Pond Plants

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Help and advice on shopping for: Pond Plants

Everything you need to know about pond plants

No garden pond is complete without plants. Whether they decorate the margin of your pond or root directly into the substrate at its base, plants bring your pond to life and create a natural environment that attracts insects and other wild animals. We stock many pond plants here at Swell UK, from colourful water lilies to floating water caltrop. All of our pond plants are shipped directly to you from our growers, ensuring they look their best on arrival.

What are pond plants?

Pond plants, also known as aquatic plants or water plants, are plants that thrive in watery environments. They come in many different colours, with bright yellow flowers, lilac flowers, pink flowers, or blue flowers, and many different varieties, from emergent plants to marginal plants.

A lot of our pond plants are available in easy-to-use kits. In these kits you’ll find soil (sometimes called aquatic compost), gravel, and the plant itself, all packed neatly into a planting basket. These kits are suitable for all kinds of ponds, from large ornamental ponds to tiny patio ponds (or container ponds and container pond).

What are the benefits of adding pond plants to a pond?

There are many reasons why you’d choose to add pond plants to a pond. Not only do they enhance the beauty of a pond and encourage wildlife to make a home in your garden, but they also create shelter both above and below the water. This is great for shy fish that need hiding spots to feel more comfortable. It’s great for other aquatic life too, like frogs, that lay their eggs in secluded spots away from predators.

Pond plants can also filter your pond water, removing built-up nitrates and using them as ‘food’ to grow. When a pond plant is pruned, trimmed, or removed from your pond, you’re effectively removing excess nitrates from your system. Some aquatic plants are better than others at filtering your pond water, like floating plants, but all do it to some degree.

Like other plants, submerged plants produce oxygen. This makes them great oxygenators in garden ponds that don’t have any other means of oxygenation, like a wildlife pond. They can work alongside oxygenating equipment like air pumps and pond fountains too, boosting oxygen levels in your water column and ensuring that your pond is kept a healthy ecosystem suitable for fish and other pond life.

Another benefit of adding pond plants to a pond is that they can help reduced algae growth. They do this by competing with algae for nutrients. The more aquatic plants you have the better, particularly floaters. These are some of the best pond plants at pulling excess nutrients out of your pond water. They also shelter your pond’s surface from sunlight, another thing algae needs to grow.

How do I plant pond plants?

This ultimately depends on the pond plant you want to plant, but generally speaking most popular pond plants are planted into an aquatic basket filled with a layer of substrate and a capping layer of gravel. Other types, like floaters, can be simply placed on your pond’s surface, while others, like water lilies, need to be placed at the bottom of your pond. Here are some essential planting tips:

To plant most types, start by filling an aquatic basket with your substrate of choice. It’s best to opt for a specialist pond compost; these are typically low in nutrients, meaning they won’t promote algae growth in your pond.

Then, take your pond plant and push its roots into this substrate, making sure that there’s enough growing room between each shoot. To finish off, cap your basket with a layer of pond gravel. This will anchor your pond plant in place and stop any pond compost from floating into your water column and potentially muddying it.

Once you've planted your pond plant, simply place it inside your pond - if it's an emergent plant - or on the edges - if it's a marginal. The only limiting factor on the amount of pond plants you can place in your pond is space, other than that you can go crazy and plant as many as you want! Whether you have a small pond on a balcony, or a huge lake in your garden, you can cram them full of pond plants and reap the many benefits that they bring.

What are the main types of pond plants?

There are many, many different types of pond plants, but almost all of them can be split into five main categories: submerged pond plants, marginal pond plants, floating pond plants, emergent pond plants, and bog pond plants. They need to be placed in specific areas of your pond to really thrive and require slightly different layers of care.

Submerged plants

These water plants stay below the water level of your pond, creating an underwater forest that your pond fish can wade through. They give your garden pond a more natural feel and help your pond fish to hide from opportunistic predators, like herons and domestic cats. A few examples of submerged plants include Hornwort, Elodea, and Eelgrass. These submerged aquatic plants are also great oxygenating plants!

Marginal plants

These pond plants thrive in the moist soil that surrounds the edges of your pond. Most types of marginals can be placed in shallow water – around 10cm deep – or in between the rockwork that lines your pond's edge. A lot of varieties will bloom in spring and summer, displaying vibrant yellow flowers, pink flowers, and blue flowers. Some popular marginals include Yellow Iris, Goat’s Beard, and Lobelia Cardinalis.

Floating plants

These water plants are perhaps the easiest water plants to care for; just simply place them on your pond’s surface and watch them flourish. As mentioned above, floating plants are a great way to control algae growth in your pond. This is because they grow very, very quickly. Some pond keepers may enjoy this fast growth, whereas others may get tired of the constant pruning required in the spring and summer months. Some popular examples of floaters include water caltrop and water lettuce.

Emergent plants

These types of aquatic plants root into the sides and bottom of your pond and send out pretty flowers that bloom above the water’s surface. The most popular emergent plants in the hobby are, without doubt, water lilies. There are hundreds of different varieties of these colourful pond plants; here at Swell UK we stock close to 40 of them! They range in colours from pure white to deep crimson.

Bog plants

These pond plants are very similar to marginals, often growing around the edges of your garden pond. They like really wet soil and a lot of sunlight. A lot of pond keepers like to create ‘bog gardens’ full of bog plants and native plants. Bog gardens are great alternatives to stylised ornamental ponds and don’t require half as much equipment, if any at all! They can be made on the margins of an existing pond, or simply in a waterlogged part of your garden. These bog gardens encourage wildlife to settle down and breed, particularly frogs and newts. There are lots of water plants and native plants that thrive in wet soil, but some of the most suitable plants for a bog garden include Snow Queen Iris, Bulrushes, and Marsh Marigold.

What types of pond plants should I avoid?

While almost all pond plants will have a positive impact on your garden pond, there are a few types that can quickly get out of hand if they’re not carefully managed. These pond plants are better known as water weeds and they include plants like duckweed, milfoil, cabomba, and phragmites (or common reeds). If left to grow unchecked, these pond plants will turn you pond into a swampy-looking jungle very quickly.

What accessories do I need to get the most out of my pond plants?

As mentioned above, a lot of pond plants come as part of easy-to-use kits that contain a planting basket, some pond compost, some pond gravel, and the plant itself. These are fantastic for first-time pond keepers, but if you want to dive a little deeper into the hobby then you’ll want to pick up some extra plant baskets and pond soil. This will allow you to take cuttings of your existing pond plant and grow completely new ones.

We also stock some other great planting accessories, like floating plant islands and pond plant fertilisers. Buy pond plants and browse our full range of pond plants and associated accessories by clicking here!