Basic Groupings of Aquatic Plants
The world of aquatic plants is made up of many varying and distinct plant types. To make your water gardening task easy and enjoyable, we've broken pond plants into six groups, based on common usage in the water garden.
A common sight in most any water garden, water lilies are the flagship plants of the water garden and are available in a variety of colors and sizes. Tropical lilies are considered an annual by most, but much like terrestrial annuals, they provide more vibrant colors and fragrances than hardy water lilies.
Often mistakenly thought to be difficult to grow, these are the most striking members of the water garden plants, producing large, full blooms.
By far the largest group of aquatic plants, marginals are plants that typically grow at the edges or "margins" of a pond. These also do well in bog gardens. Much like lilies, many tropical marginals will provide extraordinary colors not seen in most hardy marginals. Treat them like annuals and replace each year.
Water Lily-like Plants
As the name suggests, this fun little group of plants has similar characteristics to water lilies ... floating leaves and flowers. But that's where the similarity ends.
This group of plants floats with their roots dangling beneath the plant. They derive all their nutrients from the water.
Living almost entirely underwater, submerged aquatics are commonly referred to as oxygenators.
Design & Placement
When choosing plants for your water feature, use the same principles when you design your landscape gardens. Mix plant heights, textures, and colors for visual impact. Be sure to include plants from at least three of the various groupings (water lilies, lotus, marginals, floating-leaved, water lily-like, and submerged) for the most natural look. Random placement of the plants will give the pond a complete, yet unstructured look. When in doubt, consult your installer or garden center. For best algae control results, shade 50%-65% of the pond's surface area with assorted plants. Lilies are most effective at shading, while marginals and floaters do a great job of using the nutrients that would normally feed algae.
Caring for Aquatics
Aquatic plants can be kept in aquatic baskets, set into "pockets" in the pond, or tucked into rocks. Just like bedding plants or perennials, various aquatic plants thrive better in certain planting scenarios.
Be sure to check with your garden center or installer to make sure you have the correct planting information for your aquatic plant choices. When purchasing an aquatic plant, always plan to re-pot that plant into a larger container unless you're planting them directly into the pond. Aquascape plants are grown in 5" and 8" plant baskets. Replant these using Aquascape's Aquatic Pond Planting Media, planting baskets, or aquatic containers and Aquascape's Fertilizer tabs before placing them in the pond. You can also choose to remove the plant from its original growing container and place directly into the pond's bottom or shelves. Either way, you'll be ensured a healthier, fuller, more beautiful plant in your pond.
If you want the best from your aquatic plants, you have to feed them on a regular basis. While marginal plants and lotuses need to be fed every 8-12 weeks, lilies need to be fed every 2-3 weeks in order to enjoy the most consistent array of blooms. Use Aquascape Plant Fertilizer for best results. Simply insert the tabs 1-2" into the soil, being careful not to place them too close to the roots, thereby avoiding root burn.
To keep your water feature looking fresh and healthy, remove yellowing or dead leaves from plant growth. Not only will your pond look more manicured, but you'll keep the dead plant material from decaying in the water.
Easy to Grow!
If you can grow crabgrass and dandelions successfully, then you can grow aquatic plants too. Growing aquatic plants is so simple there's only one thing to remember ... green side up and brown side down. In other words, the foliage end of the plant points up towards the sky, while the roots go down into the soil or gravel substrate. Growing beautiful plants is that easy and only requires the following:
Full sun (some will tolerate shade)
Good, heavy soil (Aquascape's Aquatic Planting Media)
Supplemental fertilizer (Aquascape's EcoTabs™)
And ... green side up, brown side down
Aquatic plants are not only beautiful to behold, but they provide a necessary function in maintaining a healthy ecosystem in the water garden. They remove nutrients from the water that would otherwise feed algae. They also provide shade, food, and protection for the fish and wildlife that inhabit your pond.
A variety of pond plants are available for you to create interesting focal points within your water garden. A cluster of water lilies provide striking pops of colors at the water's surface, while flowering marginals add texture, color, and depth to the pond's edge. Your fish will appreciate the shelter and nutrition that submerged plants provide. When planning your design scheme for aquatic plants, remember that variety is the spice of pond life!