Lilies Water Gardens News

Oenanthes for Wild and Formal Pond Planting

Oenanthes for Wild and Formal Pond Planting


There are many species of Oenanthes that grow wild in various wetland habitats.  They can be found in water meadows, streams, ditches, marshes, rivers, pond, lakes and bog-lands.  Most resemble weeds, so are rarely grown for use in the garden, but there are however, a couple of varieties/species that look great and are suitable for planting in all different kinds of water garden environments and one of these, is Water Dropwort.  This plant keep some of its foliage through the winter so can be categorised as semi-evergreen.  they are at their happiest growing in full sun or partial shade.


Oenanthe Fistulosa (Tubular Water Dropwort)

This one is my favourites.  Oenanthe Fistulosa has very attractive finely divided bright green fern-like leaves and puts on a lovely display of Scabious looking pincushion white flowers during the summer months which attract Bees and Butterflies.  They grow to a height of 60cm and come into flower between June-September.  Their preferred water depth is 0-10 cm.


Oenanthe Javanica Flamingo (Variegated Water Dropwort)

The name Flamingo refers to this plants fresh spring leaves that are bright pink and green in variation.   As the plant matures and grows throughout the spring and summer months, the variation of colours consist of pink, green, white, and cream.  The flowers are not quite as impressive as those of Oenanthes Fistulosa but are still popular and frequently visited by Bees and Butterflies.  Ultimately though, variegated Water Dropwort is grown as a foliage plant.  Height 20-40cm and flowering between July-September and preferred water depth is 0-10cm.



All of the Oenanthes species and cultivars are poisonous to humans and animals, but there is no need to worry too much about adding these plants to your water garden.  Animals naturally seem to know if a plant is poisonous however, children don’t and this should be taken into consideration when deciding to purchase these plants.

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The Common Names of Marginal Pond Plants Exsplained



The Common Names of Marginal Pond Plants Explained

The vast majority of ‘common pond plant’ names are self explanatory.  For example ‘Flowering Rush’ is a rush that flowers and ‘Cotton Grass,’ is grass like and produces fluffy cotton looking seed heads.  However, there are some pond plants that have common names that keep us guessing. Some of these are based on shape, colour or smell, but there are also other interesting names that have developed over time from folklore.  Although I cannot list every common pond plant name and definition,I hope the listings below create some interest –


Brandy Bottle – The flowers of this deep water aquatic plant smell of alcohol.


Bog Bean –  Named after its smooth shiny bean shaped leaves.


Devils Bit Scabious – According to folklore, the devil was angry at the plants ability to cure   scabies and other skin ailments.


Mares Tail – Apparently, this oxygenating plant produces leaves that emerge out of the water which look like horse tails.


Brooklime – This plant grows in muddy brooks and is a lovely lime coloured green.


Creeping Jenny –  The name probably comes from the word ‘chinne’ which means whooping cough.  This plant has been used as a herbal remedy throughout time to cure coughs.  Its name was changed to Jenny later.



Water Soldiers – Has bayonet shaped leaves.


Water Starwort – This plant has lovely star shaped floating leaves.


Orange Peel Plant – When crushed or rubbed, the leaves smell of oranges.


Sweet Flag – This plant has a sweet aroma when the leaves are rubbed or the tuber is snapped open.


Water Forget Me Not – God gave all plants a name and when he had finished, a quiet voice from a low growing flower said “what about me,” so god called the plant Water Forget Me Not.


Sneeze Wort – The Latin name for this plant is ‘Achillea Ptarmica’.  Ptarmica is apparently a Greek word meaning “to cause a sneeze”


Marsh Marigolds – It originates from the name of the Virgin Mary (Mary’s gold) and somewhere over time it became what we know it as today, Marsh Marigold.

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How to Attract Dragonflies with Glyceria Maxima



How to Attract Dragonflies with Glyceria Maxima


Dragonflies are simply amazing to see.  These giant winged insects swoop and dart around at great speeds whilst they catch smaller insects to eat though they are also seeking out a suitable water environment where they can lay their eggs.  However, it’s not just water that will attract them.


These amazing insects seem to have a built in instinctive recognition of areas of water that hold pond plants that are more attractive as a breeding ground.  On the wing in early summer to early Autumn, these stunning creatures are constantly looking for areas of water that contain marginal plants that have stems and leaves that emerge up out of the water and here’s why.  Dragonflies spend most of their lives as nymphs under the water, so when the time comes for them to take to the skies, the nymphs emerge out of the water by climbing the stems of their favored pond  plants and Glyceria Maxima, is one such favored plant as it has perfect stems and leaves for the newly emerged dragonflies to cling to whilst they dry off and expand their wings.


