Floating Plants: A Contribution To Your Pond

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Written By Mark Washburn

Mark has 20 years of experience as a professional pond management consultant.

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There are many water plants that will play important roles in the health and wellbeing of your pond.  One of the major players is going to be floating plants.  Floating pond plants play many roles that help with maintenance, but contribute to the health of the wildlife surrounding your pond.

Nitrates and phosphates are the nutrients in water that cause the most algae growth in your pond.  Floating plants constantly absorb these nutrients.  Thus, helping clear up or prevent murky water.  The roots of floating pond plants also prove a great place for fish and frogs to lay their eggs.  This not only protects the eggs, but keeps the eggs from taking over the visible areas of your pond.  Floating pond plants keep your pond cool which will also help keep algae away.  To have proper balance achieved you may need up to 60% of the surface area of your pond.  That may seem like a lot, but you can get many different kinds of floating plants so you can not only achieve a balanced ecosystem for your pond, but a beautiful landscape feature for you to enjoy.

Water Lilies

Water lily
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Water lilies are among the group of hardy pond plants that many people enjoy.  You don’t have to worry too much about babysitting your water lilies once you’ve got them floating in your pond.  The only way to truly ruin one would be if it got frozen solid!  As long you are making sure to prune off dead flowers and leaves, and your lilies are getting 6-8 hours of direct sunlight a day you should have beautiful results.

Most water lilies only bloom during certain hours of the day.  The hardiest kind only bloom during the daytime hours.  So if you work, and you never see a bloom during the week, no worries, you can look forward to a weekend full of full blooms on your pond!

Another couple of things to remember about water lilies is that they don’t like being splashed.  This is something important to know, especially if you have a fountain or some sort of waterfall in your pond.  Plant the lilies far away from these water sources to avoid accidently drowning your lilies.  Also, make sure to plant your lilies in appropriate depth water.  Rule of thumb, the bigger the lily, the deeper the water!  But typically 18-30 inches of water should do the trick.

Water lilies are a classic choice that is a great contribution to any water garden as they add beauty, grace, and help achieve a healthy pond.

Water Hyacinth

If you are looking for a floating plant for your pond that is showy and will pop against the surroundings of your pond, water hyacinth is something to take a look at.  They have round or oval shiny leaves, the stalk is thick, and the flowers are large and beautiful.  The flowers typically are 2-3 inches and bloom a blue or lilac color with a yellow spot on each one.  Occasionally (or should I say rarely) you will get white blooms.

Water hyacinth is another one of those hardy pond plants: it can actually survive freezing temperatures.  So if you live in a place where you have extreme weather, this plant may serve you well.  It does however reproduce a lot, and quickly, so you need to make sure that you keep a close eye on your hyacinth so it does not take over your pond.  Making sure that you don’t throw excess hyacinths into the opposite end of your pond or even leaving it on the bank or your pond will help keep your water hyacinth under control.

Water hyacinths are distinguishable plants that provide a unique look to any water garden.

Penny Wart

Penny wart is a floating plant that works as a great filler and looks great when planted in bunches, as it can look scraggly if placed too thin.  Be aware that there are many different types of penny wart that work well in certain climates.  Some types won’t grow in warm water, but will in cool water.  Some are meant to be planted in gravel and not water.  If you are planning on ordering online, do some research at your local nursery to find out what type of penny wart would work for you.

Penny wart is a very hardy pond plant that needs minimal attention and not a lot of sunlight when it comes to growth.  When it starts growing, it doesn’t stop, so watch it carefully.  It can become very invasive and hard to remove.

Water lettuce

Another great floating plant is water lettuce.  Sometime people confuse it with water hyacinth, but the leaves are more ribbed and they bloom white flowers.  Water lettuce is a beautiful pond plant that covers your pond surface well and produces beautiful flowers for you to enjoy.  It is, however, very sensitive to cold water.  If the water gets near or below 50 degrees the leaves of your water lettuce are going to start yellowing.

Other than the sensitivity of water temperature, water lettuce is an easy plant to have.  Of course, keep and eye on it to make sure it doesn’t start to overtake the surface of your pond.  To remove it all you need to do it rake it up from the surface.

Keep up with your floating Plants

Overall, keeping control of the surface of your water by choosing floating plants that work for your environment is going to be the best bet for a healthy pond.  Making sure they don’t overgrow is going to be the most important thing you can do when maintaining these plants.  Having no sunlight available to your pond can be detrimental to your pond and the wildlife in it.  Floating plants will give back to you by helping keep your water clean and the animals in and around your pond in a healthy, natural habitat.

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