For a pond to attract wildlife and establish a balanced ecosystem you need to furnish it with a range of plants. These tips will guide you through the depths to a successful planting scheme. 

Deep waters

To set up your planting scheme you will need some plants that like to root in deep water, some for shallow water, and some more functional oxygenating pondweeds to live in the water itself. Always check the depth range for each plant before you decide where to sink it in the pond: most waterlilies thrive in the deepest part, but plant arum lilies on a shelf up to 30cm (12in) deep.

Learn how to design and build your own pond or water feature

 

Plant in spring for best results

Late spring onwards, when water temperatures have started to rise, is the best time to put in acquatic and marginal plants. They will establish and grow away rapidly at this time of year.

 

Get weeds working first to clean the water

Oxygenating weed is best added at an early stage (you simply drop in weighted bunches) so that it can establish and start doing its valuable work. Choose a native variety: in many countries foreign species of pondweed bought unwittingly by gardeners have escaped from garden ponds into the wild, choking waterways.

Read more: How to build a rockery

 

Make deep-water plants easy to manage

Use purpose-made aquatic baskets to anchor the roots of deep-water plants on the bottom of the pond: these can then simply be lifted when you need to divide the plants. Fill the baskets with special aquatic compost – potting mixes are too rich and will promote weed growth and algae – and hold it down with a top covering of grit.

Include native plants to attract wildlife

Some native aquatic plants are just as beautiful as foreign exotics and will attract bees and butterflies. Choose varieties to suit your locality and the conditions you can offer: damp-loving plants are the obvious ones to grow close to the edges of a pond. Native wildflowers also look stunning planted around natural ponds.

Read more: How to attract more wildlife into your garden

 

Star performers

Deep-water plants

pink water lillies

This group of plants thrives at a depth of 30–90cm (12–36in). It includes most waterlilies, which have exquisite flowers in a range of colours from white to shades of pink and lemon-yellow.

  • Nymphaea ‘froebelii’ (pink waterlily—above)
  • Nymphaea ‘marliacea Chromatella’ (lemonyellow waterlily)
  • Nymphaea ‘walter pagels’ (white waterlily)
  • Zantedeschia aethiopica (white arum lily)

Marginal plants

Kingcup or Marsh marigold

With their roots and the lower part of their stems submerged, these plants grow best in water that is 7–15cm (3–6in) deep.

  • Butomus umbellatus (flowering rush)
  • Caltha palustris (kingcup or marsh marigold—above)
  • Iris laevigata (Japanese water iris)
  • Iris versicolor (blue flag)
  • Mentha aquatica (water mint)

Bog plants 

drumstick primula

These damp-loving plants flourish in wet soil and are good for boggy patches in the garden as well as for pond margins.

  • Filipendula rubra (queen of the prairies)
  • Geum rivale (water avens)
  • Iris sibirica (Siberian iris)
  • Primula denticulata (drumstick primula—above)
  • Valeriana officinalis (common valerian)

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