I love aquatic plants. When working at our pond store, I’ll regularly take a detour through the pond plants to see what is in bloom!
It first starts with the Marsh Marigolds. They’re bright yellow and are usually the first aquatic plant we see blossoming. I highly recommend putting one of these in your feature as a pick-me-up right after the winter chill wears off. Their bright colour and early blossoms will help shake off those winter blues, just as a tulip does. They’re also one of the oldest pond plants, meaning these things are hardy!
At our pond store, we also have a large variety of water lilies. As they start to bloom, the whole area becomes filled with all these colours. Reds, yellows, purples, pinks, whites- all these gorgeous colours and shapes! I’m a sucker for a pretty water lily, especially a tropical one.
Not only are aquatic plants gorgeous, they also provide many benefits for your pond! I’m going to share with you 3 reasons why you should add water plants to your water feature.
Why add aquatic plants?
There are many reasons to add aquatic plants into your pond. Here are just 3 reasons why:
- Aquatic plants look great
- Aquatic plants help with water clarity
- Aquatic plants have many benefits for animals
1. Pond plants look great
Since you’re reading this blog post, I’m going to assume that you like the look of aquatic plants. Perfect. That’s the first reason to have plants in your pond.
Foliage and flowers give ponds, streams and waterfalls a more natural look and can add a lot of vibrant colours to the area. Picture a pond in the woods, it always has plant material around it. While you may not want quite as many plants as seen in the picture below, adding plants to your water feature can help naturalize it and soften the edges.
Water lilies are an obvious aquatic plant staple for any pond. They come in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes. If you’re looking for a very vibrant coloured flower, tropical water lilies are usually your best bet. However, don’t focus on just the colour of the flowers. Water lilies also have different coloured foliage and their flowers can be different shapes. Shopping for aquatic plants should be fun so take the time to find one that you really like.
For those without much of a green thumb, floating water plants like Water Lettuce and Hyacinth are a great way to add foliage and keep your pond clean without much effort. Simply place the plant on the water and you’re good to go. If you have a pond skimmer, it is a good idea to wedge the roots of the floating aquatic plant in-between some rocks. This will help to stop the Water Lettuce and Hyacinth from floating into the skimmer.
If you know during the construction of your pond that you will be having plants, shelves at different designated heights can be designed into the water feature so that planting becomes easier. Taller plants such as Water Iris, Pickerel Rush and Cardinal Flower suit these shelves well.
Through your stream, add in some marginal plants. I prefer to incorporate aquatic plants that fan out across the water, such as Water Forget-Me-Nots, Creeping Jenny or Monkey Flowers.
2. Pond plants help with water clarity
By absorbing nutrients found in the water, pond plants remove excess nutrients that would have otherwise been absorbed by growing algae (the plant that we don’t want growing). So by planting pond plants, you’re helping to remove the food that algae needs to grow. No food, no algae.
Floating plants (such as Water Hyacinth and Water Lettuce) and spreading plants (such as Water Lilies and Creeping Jenny) also decrease algae by creating a large amount of shade in the water. This decrease in sunlight causes the water to remain cooler. Cool water with less sunlight is not ideal for sun loving algae.
When fish waste and decaying organic matter like leaves are left unattended, it can create a lot of issues for water quality. Luckily, there is the nitrogen cycle. Your water feature is its own little ecosystem with many things going on at once! It’s a throwback to highschool science class; learning about how the grass grows, which feeds the bunnies, which feeds the foxes, until there is not enough grass to feed all the new bunnies. The nitrogen cycle is one of the many cycles occurring in your water feature and is the process by which ammonia eventually becomes used by plants instead of staying in the water and decreasing the water quality.
Oxygen-rich water helps with biological filtration. By increasing the oxygen in the water, we get more gas exchange and a reduction in foul odours that can come from decaying vegetation and fish waste. Plants such as Mare’s-Tail and Hornwort are great oxygenating pond plants.
3. Pond plants are great for animals
Pond plants provide food, shade, shelter, and nesting grounds for all types of animals including fish, frogs, and dragonflies, with many marginal plants providing a nesting habitat for a variety of birds.
For aquatic animals such as pond koi, submerged plants help create highly oxygenated water, allowing fish to breathe easily. They also provide areas for the fish and frogs to hide and reproduce. The more frogs you have, the less mosquitos and other irritating bugs you will have. Frogs are especially beneficial if you have a garden nearby, eating tomato beetles, slugs, grubs, grasshoppers, and cutworms.
Large leafy plants on the surface of the water also create shade which helps to keep the pond a much more desirable temperature for pond animals. They also help provide hiding spots to keep animals safe from predators.
Water plants are an easy way to beautify, clarify, and boost the habitability of your pond. With such a large selection of aquatic plants available, make sure to take the time to really find the ones you love.