How to plant pond plants?

Planting aquatic plants into a newly built pond

Always take care to plant only healthy plants into a pond, otherwise the delicate ecosystem may be disturbed by pests or diseases carried in on the plants. Choose those with clean green leaves and several buds. Avoid buying plants with slimy or yellow leaves or if the water the plants are growing in is murky.

The best time to buy pond, or aquatic plants is mid to late spring and early summer so that they have a chance to establish themselves before winter sets in. Most aquatic plants tolerate being out of water for very short periods. Once you have made your purchase, take your plants home in a plastic bag and put them into your pond as soon as possible.

Planting can take place any time after the dangers of frost have past and the water is warming up. There are two ways of planting a pond: either directly into the soil or in baskets. Planting directly into the soil does create a natural effect, but because the plants are free to spread they will need to be thinned out more frequently.  Planting directly is more suited to larger ponds. Most pond plants benefit from being planted in plastic mesh baskets. Planting in baskets controls vigour, protects the pond liner from sharp roots and makes pond maintenance easier. Baskets are available in a range of shapes and sizes. The open lattice allows water and gases to reach the soil. The basket needs to be lined with a piece of Hessian to contain the soil. The mesh will allow water to penetrate to the roots while helping to contain the growth of plants, particularly those that tend to spread uncontrollably.

Once you have selected a basket, cover the bottom with soil or aquatic compost. Place the plant in the basket and back fill with soil to just below the rim of the basket and to the original level around the plant. Lightly firm down the soil and cover with a 1cm (half an inch) layer of gravel. This will help to prevent the soil from floating away and adds extra stability to the basket when it is submerged into the water.

Not all pond plants are the same in terms of their requirements. A well-planned pond will take this into account providing the various groups of plants (marginals, floaters, oxygenators and deep-water plants) with suitable places to thrive. The correct planting depth is important: marginals need shallow water while deep-water plants such as water lilies need deep water to thrive.

Pond plants are easy to look after, grow well and require very little maintenance other than the occasional tidying up to remove dead foliage. With careful selection and planning, your pond should provide an attractive focal point in the garden for most of the year.

When adding plants to your pond, take good care not to damage the pond liner. If you plan to add soil to the bottom of your pond, it will be advisable to add a protective underlay above and below your liner.

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