Glyceria Maxima is a lovely foliage plant with long narrow bright green leaves, the species is very natural looking, but there is also a cultivar called Glyceria Maxima Variegata that has cream and green variegated leaves.  The variegated form also has a trick up its sleeve.  In early spring March and April, the newly emerged leaves are quite literally a bright, natural looking pink, giving a spectacular show of colour to your water garden or pond.



Here’s to Glyceria Maxima!

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Pond Planting Explained for Beginners

Pond planting explained for Beginners

The only difference between adding plants to your pond or water garden compared to planting up borders in your back garden is WATER, and the thing that seems to confuse people the most is the different water depth requirements, however it does not need to be explained in a complicated way so to keep things simple I have made a short list below of all the water depth requirements for pond plants.

Marginal plants (where water meets land)

Deep water marginal plants (submerged 6 to 12 inches)

Deep water plants, oxygenating plants and water lilies (submerged 6 inches to 48 inches)

Free floating pond plants (water surface)

Marginal Plants

The plants in this category will all grow in very shallow water 0-6 cm water depth, in a natural environment this would be where water meets land, in nature this water level changes frequently due to seasonal weather patterns (drought and excessive rainfall) marginal plants have deep roots that can reach water levels in times of drought, these versatile plants can also survive weeks of seasonal flooding. In a natural pond we simply plant marginal plants straight into clay/pond substrate, in a manmade lined, fibreglass or concrete pond we need to use planting accessories, aquatic baskets, aquatic basket liners, aquatic soil and aquarium grave/aquatic gravel, the process of planting is exactly the same as if you were planting up patio pots or windowsill boxes, when the planting is completed you simply submerge the planted aquatic basket into the pond on a marginal shelf so the top of the basket  is 0-6 cm under the water.

Deep water marginal plants  

The process of planting for plants in this category is exactly the same, apart from the water depth requirements of 6 to 12 inches of water.

Deep water plants, oxygenating plants and water lilies

The process of planting for plants in this category is exactly the same; apart from the water depth requirements of 6 to 48 inches of water, oxygenating plants have very shallow roots so are best planted into specially designed shallow square aquatic baskets (20 cm oxygenating baskets)

Free floating pond plants

Most free floating plants are either tropical like the Water Hyacinths that have just been banned by the EU or they are invading nuisance plants that you will never want like Azzola and Duckweeds,  that leaves two species of frost hardy free floating plants that will grow in UK ponds, however one of those that goes under the category “free floating pond plants” is called Stratiotes Aloides (water soldiers) they are however incorrectly categorised in every magazine, book, TV programme and by every retail supplier, water soldiers are deep water pond plants that rise up to the water surface on long anchored roots and break the water surface during  the summer , they are NEVER free floating, this leaves just ONE frost hardy free floating pond plant suitable for ponds in the UK, Hydrocharis morsus ranae (frog bit) this very special non-invasive free floating pond plant has attractive leaves the size of a 10 pence and small white flowers and is suitable for all areas of still water.

Keep things simple and you won’t go far wrong!

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Pond planting in the autumn

Pond planting in the autumn

For any type of gardening, the planting is the process before the reward, so this makes Autumn a very good time to plant certain types of pond plants as they  will already be established and  therefore, put on a good display of foliage and flowers in the Spring.  There are however, certain plants that have rhizomes that should NOT be planted until March. Among these are bare-rooted Water lilies and Iris. Here at Lilies Water Gardens, if we have plants on our website that show on our website as “currently unavailable” during the autumn and winter months, it’s because they are out of season for planting.


Marginal Plants (Pre-Potted)

Pre-potted plants are suitable for planting any time of the year as their root systems are already established inside the pot.  In autumn, pond planting simply involves removing the plant from its existing pot and then re-planting it into a suitably sized, permanent aquatic basket which is then ready to be placed on a marginal shelf in the pond.  Always remember to follow the planting rules I have listed below.

1.) Always line your aquatic basket with a hessian or cloth liner.

2.) Always use a good brand of aquatic soil OR clay. If you have moles in your garden, the soil from their molehills is very rich in nutrients and therefore, a good choice to use.  NEVER though, use peat based potting compost.

3.) NEVER feed pond plants in the autumn or winter.  Feeding should be done in early Spring and early Summer but no later than the end of July.


