Pond plants are essential to achieve the correct water balance and provide surface cover in your garden pond. They provide shade from the sunlight that would otherwise assist in the growth of algae as well as releasing oxygen during sunlight hours through the process of photosynthesis.
Without them, your water will become very unhealthy, algae will grow at an alarmingly speed and will seriously affect the health and care of your garden fish. Plants help filter your water by converting fish waste into plant food. Plant leaves absorb carbon dioxide and minerals from the water which ‘starves’ the algae. Approximately half of the pond’s water surface should be covered with foliage to achieve this balance.
It is recommended that you get specialist advice when choosing plants to suit your particular pond size, specialist pond containers and special pH-balanced pond soil. Never use ordinary garden soil, or plant directly in soil spread on the bottom of the pond.
There are several groups of plants you can grow in or around a garden fish pond which are:-
These are essential plants for keeping the pond healthy. Some are rooted, but most simply float in the water, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen as they grow. Bubbles of oxygen can be observed coming from the leaves of these plants. Since they multiply fairly rapidly, start with a few small clumps and be prepared to cull the plants as they spread out. The most effective way of doing this is to use a garden rake and transfer them to your compost heap. Examples of oxygenators are Hornwort, Water Milfoil and Water Starwort.
These are deep water plants, planted in containers and placed on the bottom of the pond. They produce leaves and beautiful flowers on the surface during the summer months. There are many different varieties of water lily. Never over plant water lilies as they grow very quickly and can soon swamp a small pond. Always top these containers with gravel to stop fish from disturbing the soil and discolouring the water.
These are planted in containers set in shallow water on shelves around the pond edges. These include various species of Iris, Flag, Marsh Marigold and the Arrow Head. Also cattails, grasses and reeds are examples of marginals.
These are plants such as Fairy Moss, Greater Bladderwort and Water Soldier which are flowering plants that just float on the pond. The Water Soldier sinks to the bottom during the winter months. Other examples include Water Hyacinths and Water Lettuce.
These are plants such as Bullrushes which can be planted at the edgesof the pond, if the liner is extended and filled with soil to create waterlogged boggy conditions.
Getting the planting right – balancing oxygenators, floaters, marginals and deep water plants, producing a stunning display to complement the garden landscape can seem a daunting task, however, it doesn’t have to be. With a little thought, an effective and impressive pond planting scheme can be very easy to achieve. Bear in mind that aquatic plants do get bigger so don’t over-plant your pond.
Here is a quick calculation method for deciding how many pond plants to add to your pond. For each square metre of surface (10 square feet) you should purchase,
2 bunches of oxygenating plants
1 Water lily
1 Bog plant
If you are adding plants to a newly built pond, you should add them prior to the installation of any pond pumps and filters.
Obviously you would combine plants into areas and not space them according to this method of calculation.
Pond plants will help create a beautiful pond appearance and give your garden fish pond the finished look that you are striving for, not to mention keeping your garden fish happy and healthy.