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Frequently Asked Questions about Ponds

I receive many emails and telephone calls asking for advice on ponds and pond plants.  Here are a few of the most common questions. 

What is a Plug Plant/Bare Root Plant/Bunch?

A plug plant is a small plant which has been grown from seed or cuttings into a more mature plant ready to be planted out into its final planting position.  If planted in spring it will quickly grow to become a good sized plant within the same season.

Many pond plants are traditionally supplied as bare root plants.  They are established plants with the soil washed from their roots and should have old roots and large leaves removed before planting.  They need to be planted immediately on receipt and the roots must not be allowed to dry out.  

Many oxygenating plants are supplied as bunches early in the season.  Each bunch normally consists of at least four stems and they need to be potted up into planting baskets/bags immediately on receipt.  Three bunches are sufficient for one square metre of pond surface.  If planted in spring they will quickly grow to become a good sized plant within the same season.

Pond Planting Soil:

Pond plants should be potted up into either a proprietary Aquatic Soil or a medium to heavy garden loam.  Aquatic soil can be purchased from most Garden Centres.  If using garden soil, it must be free from fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides.  Planting Instructions for Pond Plants can be accessed by clicking here.

Plants suitable for Moving Water:

There aren't many plants which will do well in moving/splashing water - most pond plants prefer still or only gently moving water. Here are a few which will withstand moving water:

Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus aquatilis) - click here to buy - available April to early June only
Water Cress (Nasturtium officinale) - click here to buy
Water Milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) - click here to buy - available April to early June only
Water Starwort (Callitriche stagnalis, but not hermaphroditica) - click here to buy
Fool's Water Cress (Apium nodiflorum) - click here to buy
Water Forget me Not  (Myosotis scorpioides) - click here to buy
Brooklime (Veronica beccabunga) - click here to buy
Water Mint (Mentha aquatica) - click here to buy
Curled Pondweed (Potamogeton crispus) (moderately fast) - click here to buy - available April to early June only
Branched Bur Reed (Sparganium erectum) (moderately fast) 

Plants suitable for a Stream Side:

There are many difficulties in planting stream sides.  Plants which will grow rapidly to bind the soil of the bank, may prove to be vigorous and invasive eg Norfolk Reed.  Although the stream may appear to be slow flowing, it may still be quite strong and eroding the bank.  Depending on the strength of flow, many small plants may be washed away.  Fluctuating water levels may also cause problems for certain plants.  The safest option would be to construct some sort of physical barrier to the water and then plant behind it eg driving strong stakes into the bank and back filling with soil.  Plants can be encouraged to cascade over the edge to make the structure look more natural. One other point; make sure you know who the stream belongs to and whether there are any restrictions on planting.  It may be a good idea to contact your local Wild Life Trust and ask their advice.

Marginal Plants for a Partly Shaded Pond:

Most pond plants require at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sun to flower and flourish.  Some plants will grow in shade, but won't flower and others may grow 'leggy'.  The list below includes plants which will tolerate shady sites with as little as 4 to 6 hours of sunlight per day.

Arrowhead (Sagittaria sagittifolia) - click here to buy
Brooklime (Veronica beccabunga) -
click here to buy
Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) -
click here to buy
Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus) -
click here to buy
Yellow Flag Iris (Iris pseudacorus) -
click here to buy
Water Forget me Not (Myosotis scorpioides) - click here to buy

Gypsywort (Lycopus europaeus)
- click here to buy
Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) - click here to buy
Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris) -
click here to buy
Water Mint (Mentha aquatica) -
click here to buy
Marsh Pennywort (Hydrocotyle vulgaris) -
click here to buy
Soft Rush (Juncus effusus) -
click here to buy
Pendulous Sedge (Carex pendula) -
click here to buy

Trees provide shade for a pond and the water is therefore cooler for wildlife, but they will add to debris falling into the pond.  Leaves and twigs will decompose slowly and may produce toxic gases (toxic to wildlife and plants), so it is best to try to remove any debris before this process occurs.  It is sensible to reduce the number of plants in a shady pond so that competition for available sunlight is reduced.

Oxygenating Plants for a Partly Shaded Pond:

Most pond plants require at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sun to flower and flourish.  The list below includes plants which will tolerate shady sites with as little as 4 to 6 hours of sunlight per day.

Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum) - click here to buy
Water Violet (Hottonia palustris) -
click here to buy

 Bog Plants which are suitable for a Partly Shaded Site:

Water Avens (Geum rivale) - click here to buy
Brooklime (Veronica beccabunga) -
click here to buy
Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) -
click here to buy
Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus) -
click here to buy
Yellow Flag Iris (Iris pseudacorus) -
click here to buy
Water Forget me Not (Myosotis scorpioides) - click here to buy

Gypsywort (Lycopus europaeus)
- click here to buy
Globe Flower (Trollius europaeus) -
click here to buy
Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum)
- click here to buy
Lady's Smock (Cardamine pratensis)
- click here to buy
Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) - click here to buy
Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris) -
click here to buy
Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) -
click here to buy
Water Mint (Mentha aquatica) -
click here to buy
Marsh Pennywort (Hydrocotyle vulgaris) -
click here to buy
Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi) -
click here to buy
Soft Rush (Juncus effusus) -
click here to buy
Devilís Bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis) -
click here to buy
Pendulous Sedge (Carex pendula) -
click here to buy
Sneezewort (Achillea ptarmica) - click here to buy
Marsh Woundwort (Stachys palustris) -
click here to buy

Plants suitable for a Fish Pond:

I wouldn't recommend fish for a small wildlife pond as they may damage the plants, eat the tadpoles & young newts and add organic matter (potentially increasing the amount of algae produced).  

Plants suitable for a Duck Pond:

I'm afraid that ducks and plants don't mix very well - the ducks will pull the young plants up to eat them.  You would need to physically protect young plants from the ducks until they get well established.  

Pond Care during Autumn:

Remove as much debris (leaves, twigs etc) from the pond as possible to prevent it decomposing and polluting the water.  If there are trees nearby, you may like to consider using a net to prevent the leaves from falling into the water, but care needs to be taken that the net doesn't pose a hazard to wildlife.   Don't remove the silt from the bottom of the pond as it will contain over-wintering buds from floating pond plants and wildlife larvae.

 

 

 

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