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Don't have a green thumb? The good news is that water gardening is really very easy. There's no digging to be done and no watering needed. Water plants tend to grow quite rapidly as well. Gratification comes quickly as aquatic plantings fill out and create a truly natural feeling in any water feature setting.


MARGINAL PLANTS - These plants require wet feet to be happy. As their name indicates they will thrive in just a few inches of water and are often found in the shallow margins of water bodies. These plants can often be bare rooted into the rockwork of the water feature and provide extra filtration by removing excess nutrients from the water. With a large variety of species in this category you're sure to find more than a few that suit your fancy. From creeping plants that grow right over rockwork and into the landscape or cascade like waterfalls over elevation changes to groves of tightly packed cattails standing tall above the water their variety is endless

Some examples include:

  • Cattails
  • Water Irises
  • Arrowhead
  • Rushes
  • Creeping Jenny
  • Water forget-me-not
  • Chameleon plant
  • Pennywort

Plant care tips - Each fall these plants should be pruned back to just a few inches high. Many marginal plants are perennial and will return each spring. Removing the dead vegetation prevents it from rotting in your water feature.

FLOATING PLANTS - These plants are nomadic and often times prolific in their reproduction. Floating on the surface of the water, they go where the current takes them. With roots floating free in the water column below they absorb excess nutrients all day long. Often you'll find your fish nibbling on all the microscopic organisms that seek refuge in these long feather-like root systems. Many "floaters" reproduce by sending out a little side shoot which creates a whole new plant. These "babies" can be pinched off the main plant and live quite comfortably on their own.

Some examples include:

  • Water Hyacinth
  • Water Lettuce
  • Fairy mos
  • Duckweed
  • Parrot's feather
  • Mosaic plant
  • Frogbit

Plant care tips - Buy these plants early in the summer once water temperatures reach a constant 50 degrees. They will multiply quickly once the heat of summer comes on. Remove these annual plants each fall before cold temps cause them to rot. By the way, they make a fantastic addition to the compost pile.

SUBMERSIBLE PLANTS - These plants spend a majority of their lives completely underwater. Usually rooted in the bottom of a pond they grow upwards toward the surface floating and swaying in the water currents below. A great refuge for fish and other aquatic life in the pond these plants tend to clump and spread into small groves. While they are quick growers that can require some pruning to keep them in check they are often called oxygenators because of their ability to remove CO2 from the water and replace it with plenty of fresh Oxygen. This makes them an ideal choice for ponds with large fish who require higher oxygen levels for survival.

Some examples include:

  • Anacharis
  • Hornwort
  • Cabomba
  • Elodea
  • Red Ludwigia
  • Jungle Val

Plant care tips - Don't over do it! These plants will multiply quickly under the right conditions. Once they get going they won't need any help. A mid-summer pruning will help to keep your population under control.

WATERLILIES AND LOTUSES - These jewels of the water garden are often rooted in the substrate of the pond bottom and send leaves and flowers on stems to float on the water's surface. They may even suspend themselves above the surface as it becomes crowded. Aside from their stunning flower displays that last all summer long they provide great security and shade for schools of fish below.

Some examples include:

  • Hardy water lilies
  • Tropical water lilies
  • Night blooming lilies
  • Dwarf lotuses
  • Large leafed lotuses
  • Native yellow pond lily

Plant care tips - Pinch yellowing leaves or dying flowers off at their base. The plant will respond by producing more blooms and vegetation all summer long. Repot lilies and lotuses every 2-3 years as they can become root-bound and "jump" their pots spreading out along the bottom of the pond quickly.