Although we are still in winter’s grip, spring will be here sooner than you think. Late January through February is a great time to start planning what pond plants you will add this year and where/how you will plant them. You need to keep in mind having plants that cover the surface, submerged plants, and bog (or marginal) plants. All three of these plant types have specific purpose.
Surface plants help shade the fish and help keep the water temperature from getting too high. The roots also help remove excess dissolved nutrients from the water and serve as a supplemental food source. Submerged plants help oxygenate the water keeping the pond safe and healthy for your fish. Bog plants are used around the edge to help soften the look and make your pond appear much more natural.
Surface plants require no planting media. They simply float on the surface and the roots hang free. The exception to that rule would be water lilies. Lily pads are the leaves of the plant which grows from a planter at the bottom of the pond. I like to use our plastic lily tubs filled with aquatic planting media. I add about 1/2″ of small pebbles (aquarium gravel works great) to the top of the media to prevent it from clouding the pond.
Submerged plants need something to sink their feet into. If your pond has been around for a couple or more years you likely have a layer of dirt, gravel and detritus along the bottom that plants like anacharis and hornwort will just love. If your pond is new or extremely clean you’ll need to use lightweight planting baskets to hold both the planting media and the plants themselves.
Bog plants are generally planted around the edge of the pond. They like their roots to be under water but not the rest of the plant. An alternative way to add bog plants is to use a floating pond basket. These baskets keep the roots under water but allow the plant to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. I always add a few floating baskets to my pond to add some extra variety of plants above the water line.
It may be cold outside but some time spent putting together a planting plan for your pond will have you thinking warm weather thoughts in no time.