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Pond Life Part 2: Choosing The Right Plants

As the nation starts to enjoy warmer spring days, many homeowners are turning their attention to their outdoor space. Last week, we looked at some of the key factors that need to be considered before deciding to install a pond. Once your pond has been successfully installed, it is time for the fun bit! This week, we focus on some good plant choices to get your new pond buzzing with life.

If your pond was installed by a pond specialist, or if you have a local reliable gardener nearby, it may well pay to ask their advice on the most suitable pond plants for your pond size and location. In the meantime, here is what you need to know about pond plants.

Why are they so important?

Pond plants don’t just look good, they have a vital role to play in the mini ecosystem that you have created. Pond plants oxygenate your water and help to keep algae at bay by reducing water light and they provide valuable habitats for wildlife and (if you are planning on getting some), fish.

Choosing the right pond plants

Choosing a pond plant isn’t as simple as a quick online search and choosing plants that you like the look of, there are factors that you need to consider. Pond size is a big influencing factor; you may think that a smaller pond would be easier to maintain, but its ecosystem is actually more fragile and more susceptible to changing temperatures.

Types of pond plant

There are five broad types of pond plant:

  1. Bog plants such as water iris and clover, and cotton grass, love muddy pond banks – plant them at the edge of your pond.
  2. Marginals and deep marginals such as water mint and rushes, can be planted in aquatic planting baskets on the outer edge of the water. If you opt for rushes and other tall plants, plant them along the back of your pond so they don’t obscure it.
  3. Water lilies and deep water plants are happiest in the deepest parts of your pond, in large baskets with plenty of nutrition.
  4. Underwater and oxygenating plants such as water starwort and violet need to be fully submerged; they grow rapidly, so don’t be tempted to get too many.
  5. Floating plants such as water lettuce and chestnuts are free floating with roots that dangle into the water. A third of your pond surface should be covered, to prevent algae, and these are a great way of gaining coverage.

It can be tempting to buy lots of plants, but it’s important to avoid over-crowding. For smaller ponds, stick to a couple of plants that have plenty of space to grow. If your pond is in the direct sunlight, choose plants such as water lilies and floating plants for algae reduction. If your pond is in a shady spot, coverage isn’t such an issue, just make sure that the plants you choose are appropriate for your pond depth. If you are in doubt, speak to a local pond maintenance specialist who will be able to offer you professional advice.

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