Plants For Your Water Garden

Water Gardening can be as simple or as complex as you want. The simple water garden is good for the small pond, and more complex water gardening is best reserved for the large water garden. The most obvious reason is space, which will define how much diversity a pond can contain and sustain. If you’re a beginner, I would suggest keeping it simple to start with so you can get a good idea of how your plants will develop and the space they need. It is easy to expand later on after you grasp the basics.

There are six categories of water plants that you should familiarize yourself with. These are: Submerged Plants and Oxygenators, Floating Water Plants, Water Lilies, Marginals, Water-Lily-Like Plants, and Lotuses.

Hardy Water Lily

In keeping with the simple and easy water garden, we will focus on three of these categories. You can add from the other categories as space and your expertise accumulates.

Water Lilies. I have chosen this category first because of their visual impact. Water Lilies are among the favorites of water gardeners and you should think about including them in your garden as well. Water Lilies are broken down into two groups: hardy and tropical. Hardy water lilies survive cold climates and winter well where as tropicals must have special care to keep from freezing. You can tell them apart because of their leaves, hardy ones have smooth edges on their leaves and tropicals have a crinkled appearance. Also hardy lily blooms open during the day and close at night while most tropical ones open at night and close again in the early to mid morning hours. Tropicals also have a stronger scent then the hardy variety. Most water lilies grow in 3 to 4 foot depths, but they do quite well in ponds with only 6 to 18 inches of water. If you live in a climate that often freezes your ponds surface during the winter, plant your lilies below the level of the ice. This will protect their roots from freezing and allow them to flourish again in the spring. Also, if freezing is the issue, use water lilies from the hardy variety. Since water lilies from both groups offer a wide selection of color, you can easily find the plants you want without sacrifice.Floating Water Plant, Eichhornia Crassipes

Floating Water Plants. Floating water plants are those that sit on the surface with no need of having their roots in soil to get their nutrients. Their roots simply dangle beneath them and collect nitrogen and phosphates from the water that could otherwise cause an algae bloom. These are extremely easy to grow plants, and some even have blue blooms. Although some are winter hardy, most are not. They are the cheapest of all water plants to have so treat them as annuals. Since they are rich in nitrogen and phosphates, (which they extract from the water), you can add them to your compost pile and make great natural fertilizer for the rest of your garden. They are prolific growers and can take over you pond quickly, so you will want to thin them out in mid season and as often as needed.

Water-Lily-Like Plant, Ranunculus aquatilisWater-Lily-Like Plants. These plants grow in soil from 1 inch to 2 feet below the water surface. They grow with their leaves and blossoms on the surface like lilies but are botanically different, so they are classified differently. Examples are Hawthorn and Frogbit. These plants also have wonderful blooms and will add contrast and variety to your water garden.

Water plants are easy to plant. You will need containers for your lily and lily-like water plants and your floating water plants need nothing at all. Also, if you intend to add fish to your pond, it is a good idea to cover the soil in your containers with small river stone or a simple wire or nylon mesh (1 inch chicken wire or bird wire works well). This will prevent the fish from digging in your containers to get at the plant roots (which they love to eat). Water plants are easy to take care of as well; usually just a little thinning out is all that is required. An added benefit of water plants is that they reduce nitrogen and phosphates in the water and provide shade, all of which will reduce ugly green algae. Once the planting is done, your ready to start enjoying your water garden.

Water Gardening is easy and fun, and can provide your garden with beauty for years to come. Have fun with your home improvement projects.