Buying Pond Plants

Buying Pond Plants

In my trade, water gardening means growing plants in and around water or in damp or permanently wet areas, also incorporating the planting of lakes, ponds and their surrounding areas down to the smallest patio containers.  This also includes the planting of bog gardens, moist borders, streams, ditches, marshes, and almost anywhere that is permanently wet.  I often visit garden centres to browse at the pond plants on offer and the first thing I always notice is, the confusing way that the water garden plants are categorised, for example, Perennials advertised as Marginal plants when in reality, will only survive no more than a month when planted as a marginal plant.  I would therefore always suggest doing a bit of self research before purchasing and don’t always rely on the information that is printed on the plant label.  Most Marginal plants will tolerate any fluctuation of seasonal water levels in their natural environment and will also tolerate flooding and times of drought.  Perennials on the other hand, prefer to grow in moist free draining soil, and most will tolerate hot spells and seasonal drought but will not appreciate being grown in any boggy conditions or worse, if they become fully submerged at any time.


A Golden Rule

Marginal plants = very adaptable, so you can grow all varieties in water, and some in bog gardens and even moist borders.

Perennials = only adaptable to hot spells and flooding from heavy rain, but never to be used as a Marginal plant.


What To Look For When Buying Pond Plants

One of the most important things to look out for when buying pond plants is the contamination of Duckweed and Azzola.  If you’re not familiar with these small, floating plants, I would definitely suggest familiarizing yourself with them and looking them up for identification.  If you ever see a plant laden display tray filled with water and spot any small, floating plants attached to the plant pots that are for sale, I would suggest to avoid buying them without any hesitation as those small highly invasive plants will quickly take over and spread over your entire pond choking your plants and robbing them of vital daylight and it only takes one minute little piece to ruin your beautiful pond.  Duckweed and Azzola are such a nuisance and a pest that I struggle to believe that they are actually sold on the market and that anybody would consider buying them.  I think this is definitely a case of buyer – beware!!!  



Water Lilies

There are hundreds of different varieties of Water Lily and they grow from different Rhizome types, but only certain Rhizomes are suitable for growing in aquatic baskets and planting bags, so, unless you are planting straight into clay or silt, you will need to carefully consider and investigate your chosen Rhizome variety to make sure it is well suited to your planting preferences, before you purchase.  I would also recommend to buy with caution or in fact, avoid buying altogether a particular Water Lily by the name of Nymphaea Chromatella.  Unfortunately this particular variety is very prone to Crown Rot when under stress, and this disease is very contagious and will ultimately quickly spread to any other existing Water Lilies if introduced to your pond.  However, there are plenty of other good yellow cultivars to choose from these days which can be purchased in complete confidence that they will be disease free from this devastating, and very unwelcome problem.


Healthy Roots And Leaves

Potted pond plants should always be sold with good root systems, so established potted plants should always have roots encircling the inside of the pot.  When purchasing, always take time to check to see if there are signs of roots escaping through the holes at the bottom of the pot or through holes in aquatic baskets.  When purchasing pot plants also be aware that there won’t always be leaves or shoot on them as certain varieties for instance, like Pontederia Cordata, don’t show any signs of growth until at least May time. When pond plants are in growth though, the leaves should always look healthy and rich in colour, with plenty of lush green leaves and not yellow and sickly looking.  Yellow leaves are often a sign of a starved out plant meaning, (too little provision of food),  but this obviously only applies with the exception of any plants that are supposed to have yellow leaves in the first place.  Check the leaves carefully as they should be free of Rust (brown dusty specks ), and especially for signs of Spider Mite, Black Fly, White Fly or any other airborne pests.

Potted pond plants can be planted throughout the year, so if you are planting in late summer or early Autumn, they can often look very scruffy and dormant.  Please be assured though that this is quite normal as any healthy looking plant with summer growth still on it, will be in the process of dying back, but beware even if tempted, remember it is still too early to cut back the old growth.


Caution and familiarity is always the key,

to making your dream garden a good possibility!

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