This part is still somewhat about the cosmetics, but there’s some more important stuff involved than just looks once you get inside the pond. In other words, we’re getting more into the workings of this little Eco system.
In a previous article, when we were discussing pond construction, we talked about the “ledge most of the way around the perimeter of the hole, about six to twelve inches down from the top and about twelve inches wide”. This is the plant shelf. All of the pond plants live IN the water, either on the bottom, floating on the surface, or on top of the submerged “shelf”.
Types of plants that live on the bottom of the pond are Anacharis, an underwater grass, Camomba, an underwater weed (but pretty), and Hornwort. They are all oxygenating plants and the Hornwort provides the extra benefit of being toxic to algae. Water lilies are oxygenating plants but more outstanding because although rooted on the pond bottom, the lily pad and blossom float on top of the water. Other top floaters are Water Hyacinth, Parrot’s Feather, and Water Lettuce. These plants will grow quickly and give your pond some needed shade.
Some of the plants that will do well on your pond “shelf” are Marsh Marigolds, Cattails, and Irises. The Marsh Marigold has a yellow flower and will bloom from sometime in April into June. The plant grows wild in swampy areas and only survives in soil that is constantly wet, so in pots sitting on your shelf, it is an excellent choice. Cattails are one of the most familiar plants found in swampy areas. They are very pretty but they also can get pretty tall. There are many different Iris plants, some specifically called pond iris, but many kinds of iris will grow in the water. Check with your garden center. You’ll find that having these plants around your “shelf” will give the added bonus of attracting hummingbirds, dragonflies, and butterflies.
All of the pond plants absorb carbon dioxide and minerals, which helps to stave off algae. Without the plants it would be very difficult to keep your pond water clear, even with a UV Light. I would recommend that the plants be allowed to grow and spread out until about half of the pond surface is covered. You will find that they grow very quickly, and before long you’ll be supplying some of your pond owner friends.
The great thing about many of these plants is that if you live in a cold winter climate as we do, you can just sink the plants to the bottom of the pond in the fall, and then in the spring pull them up again and you’re good to go for another season.