A pond is an essential part of the garden landscape, and plants transform their appearance as well as ensuring a healthy aquatic environment. Dan Everton, our Aquatics Supervisor, shares his thoughts on the best plants to use.
Plants are important to fully exploit the beneficial effects a pond should have on your garden while creating a varied and thriving aquatic habitat.
A new pond filled with tap water should be left for several days before stocking with plants and planting can start any time from April through until mid-August, perhaps earlier if the weather is favourable and the water has warmed.
With the exception of floating pond plants, they should all be potted up into specialist pond plant baskets, which have perforated sides, allowing water to penetrate the compost.
When planting, begin with aligning the pond basket with a hessian liner to prevent soil escaping. Aquatic compost should be always be used as a planting medium, and a Lily Grow Tablet can be used which contains fertilizer specifically designed for aquatic plants.
The compost should be top dressed with a layer of rounded gravel or pebbles, this will give the fish less chance to stir up the compost.
Purchased in bunches with a small weight attached and having little ornamental value, oxygenating plants are the most important in the pond. They produce oxygen during daylight and also provide food and shelter for your fish, a spawning medium and a refuge for fry.
However, make sure you do not have too many, the normal stocking rate is around one bunch for every two square feet of surface water area.
Floating plants are decorative and also restrict algae growth, they are simply placed on the surface and will happily flourish. Good examples of floating plants are the Water Soldier, Water Hyacinth and Water Chestnut.
Occupying shallow shelves and marshy areas around the edge of the pond, with leaves and stems above the surface of the water, are plants such as the Marsh Marigold, Water-Forget-Me-Not, Iris and Primula. They can also provide a refuge for fish and each one has specific planting depth that may differ by only a few centimetres.
Deep Water Plants
Plants in this category include the Water Hawthorn and Water Violet, but the most recognisable is the Water Lily.
Placed at the base of the pond with leaves extending to the surface. Check the preferred depth of individual species and, if when initially introduced to the pond, the leaves do not reach the surface, place bricks underneath the basket temporarily.
Not only are lilies highly decorative with wonderfully colourful flowers, the large leaves restrict algae from forming as they prevent sunlight from entering the water. Again, take note of the preferred depth as different varieties can be planted at between 18ins – 36ins.
For information on creating a pond, read our blog 'How To Build A Pond'.