Choosing pond plants is an essential and exciting stage in setting up your new garden pond. The process of choosing the right plants can be a little overwhelming, especially if this is your first pond, so we’re here to demystify the process for you.
Why Do I Need Pond Plants?
Aquatic plants bring a great range of benefits to your garden pond. From a purely aesthetic perspective, plantlife greatly enhances the natural beauty of your pond by adding colour, texture and attractive foliage. But the benefits of pond plants go far beyond aesthetics; they help keep your pond water clear and algae-free through reducing water light levels, they provide homes, breeding opportunities and shelter for wildlife and pond fish and they oxygenate your water to keep pond life healthy.
All you have to do is pick the right plants to suit your pond. Here’s how:
Choosing Pond Plants: Things to Consider
Several factors will affect which plants you choose for your pond. Make sure you take the following into consideration before choosing your plants:
Pond size, Depth and Position
The size of your pond has a big effect on how you should choose and arrange your plantlife. It may sound strange, but the ecosystems of smaller ponds are actually slightly harder to maintain than those of larger ponds. This is because they tend to be shallower, making them more prone to drying out or fluctuating in temperature, which in turn can harm your plantlife and wildlife. Smaller ponds also provide less room for plant growth, so they have to be carefully maintained.
However, if you don’t overcrowd your pond with plants you can still create a thriving ecosystem with a little care and attention. The larger and deeper your pond, the more varieties of plants you will be able to introduce, so this is worth taking into account if you have yet to build your pond.
The position of your pond also affects which plants you should choose and where you plant them. If your pond is in a shady spot (under a tree for example) then it won’t get as much light, which means you won’t need to worry so much about preventing algae blooms with larger pond plants. If, however, your pond will be in direct sunlight for most of the day, you will need to choose plants that will reduce light levels in the water.
If your pond will be stocked with fish you need to ensure you pick the right plants and position them in the right way. Fish need plant life for shelter and hiding places, however they also need room to come to the surface, so you will need to strike a balance between clear and planted spaces. Some types of fish also eat certain types of plantlife, so you need to research which types of plants your fish eat to ensure they have what they need.
Don’t forget to also check that the type of planting compost you are using is pond-friendly, as some types may cause pollution which will harm your fish.
Types of Pond Plants & Where to Place Them
Now that you have a good idea of the planting conditions you have to work with, you can start choosing your pond plants. Here are the main types of pond plants and where they should be placed in your pond:
Bog Plants – Zone 1
Examples: Water Iris, Cotton Grass, Water Clover
Where to Plant: Bog plants are moisture loving plants that can’t grow in water but will thrive in the shallow muddy bank areas of ponds. Plant them right on the edges of your pond, being careful not to allow them to slide or fall into the water.
Marginal and Deep Marginal Plants – Zones 2 & 3
Examples: Rushes, water mint, Caltha
Where to Plant: Marginal plants grow around the shallow outer edge of the water and are usually planted in aquatic planting baskets. Tall marginal plants such as rushes and reeds should be planted along the back edge so as not to obscure the view of your pond, while smaller, flowering marginal plants should be placed towards the front for maximum effect.
Water Lilies and Deep Water Plants – Zone 4
Examples: Nymphaea Mrs Richmond, Nymphaea Gonnere, Water Hyacinth
Where to Plant: These should be placed in the deepest regions of your pond, and need large planting baskets to allow room to grow and plenty of nutrition. If you’re planting lilies you will need to place younger plants in slightly shallower regions to begin with, and it is best to avoid adding young plants to established koi ponds, as the fish will destroy the plant before it has time to mature.
Oxygenating and Underwater Plants – Zones 2 to 5
Examples: Lagarosiphon Major, Water Violet, Water Starwort
Where to Plant: Most oxygenating plants thrive when planted fully submerged, so these can be placed anywhere that is deep enough for the plant to sit below the waterline. Oxygenating plants are known for their rapid growth, so avoid planting too many or your pond will become overrun.
Floating Plants – Zone 6
Examples: Water Lettuce, Water Chestnuts, Water Soldiers
Where to Plant: As their name suggests, floating plants are not anchored in pots and free-float across the surface of your pond with their roots dangling in the water. As they are great for sheltering the water and your fish from sunlight, try and place them in the sunniest spots of your pond. It is generally recommended that a third of your pond’s surface area should be covered with floating plants to prevent algae growth, though this can vary depending on the size and depth of your pond.
Once you’ve chosen your plants it’s time to add them to your pond. Check out our range of pond planting equipment including pond baskets, plant holders and aquatic compost.