You cannot have a Water Garden
without plants. A modest water garden can be contained
in a barrel or trough or you can have an elaborate pond
with streams, fountains and waterfalls. Which ever one
you choose, a combination of plants will not only make
it beautiful, but healthy. Aquatic plants play essential
roles in the pond.
Submerged plants are those
that grow fully immersed in the water. They get their
nutrients directly from the water thru their leaves
rather than through their roots in the soil. Underwater
plants play a vital role in water gardening. They compete
for the nutrients in the water that promote algae growth.
They provide the fish with some food. They help oxygenate
the water. They also provide hiding places for your
fish if they feel threatened. One bunch of submersed
aquatic plant per square foot of water surface in a
pond that is not overstocked with fish will keep the
pond water clear. Some of the best-submerged plants
to have in your pond to help keep the water clear is:
Subtropical (will not over winter outside) with bright
green, fan shaped, flat-leaved up to1.5 inches in diameter.
Surface leaves are linear with pointed tips. It produces
a charming white flower at the waterâ€™s
surface. The flower is several times as large as the
very tiny white bloom of Anacharis and the equally tiny
purple bloom of Elodea.
North American native (a smaller leave version of the
commonly sold Anacharis) that breaks dormancy earlier
than other submersed plants. Elodea is an ideal plant
for preventing spring algae blooms. Plant this in soil
or pea gravel. Elodea is hardier than Anacharis.
Coontail, Hornwort. North American native That winters
well at the bottom of your pond. Buds usually break
off from the mother plant and will anchor itself to
a pot on the bottom of your pond and waits for spring.
This dark green plant is a free-floating plant.
Subtropical and a vigorous grower with multi branched
stems of mid-green sessils leaves that will get up to
an inch long and bend back. Can be easily propagated
from stem cuttings. Tiny white flowers are borne atop
thin stems at the waters surface. This plant should
be planted in pots of soil or pea gravel or weighted
to remain submersed. Sunlight and exposure to the air
dries out the plant or can turn it to mush. My fish
love to eat this plant so it does not stay very long
in my pond.
Parrots feather. At the surface you will find the touch-sensitive
whorls of feathery lime green leaves. These leaves can
be tucked into crevices of the waterfall or ponds edge.
You can also plant them in pots. The submersed leaves
are sparse along with stems of 20 to 60 inches in length
and are not very effective at nutrient removal. If it
remains below the ice in the winter it is hardy in zone
Spiral tape grass. Tropical plant that forms long ribbon
like leaves from basal rosettes. It is the slender flowers
stem that spirals to the water’s surface. The leaves
may grow as long as 32 inches. It spreads by both runners
and seed from its separate male and female plants.
All the above-mentioned
plants can be potted but if you do not have the room
in your pond for all those pots try and anchor them
down with a rock or another pot. I have pea gravel in
the bottom of my pond so most of my submerged plants
are grown on the bottom. I do however anchor them with
larger rocks to keep my koi from digging them up and
the plants from floating to the surface and into my
Jennings (pond Lady) President,
Mid-Michigan Pond & Water Garden Club
Advanced MSU Master Gardener