A water garden opens possibilities of growing unusual plants and pleases your ears with a soothing sound. Water gardening has been followed for ages and helps in breaking the monotony of a large piece of land.
You can design your water garden in a naturally available water body or in any container that can hold water. You can also add water lilies, fish, and fountains to make it look even more beautiful.
If you decide to create a water garden, you can experiment with plants that you otherwise could not. But before selecting the pond plants, you need to make sure you create a suitable environment for their proper growth. Here are a few tips:
- A depth of 24 to 36 inches is necessary for growing water plants in a small pond or container. This depth also prevents water from freezing solid in winters. Line the bottom of the pond with cement or bricks. These days, a performed liner made from fiberglass or plastic is used widely.
- If you are not using a natural pond, get the water from one. Pond plants grow well without chlorine, which is present in tap water
- Place your pond in an area where it can get at least 6 hours of sunlight. Pond plants grow the best in full sun. Avoid low spots or areas that accumulate runoff. Do not put the garden in the shade or under large trees.
Water gardens are usually small, so the place to grow plants is limited. That is why it is essential to carefully select plants that have a purpose – improving the health of the garden, deterring algae, adds color or height. You need to be aware of some basic plant terminologies before choosing your plants.
12 Best Plants for Water Garden
Floaters or Floating Plants
Plants that float in water and do not need soil are called floating plants. They shade the water and absorb dissolved nutrients. Through this, they help in suppressing algae and keeping the pond clean. They are natural filters that remove nitrogen from the water. Example: Lettuce, Hyacinth, and Duckweed.
Shallow Marginal Plants (Marginals)
These plants grow at the edge of ponds and can survive in up to 3 inches of water over the plant crown. Often used to add color and height, marginals are also called emergent plants. They can be planted slightly inside the pond or directly in the soil around the plant. Example: Arrowhead, water iris.
Known as oxygenators, these plants grow beneath the surface of the water. They absorb excess nutrients from the water and prevent the growth of algae. They also provide spawning areas to fishes and water creatures. Example: Cobomba and Hairgrass.
Deep Water plants
These usually require larger water containers as they need at least 10 inches of water covering the soil surface. Water lilies and lotus are the most popular in the group. If your pond is well-established, at least 40 to 50 percent of it should be covered with leaves. Also, make sure you place these plants away from water fountains.
Water gardens can be anything the gardener wants. Using a variety of plants will make your garden look visually appealing, and the right combination of plants would keep it healthy. Here is a list of some best aquatic plants you can consider.
One of the most elegant, exotic, and classic bloomers, water lotus, can be considered a bog plant as they do not cover a lot of water surface as leafed water lilies do. They come in a variety of colors, and the flower can grow up to one foot. The gorgeous blue-green leaves complement the bright, beautiful flower, which can be a centerpiece of your pond.
They have brittle roots that can be broken easily, killing the plant. Make sure you keep it in a container before submerging it 6 to 10 inches below the water surface. This giant plant needs space to grow, so plant a lotus only if you have a large water garden. Place them about 4 inches below the water surface. They grow best in full sun and up to 6 feet depending on the type.
Water gardens look incomplete without a series of water lilies. They are very similar to lotuses, with the most distinct feature being the leaves. Lotus leaves do not touch the surface while water lily’s leaves stay afloat. You can still grow a water lily in small ponds, unlike lotuses. They look gorgeous and come in a variety of colors, such as shades of red, orange, yellow, pink, blue, and indigo.
Water lilies are perennial and of two types: hard and tropical. Tropical lilies form crowns that should be placed in the soil near the top. They are planted in more bottomless pots. Hardy lilies are grown in complete shallow tubs and covered with 6 to 8 inches of water. All water lilies need fertilization.
Cattails can make an eye-catching addition to your water garden. They spread fast and produce a familiar spike of fuzzy brown blooms and grassy leaves. They are tall (up to six feet) and usually used by gardeners to add an architectural presence in outdoor ponds. They are also versatile, i.e., they can grow submerged or pond-side.
Cattails have a dense root system so they can prevent soil erosion. They are also responsible for filtering toxic elements out of the water as they have nitrogen-fixing bacteria on their roots. They should be planted in partial to full sun and moist conditions.
As the name suggests, this plant has diamond-shaped leaves that form a mosaic. The outer edges of its stem and leaves turn red in full sun, giving it a beautiful and elegant look. The flower is 4 to 6 inches wide that contracts at night and spreads again in daylight. These plants are perfect for providing shade to the fishes. Pretty yellow cup-shaped flowers bloom in summers.
Mosaic plants are tropical and easy to grow. Remember that these plants do not survive in alkaline water – a water pH from 5.5 to 7.5 is preferred. Gardeners usually pot them before placing them in the pond.
An easy-care flower, the Japanese Iris looks stunning in a water garden. It bears large, dinner-plate size flowers in gorgeous colors like purple, blue, and white. They have soft, sword-like foliage that reaches 3 to 4 feet and sway in the breeze. Japanese Iris should be planted in groups, as they deliver the best impact then. They do not require a lot of care, just a little fertilization and acidic water would be enough. They grow best in full or partial sun.
Ancient Egyptians used this plant to make paper. These days, papyrus is widely used as an aquatic plant. It is marginal and can be grown on the ground, too, until you give it plenty of water. It is a tall, grass-like plant with a showy umbel at the top of the stem. It also has greenish-brown flowers that grow in summers.
By the looks of it, it is also called an umbrella plant and can grow up to 10 feet. They are easy to grow and prefer full to partial sun. If not submerged, you need to keep them moist. It acts as a dramatic focal point and adds height. When your papyrus becomes too big, you can divide it and place one section elsewhere.
The pitcher plant is an underused aquatic plant. It is a carnivorous plant (eats insects) and is known for its unique pitcher-shaped leaves. It has excellent red, purple, yellow or green flowers. They look exotic, and that is why gardeners like to include them.
It grows well in nutrient-poor soil that is slightly acidic and nitrogen deprived. Make sure they have access to the full sun, and the pond is away from the wind. Pitcher plants do not need fertilization.
An easy-to-care ornamental floating aquatic plant, water lettuce adds wonderful greenery to any water body. They have thick leaves and no stalk, so it appears as if they have grown directly from the roots.
They form a mat at the surface of water producing miniature copies of itself. It is not very wide, but in favorable conditions, it can grow up to 10 inches or more. It controls the nutrient level in pond water, and its roots offer a spawning area to fishes.
If you are beginning water gardening, it can be a great plant to start with. The plant needs minimal care and has no diseases. It grows well in sunlight. They tend to self-propagate and produce tiny white flowers.