond and garden flowerbeds;
  • Provide a home to minnows, frogs, toads and aquatic birds;
  • Integrate your water garden into your landscape.

Planting and fertilizing:

Place emergent plants in baskets and paludal plants in pots in the shallow end of the pond. Place swamp and littoral plants at the water's edge or just beyond it, respectively.

Aquatic plants in submerged baskets do best with soil specifically designed for them. Ratio: variable. Plant as needed.

They live off mineral elements in the water. If you see that a plant is not doing well, a dose of aquatic plant fertilizer should be sufficient.

Water Lilies

These are pond essentials. Also called Floating leaf plants. Roots are at the bottom or in pots placed at the bottom. Leaves float on the water surface, as do their flowers.

Example: ‘Attraction’ Water Lily.

Use:

  • Provide shade and conserve oxygen
  • Purify the water
  • Protect fish;
  • Beautify the pond with their spectacular flowers

Planting and fertilizing:

Water lilies are placed in specially designed baskets at the bottom of the pond. The baskets make it easier to clean the pond and maintain the plants. Ratio: 1 per 2 sq meter

Water lilies are particular about their fertilizer. They need annual fertilizing with a special fertilizer.

Skills

When you decide to install and nurture an aquatic garden, you will need to respect certain planting, fertilizing and maintenance rules in order to avoid using chemical water clarifiers. Fish also require specialized care since they are extremely sensitive to water quality.

  • Golden Rule: in order to balance the pond ecosystem, you should cover 1/3 of the water surface with plants and leave 2/3 open.
  • Place flat stones around the perimeter of the pond to combine with your emergent plants for a natural look.
  • You can conceal any clutter on the bottom of your pond with stones or pebbles.
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