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Koi pond guide, Healthy Water Plants Pond Plants play a vital role in the health of a pond.
July 05, 2009

Healthy Water Plants

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Pond Plants

Pond Plants play a vital role in the health of a pond. Once established, aquatic plants grow rapidly and will require dividing and cutting back to look their best. In order to secure a good display in the first season, it is best to plant, pond plants during late spring and early summer. Later plantings establish without difficulty, but they have to be cut back, hard before planting and this affects their early summer appearance.

Choosing Healthy Plants

Freshly bought or divided plants can be planted without much preparation in early spring, but inspect them carefully for small cylinders of jelly containing the eggs of the greater pond snail, which may be clinging to the stems and foliage. Be sure to remove these, as the resultant snails are an annoying pest that can severely damage plant foliage. All plants for planting should be well-balanced, the top being compatible in size with the root. Do not be worried about removing foliage from any well-rooted aquatic plant.

Preparing and Planting Marginals

Tall growing marginal plants must be cut back before planting. Often by mid-season the foliage is completely out of proportion to the root system. Even young plants already established in containers, which just require placing in the pond, can be encouraged to grow more strongly and thickly if you first cut them back.

Preparing Submerged Plants

With submerged plants, the more vigorous the young shoots the better. When preparing new bunches of cuttings from existing plants, remove a number of sprigs of healthy growth and wrap a thin strip of lead around the base. When planting, make sure that the lead is completely buried, otherwise it will rot through the stems and the cuttings will float to the surface of the pond.

General Care and Maintenance

If a garden pond is to be a constant source of pleasure and delight, it will require a certain amount of maintenance. Immediately after the winter has passed, remove any lingering plant remains and mulch the garden with well-composted bark or peat. Mulching with organic matter every year helps to improve the soil conditions, but the mulch must not be rich in nutrients, otherwise they will leach into the pool and cause the development of an algal bloom. While aquatic plants do not benefit from a traditional mulch, it is useful to go around all the containers and topdress them with pea gravel. At the same time, you can inspect the plants to see whether they are ready for division and remove any stray shoots that are emerging erratically from the baskets.

Apart from fertilizing the plants in summer, it is usually necessary to thin out weak shoots and remove fading foliage and blossoms before they have an opportunity to set seed. This is very important with plants such as the water plantain, because not only is seed production a drain on the plant, but if a viable seed is produced and scattered, the emerging seedlings can create a troublesome weed problem. This can happen with some of the reeds and rushes, too.

Carefully examine your submerged plants. Providing that a balance has been struck and the water in your pond is clear, regularly remove any messy and unattractive surplus growth, together with any woody material. However, a mass clearout of submerged plants during the summer is a big mistake. It is regular manicuring of the plants that makes all the difference to the appearance of your pond.

The same principle applies to floating plants, especially the potentially invasive azolla, or Fairy Moss. This is an invaluable plant if you can control it, as it makes a major contribution to ensuring clear water. Fairy moss often sticks to the surface of marginal containers and can look untidy, so float it off from time to time by raising the water level. Remember, Fairy Moss or Azolla is a delicious treat for your Koi.

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