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Pond Planting Explained for Beginners

Pond planting explained for Beginners

The only difference between adding plants to your pond or water garden compared to planting up borders in your back garden is WATER. The thing that seems to confuse people the most is the different water depth requirements. However, it does not need to be explained in a complicated way. To keep things simple, I have made a short list below of all the water depth requirements for pond plants.

Marginal plants (where water meets land)

Deep water marginal plants (submerged 6 to 12 inches)

Deep water plants, oxygenating plants and water lilies (submerged 6 inches to 48 inches)

Free floating pond plants (water surface)

Marginal Plants

The plants in this category will all grow in very shallow water (0-6 cm water depth). In a natural environment this would be where water meets land; in nature this water level changes frequently due to seasonal weather patterns (drought and excessive rainfall). Marginal plants have deep roots that can reach water levels in times of drought; these versatile plants can also survive weeks of seasonal flooding.

In a natural pond we simply plant marginal plants straight into clay/pond substrate. In a man-made lined, fiberglass or concrete pond we need to use planting accessories, aquatic baskets, aquatic basket liners, aquatic soil and aquarium grave/aquatic gravel. The process of planting is exactly the same as if you were planting up patio pots or windowsill boxes. When the planting is completed you simply submerge the planted aquatic basket into the pond on a marginal shelf so the top of the basket  is 0-6 cm under the water.

Deep water marginal plants  

The process of planting for plants in this category is exactly the same, apart from the water depth requirements of 6 to 12 inches of water.

Deep water plants, oxygenating plants and water lilies

The process of planting for plants in this category is exactly the same; apart from the water depth requirements of 6 to 48 inches of water. Oxygenating plants have very shallow roots so it is best to plant these into specially designed shallow square aquatic baskets (20 cm oxygenating baskets)

Free floating pond plants

Most free floating plants are either tropical like the Water Hyacinths that have just been banned by the EU; or they are invading nuisance plants that you will never want like Azzola and Duck weeds. 

That leaves two species of frost-hardy free floating plants that will grow in UK ponds. However one of those that typically goes under the category “free floating pond plants” is Stratiotes Aloides (water soldiers). They are however incorrectly categorised in every magazine, book, TV programe and by every retail supplier! Water soldiers are deep water pond plants that rise up to the water surface on long anchored roots and break the water surface during  the summer. They are NEVER free floating.

This leaves just ONE frost-hardy free floating pond plant suitable for ponds in the UK. Hydrocharis morsus ranae (frog bit): this very special non-invasive free floating pond plant has attractive leaves the size of a 10 pence and small white flowers and is suitable for all areas of still water.

Keep things simple and you won’t go far wrong!

Please visit my website to see over 750 pond plants and water garden plants available to buy online, also a large range of aquatic baskets and other pond planting accessories, all you need to bring your pond/water garden to life with color all summer long, dispatch within 5 working days, or visit my retail nursery in Surrey, check opening times.

Lastly we have over 120 informative articles on pond plants, pond planting, water gardening and wildlife ponds.