Green grow the rushes

Typha minima

Typha minima

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Most people would love to have a pond in their garden.

Some would be content with a small, tranquil stretch of water; others dream of a miniature lake filled with fish and buzzing with wildlife – reeds and rushes would frame its edges, water lilies would float on the top and a weeping willow would droop lazily into the water.

Sadly, for many, it will always be a dream, but for those who are prepared to put in the work and the cash, just remember that, like a dog, a pond is not just for Christmas...

Water plants are essential for the health of your pond. They can ensure that the water balance is correct and all that plant foliage is fabulous at absorbing carbon dioxide and minerals from the water – this helps keep algae at bay.

Choose the right plants and your pond will be aesthetically beautiful as well as providing a breeding ground for dragonflies, fish and frogs.

There are four groups of pond plants – oxygenators, floaters, marginals and deep-water aquatics. Each group is equally important to the pond’s wellbeing.

Oxygenators are normally completely submerged. Water milfoil is very effective in a small pond, or try willow moss which is evergreen and slow-growing.

Floaters or free-floating plants have roots that dangle in the water as they float around on the surface. Floaters include frog-bit, water lettuce and water soldier. Water hyacinth is a flowering floater but it needs a good summer to flower. Avoid duck-weed as it can be invasive.

Marginal plants grow at the edge of the pond in shallow water. They are normally planted in baskets using aquatic compost. Try Typha minima, the dwarf bulrush, or Hippuris vulgaris (mare’s tail), although the latter can become invasive.

One of the stars of the marginal world has to be Acorus calamus, commonly known as Sweet Flag, belongs to the marginal group, which means it likes to grow in shallow water. Acorus calamus will grow well in full sun. Its flowers are spike-like and fairly insignificant but this plant is grown for its zesty and fragrant foliage. Divide established clumps every three or four years.

Deep-water aquatics have their foliage above the water’s surface but have roots that are in water that is at least 45cm 
deep. Water hawthorn (aponogeton) is scented, long-flowering and will tolerate moving water and some shade.

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