Aquatic Gardens and containers are a great match for creating outstanding displays for your pool and patio area. If you haven’t read the beginning of this article, you may want to go to Water Gardening in Containers Saves Money and Labor. It’s fun to grow plants in water and an aquatic garden is always a great conversation starter.
We are now ready to go on to the types of plants available for water gardening and how to plant your water garden container.
Types of Water Garden Plants
Pond plants can be broken down into four basic groups; floating plants, surface plants, oxygenating or submerged plants, and marginal or bog plants.
Floating plants float freely on the surface of the water. They add interest and movement to your aquatic garden. They grow quickly and require periodic thinning. Floating plants shade the water with their leaves, thereby reducing the amount of light reaching the surface of your container and inhibiting the growth of algae. Some examples of floating plants are azolla, duckweed, water lettuce, and the water hyacinth.
Surface Plants or Aquatic Plants:
Surface plants have their roots in soil and leaves on long stems that float on the water’s surface. By blocking sunlight, they also reduce the spread of algae. Some examples of surface aquatic plants are water lilies, which come in miniature, tropical and hardy varieties. Tropical water lilies are divided into day and night bloomers, while hardy lilies are all day bloomers.
Oxygenating or Submerged Plants:
Submerged plants have leaves that remain underwater. Although you can’t see much of them, they are very important because they produce oxygen for both plants and fish if you have them in your water garden containers. These plants use the nitrogen from decaying plant materials, thereby depriving algae of food they need for growth. A few examples of oxygenating plants are Cabomba, Dwarf Sagittaria, and Hornwort. Potamogeton crispus (curly pondweed), although an invasive plant, can be planted in a small basket at the bottom of your container. Oxygenating plants may also be planted in gravel.
Submerged plants are a must if your pond is to be healthy and support fish. Submerged plants should be stocked at a rate of one bunch per 2 square feet of surface area.
Marginal or Bog Plants:
Marginal or Bog plants are grown in and around ponds to add height and a variety of textures. However, some bog plants grow in standing water and are planted in aquatic gardens for these very reasons. Examples of bog plants that could be used in an aquatic container garden are pickerel weed, arrowhead, sweet flag, and dwarf cattails. You could also try marsh marigolds and the obedient plant.
Planting Your Container Water Garden
Water lilies, lotus, and other aquatic plants do best when they are planted in a heavy clay based soil. Clay is good for your container because it helps keep plants erect and also holds nutrients well. Garden soil will also work well as long as it contains no fertilizers.
Do not use potting soil or garden soil. These contain a high degree of organic matter that will rot and decay if kept wet. Potting soil will float to the top and make a mess in your water garden.
If you add 1 or 2 tablespoons crushed aquarium charcoal to your container this will help keep the water in your aquatic garden fresh. Put this in the bottom of your container and top it with a layer of pebbles or crushed gravel and then fill with water. Leave the container sit for a day or two in order to let the chlorine dissolve. If you are in a hurry, you can use a water dechlorinator available at your local pet and aquarium store.
Now that everything is in place waiting for your plants, move on to the last part of this section Plant A Water Garden And Create An Oasis Of Peace In Your Yard.