Here at Lilies Water Gardens, we only sell pre-planted pond plants in solid pots rather than aquatic baskets and here’s why –

1.) Pond plants are quite often sold in 9cm and 1 litre ‘aquatic baskets’ and then advertised as ‘pond ready’. However over 95% of these plants (though there are a few exceptions), will then need to be re-planted into nothing smaller than a 2 litre basket, as the 9 cm and 1 litre baskets are far too small In size.

2.) Not all planting involves aquatic planting baskets.  Pond plants are often sold to be housed in natural streams, ditches, bog-lands, water meadows and natural clay bottomed ponds and lakes. So, there is no point in selling so called ‘pond ready’ plants in unsuitable aquatic baskets that more often than not, will just be thrown away. Solid black plastic pots are versatile and can be re-used over and over again in all types of gardening.



Caltha Palustris and Cultivars (King Cups and Marsh Marigolds) Bare rooted or Potted

Marsh Marigolds have massive root systems and like many other bare rooted perennials they love to be planted in the autumn.  Whether they are pre-potted or bare rooted, now is the time to plant King Cups, and they will definitely reward you by being the first to put on a magnificent display of yellow flowers in the spring.


Apponogetons (Water Hawthorns)

These plants with their large oval floating leaves and masses of vanilla scented flowers prefer cooler water and look their best in the autumn and Spring.  In fact, they hate warm or hot water and go dormant and disappear completely in the summer, so now is a great time to plant them.


Oxygenating Plants

Certain Oxygenating plants also prefer cooler water and look their best in the autumn and Spring. Included in these are Callitriche Stagnalis, (Star Wort), Hottonia  Palustris (Water Violet), Eleocharis Acicularis (Hair Grass), Vallisneria Spiralis (Ribbon Grass) and last but not least, Sagittaria Graminea.  All these plants will grow happily away and produce different shades of underwater, green colour right through the Autumn and Winter and at the same time, will be adding essential oxygen to your pond providing a safe haven and natural environment for all your visiting and residential pond life.


Our online store and very informative website is open all year around so please visit


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Pond Plants to suit all your needs

Pond Plants to suit all your needs


When it comes to planting up your pond or water garden, knowing where to start can be a daunting task.  There are a lot of factors to consider when selecting the right plants that will thrive and be happy in your existing or newly created pond.  Here are a few  to consider  e.g. pond size, the amount of light it gets, the water depth, your geographical  location, and last but not least, the right plants to attract wildlife etc,  and the list goes on.


Here at Lilies Water Gardens, we have created a simple online tool in order to make the whole process of choosing the right plants to suit your requirements, a much easier and less daunting task.  All you need to do is simply choose the plants from the categories that are relevant to your pond conditions, then tick any of the descriptive boxes that will give you more information on each plant you have chosen, and this will help you to draw up a successful planting list.  If the planting list is not big enough, redefine your choices and tick a larger selection of boxes.


Visit our homepage at and click on ‘Plants to suit all your needs.’


Choosing pond plants made easy!

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Hydrocharis Morsus Ranae-Frogbit


Hydrocharis Morsus Ranae-Frogbit


Everyone who owns a pond, wants free-floating pond plants as part of their planting scheme. However, there are not many to choose from as the majority are either tropical/annual such as  Salvinias,  Water Hyacinth and Water Lettuce or invasive as is the case with Duckweed that in my opinion,  should never be sold.  After that, we are left with two native plants which are Frog Bit and Water Soldiers. Water Soldiers are always sold as a free floating plant but are actually a submerged plant that anchors itself to the bottom of the pond by extending its long roots. It only emerges although still anchored, during the summer months and its leaves have a pineapple shaped appearance.

Frog bit starts its life as a dormant capsules which likes to over winter in silt or mud at the bottom of the pond or can even be found growing in muddy margins.  In April and May as the weather warms up, the capsule ripens and floats unfolding tiny plants onto the water surface. Within a few weeks, the plants resemble miniature Water Lily leaves about the size of a two pence piece.  The leaves have elongated roots that hang down in the water taking up unwanted nitrates.  Throughout the summer, the plant colonizes and spreads itself out on runners creating a carpet of floating leaves and a display of pretty, small white flowers during the summer months.  Towards Autumn time, the growth and spreading rate slows down and the old flowers form fresh individual capsules and when all of the last floating leaves have decomposed , the capsules will sink to the bottom of the pond to start the whole seasonal process again.

Frog Bit has many essential benefits when added to your pond.  Its an excellent nitrate remover and provides lots of surface cover which therefore, makes it an essential plant to consider for helping combat algae problems.  Also, it’s an essential choice for wildlife ponds as it is favored by our visiting Dragonflies and Damselflies.  The floating leaves are very good at providing hiding places for small fish, amphibians and other pond life.



