Suitable pond plants
Pond plants are essential to maintain optimum water balance. In addition to providing surface coverage, pond plants also keep out the dreaded algal bloom. Lack of plant coverage in the pond will lead to the growth of algae, which will finally make your beautiful pond look like pea soup. Pond plants keep out algae by "starving" the algae. Pond plants absorb the minerals and carbon dioxide in the water and thus prevent algae from taking root. More than half the pond should be covered with surface foliage.
Pond plants can be broadly classified into four groups: oxygenators, marginals, floaters and aquatic. Each group plays an important part in the health of your pond.
Oxygenators, as the name suggest, help in producing lots of oxygen in the water. These pond plants are very important for water clarity. Usually, the whole plant along with its roots, stems and even leaves are submerged in the water. Two oxygenators even produce flowers. These are water buttercup and water violet. Willowmoss, another popular oxygenator, is evergreen and very effective.
Marginals are ornamental pond plants. They do not have a very significan part to play in keeping water balance. They may provide enough cover for your fish or frogs. These are usually kept in shelves at the edge of the pond. Marginals are specially planted in pots or baskets.
Floaters are floating pond plants. The leaves and stems of floating plants can float just below or on the surface of the water. The roots grow into the water. They help in keeping algae at bay, and also provide enough cover for tadpoles or small fish. Protecting the inhabitants from the intense and direct rays of the sun is yet another major function of this pond plant. But some floaters, like the duckweed, become problematic as it is almost impossible to get rid of this plant once it is established in the pond. Water hyacinth is a beautiful floater that blooms in summer.
Pond plants that are most beneficial for the bigger pond are the Deep water, aquatic plants. These need to be planted well inside the pond - about a foot or more deep. They provide much greater water coverage. They help to keep the water clear by blocking out the intensity of the sun's rays. They also grow very thick and help to keep the water cool. An attractive aquatic pond plant is the water hawthorn. It sprouts beautiful white blooms and will even grow in slightly shady areas.
Water lilies are perhaps the most common of all pond plants. They are beautiful as well as hardy. They are easy to grow. These are deep-water plants and therefore need to go deep into the water. Water lilies have no tolerance for flowing water. Carnea and Alba are the two most popular kinds of water lilies. Since they are so easy to grow, they also grow very fast and may over populate your pond. Care must be taken that only one-third of the pond surface is covered with water lily.
Marginal plants are usually placed with their tops about 1-6 inches under the water. Most lilies are placed about 15-30 inches below water. Newer varieties that can be placed closer to the surface are also available. The amount of fertilizers that you need to use for pond plants depends upon the variety of plant you grow. Mostly plants that grow luxuriantly during summer months need more fertilizers. You should also consider that some plants are sensitive to temperature fluctuations, and may not survive the cold winter months. Pond plants should be selected according to the geography of the place. While planting pond plants, it is a good idea to put some holes into the pot. The plants then develop fine feeder roots that move through the hole and absorb the nutrients from the water. This also allows the formation of a large network of roots that mesh and mingle, so that the pots do not fall during windy days. It also helps reduce algae growth.
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