Choosing the right Plants for your Pond
Water – however small – can add extra dimension to any garden. Whether it’s the gentle sound, its cooling or light-reflecting properties, or the attraction for wildlife, water is to be recommended. Having water in your garden also gives you another planting environment, an opportunity to bring in an even greater variety of plants. Here are our tips on getting your plant choices right.
It's all about the mix
To keep your pond or water feature looking beautiful and healthy, the best place to start is with a mix of plants, suited to the pond’s size and depth. Measure the depth of your water in a few key places so you have an idea of what type of plants you need; bear in mind that water levels will rise and fall during the year so allow a few centimetres either way. You will ideally want a mixture of marginal plants, deep-water plants and perhaps floating ones too. (For a guide to what the differences are between water plants, try our blog here)
Next, think about how big you want the plants to grow. As with all plants, some are much more vigorous growers and could quickly swamp (pun intended!) a smaller pond. That said, some of the much-loved plants, like water lily and Zantedeschia, do come in dwarf varieties too so do just ask our team if you’re not sure. It’s also a good idea to ensure you aren’t planting anything that could become invasive, especially if you aren’t buying your plants from us! The governments’ ‘Be Plant Wise’ website has tips on how to check and what to avoid:
Dont't forget the oxygenators
Getting the oxygen balance right in your pond is important: too many nutrients, and you’ll get algae and duckweed taking over; not enough, and any plants or wildlife might struggle. Oxygen absorbs impurities in the water, helping to keep the water clear.
Roughly calculate the water volume of your pond. Measure the rough length and width and calculate the approximate average depth; make sure you use the same unit of measurement for each one (stick to either metric or imperial measures!). Multiply length by width by depth and you will get the total cubic capacity. This will give you an idea of how many oxygenating plants you will need.
We’d recommend choosing a mixture of totally submerged oxygenating plants (as they can offer shelter for wildlife) with some that site partly above the water. We’d also recommend sticking to native species if you can as you can be more sure they will survive ice and cold through the winter – although there are never any guarantees!
For further tips on keeping your pond clear, we like these from Gardener’s World.
Tips for buying and planting
Most aquatic plants will come in a perforated basket with holes large enough to let water in (so the basket sinks to where you want it to sit) but small enough to stop your compost or other planting medium floating away. It’s worth covering the top of the compost with grit, too, for the same reason.
Remember that excess nutrients from ‘normal’ compost can feed unwanted algae so consider using an aquatic variety, particularly for plants where the pot will be entirely in the water. Check that you have planted your pots at the right depth for the plant to thrive.
If you don’t have a pond already and would like to create one, we like this advice from the RHS on making a pond that’s wildlife friendly.