The best and only true, free floating British pond plant that is frost hardy and has multiple commercial uses is available to buy from April/May on wards here at our Nursery Lilies Water Gardens or online at

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Innula Hookeri for Attracting Wildlife

Inula Hookeri for Attracting Wildlife

This often over-looked plant is simply amazing.  Inula Hookeri is a clump forming, moisture loving perennial plant that grows up to a height of 80 cm.  Inula produces a mass of bright yellow flowers that bring color and impact to any water garden during the summer months.  It’s stunning, large yellow daisy looking flowers, strangely twist open from attractive fluffy twisted buds, which attracts masses of Bees and Butterflies.

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

Inula Hookeri without doubt deserves its place planted next to water.   Loving full sun, it will also grow in partial shade.  In autumn, the flower produces seed heads that are food for many wild birds.   If you want impact, color and wildlife in your water garden, then this is a great addition to add to your water garden project or planting list.

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Blanket weed or Blanket Answer


Blanket Weed or Blanket Answer!

Every year as soon as the sun comes out and the water temperature rises, all beginners and enthusiastic, water garden hobbyists alike, at some point will be confronted with a surge of green slime also known as Blanket Weed.  This unsightly, problematic weed clogs up pumps, clings to liners and baskets and eventually,  invades your Water Lilies and other submerged pond plants in its path.  The hard work of cleaning out the pond is not the quick answer though, as the combination of the chlorine in the fresh added water together with sunlight, will just make things worse.  New or freshly filled ponds using tap water will often create the ideal conditions for a Algae Bloom and this includes, Blanket Weed which is of course, a type of Algae.


How do we solve the problem!


Adding Nitrate Removing Plants

Adding the correct plants that will eat up excess nutrients is always a good first step to achieving a lovely clear pond.  Planting marginal plants, deep water marginal plants, submerged pond plants and oxygenating plants will all help cut down on excess nitrates.

To create your list of nitrate hungary plants, visit our website and click on “Plants to suit all your needs”.


Adding Water Lilies and other pond plants with floating leaves

Pond plants that produce floating leaves are excellent for cutting down on sunlight and therefore, will help to reduce Algae and Blanket Weed problems.  I always recommended that somewhere between half and two thirds of your pond should be covered in floating leaves.

To create your list of “nitrate removing plants” or plants with “floating leaves and surface cover”, visit our website and click on “plants to suit all your needs”


Another Solution – Use Cloverleaf Blanket Answer

I love this non chemical, wildlife friendly product and use it all the time in my own nursery tanks here at Lilies Water Gardens.  Used as instructed to your own size of pond, it stops Blanket Weed in its tracks and what’s left,  seems to just give up and will sink to the bottom of the pond where it will eventually dissolve.Cloverler Leaf 2


 Adding Some Water Daphnia (Water Fleas)

This option for combating Blanket Weed will only work in wildlife ponds without any fish as Daphnia, is a favourite treat for hungary fish!  Daphnia feed on different types of Algae and by adding a bag of live Daphnia to your pond, will often result in 100% crystal clear water.  These tiny hungry helpers will literally eat, breed and eat more Algae until every last bit has disappeared.  Daphnia, we love you.


I hope the above information helps you to achieve a lovely clear Blanket Weed and Algae free pond.


Problem solved!!

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Caddis Flies

Caddis Flies


The Latin name for Caddis Flies is Trichoptera and there are over 7000 species worldwide and around 200 species in the UK.  Caddis Flies can be found almost anywhere where there is fresh water as they favour a habitat of lakes, ponds and streams.  Caddis Flies look rather similar to moths.  They are mostly nocturnal and are a good  food source for Bats, Birds, Trout and Salmon.

Ephemera sp. drying on Equisetum arvense

Caddis fly larvae can be quite destructive to pond plants if their numbers get out of control.  Spinning silk from their mouth parts, they bind small pieces of leaves and stalks which they take from fresh growing or decaying plants, and they wrap this foliage up into a protective cacoon in which they can live in.

When the larvae are fully grown they pupate by attaching pupae to rocks and pebbles, hatching into adults in late spring and early summer.  The newly hatched Caddis Fly then floats to the water surface where they emerge, often in their thousands, producing swarms of adults.  Like many insects the winged adults only live one or two weeks at the most and their sole adult purpose, is to mate and lay eggs in the water thus completing the Caddis Fly life cycle.

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