The Importance of Marginal Plants

The Importance of Marginal Plants

There are many different categories of water plants, and just as plants have adapted to all areas of land, they have also adapted to all areas of the water.   In this article, I will talk about freshwater ponds, streams, dykes, lakes, dew ponds and even man-made canals.  It’s in all these environments that water plants can be found growing in all areas of the water.  Some have adapted to growing up from the bottom, producing underwater leaves or leaves that float on the water surface.   A few species have even adapted to free float in the water with no anchored leaves at all.  All water plants play an important role in creating water clarity thus, encouraging wildlife and maintaining the correct Eco-balance in a pond. However the largest category of plants grow  around the edge of ponds in the shallow margins where water meets land.  There are literally hundreds of species and their cultivars.  They are experts at survival and many produce rhizomes and root systems that go down three feet to the water table enabling them to survive droughts, and bouts of extreme flooding.


Encouraging Wildlife

Marginal plants play a massive role in encouraging and maintaining wildlife in all aspects of water-gardening as they provide an excellent home and hiding place for nesting wildfowl, and a safe breeding place for Toads and Frogs.  Many of these plants produce flowers filled with nectar which attract many different types of Butterflies, Bees and other pollinating insects.  All types of underwater nymphs use rushes and many other tall stemmed marginal plants to climb out of the water before emerging into adult Dragonflies, Damselflies, Mayflies and many other flying insects. Marginal plants also provide a safe haven for wildlife visiting for a drink and a safe exit for frog-lets, toad-lets and baby newts. Underneath the water, marginal plants also provide a safe haven for Newts, numerous species of insects, crustaceans and adult baby fish.


Correct Nitrate Levels

Marginal plants are heavy feeders and take excess nitrates out of the water, creating the correct water balance and clear water clarity.  This process is known as ‘Phyto-Filtration’.  Its not surprising that many species of Rush such as the famous Norfolk Rush, are used in giant filter beds. Although the Rushes are the best marginal plants for this job, all marginal plants play an important role in this process.




Soil Erosion

All natural waterways are susceptible to soil erosion from heavy rain and flooding.  Marginal plants especially when used in man-made environments,  play a very important role in preventing erosion.  Many species produce roots, rhizomes and runners that knit together up the banks of ponds and lakes preventing the soil from being washed away and down into the water.


Visually attractive

Whenever we visualize a logo or see a postcard of a water garden environment, or the front cover of a book on water plants, it is most often a picture of a Water Lily or a Bulrush.  The latter is probably the most visually famous of all marginal plants. But there are quite literally hundreds of marginal plants that come in an array of different  heights, shapes and colour, producing magnificent blooms and seed heads throughout the spring and summer months. Its surely then, not surprising that Marginal plants are the most popular and widely used plants in the water gardening industry.


Visit our website to see our huge range (largest in the UK) of marginal pond plants available to buy throughout the spring and summer, over 750 pond plants and water garden plants available to buy online or from our retail nursery in Surrey.