Learn how pond plants can enhance the health and beauty of your pond or water garden.
The experts at That Fish Place have established this guide to help you understand and choose pond plants. Below you will find a wealth of information on the types of pond plants available for your water garden or pond, as well as what makes each kind desirable.
Do I Need Pond Plants?
Many aspiring pond owners ask this question as they begin in this fascinating hobby. Upon installing their ponds and appropriate filtration, owners question whether it is necessary to add some natural greenery. The answer to this question depends on your own personal preferences. Besides the aesthetic qualities of keeping aquatic plants, below are some of the advantages of adding live pond plants to your water garden or pond:
Water Cover: Koi and goldfish are coldwater species of fish. So, unless your pond has suitable shade from the hot summer sun, your pond can quickly reach temperatures unhealthy for your fish. In addition, lots of sun exposure can spark intense algae growth in your pond or water garden. Floating plants and water lilies can dramatically reduce light penetration into your pond, resulting in much less algae growth, and lower water temperatures.
Filtration: If keeping fish, you know how important it is to remove their nitrogenous wastes from your pond. Pond plants can help take some of the burden off your hard-working pond filter. These natural filters use fish waste to help grow, so keeping them is helpful to all of your pond's inhabitants.
Oxygenation: Active pond fish need lots of oxygen to thrive. Much of this oxygen is provided by gas exchange with the atmosphere. Surface agitation from moving pond water or a waterfall can greatly increase gas exchange, but pond plants also help add vital oxygen to your pond system through photosynthesis. This is particularly important in the summer when temperatures rise and fish become more active.
Types of Pond Plants
Submerged Pond Plants: As their name suggests, submerged pond plants live entirely underwater, sometimes with leaves that grow towards the top of the water. When added to a pond or water garden, these pond plants are generally potted and positioned one to two feet below water level, or may simply be placed into a shallow area of the pond. The most prolific and easily identifiable submersible pond plants are the water lilies. Water lilies are available in both hardy and tropical varieties, with the tropical species being more intensely colored and less cold tolerant then their hardy cousins. Other varieties of submersible pond plants are referred to as oxygenators, for their ability to add large quantities of oxygen to your pond's water. Oxygenators tend to be grassy-type submersible plants, such as elodea (anacharis) or hornwort and do not need to be potted. With the exception of tropical varieties, submersible pond plants generally do well in most climates and can be wintered inside ponds in colder temperatures. Some examples of submersible pond plants are:
Water lily (Hardy and Tropical)
Marginal Pond Plants: Also known as bog plants, marginal plants are those that live with their roots below water, but the majority of the plant is above the surface. In a pond or water garden, these plants are placed with their pots barely submerged. Probably the most extensive category of pond plants, the majority of species available to hobbyists fall into this category. Many species feature bright colored flowers and lush foliage. These plants are generally kept potted for ease of maintenance and control, but can just as easily be planted in the bog areas of the pond. Non-tropical marginal plants can be wintered in most colder climates by placing them into the deeper levels of your pond, where the water is less likely to freeze entirely. Some examples of marginal pond plants are:
Floating Pond Plants: These species are well-known for their ability to multiply quickly. Free-floating, these plants are great for providing shade and keeping algae growth down in your pond or water garden. Their long roots can act as a pond water cleaner as well: trapping nuisance particles of debris and silt as they float along the pond's surface. Many pond keepers will place floating pond plants in their external filter boxes for additional filtration and enhanced growth. Some species of floating pond plants are:
A Word Of Caution
Goldfish and Shubunkins are excellent fish choices for you water garden. However, Koi can be very destructive to plant beds if care is not taken. Koi can get very large (over two feet) and can easily uproot plants if they have access to them. Though this is healthy for the koi, it can quickly ravage your beautiful pond plants. Always prepare pots for plants being housed with koi.
Many areas of the country have regulations regarding invasive plant species. In these areas it may be illegal to keep or buy certain water plant species. Our website contains state restrictions for each plants, it is always a good idea to check your local regulations to be sure.