Planting Marginal Pond Plants
What is a marginal pond plant? The best answer is a plant that naturally grow and adapt to shallow waters. Marginal plants are true aquatics that will thrive where the water level meets the land. In the natural world, this is exactly what happens. As a grower and collector of plants from all corners of the world, I have discovered that all Marginal plants are very adaptable as each individual species has, through millions of years of evolution, found ways of surviving drought and flooding. Whether that is by spreading out over the surface of the water and creeping under the water to find their individual most favoured required depth, or by storing essential nutrients in their tubers or rhizomes to replenish themselves when nutrients are low, or just self seeding in times of drought. Each individual has their own unique means of survival, and that’s all down to evolution!
If you don’t have a natural clay-bottomed pond, lake or stream, and have a fibre glass or lined pond, the rules for planting up are slightly changed. Each species or hybrid variety will need help with positioning so as to reach their all important required depth. This is crucial to avoid exposure to drought or flooding. So, whatever you are planting, you must always be strict in maintaining that correct planting depth. This unfortunately, seems to be a forgotten, but essential element which is commonly overlooked in many areas of the aquatic industry. However, natural planting is very different from planting in fibreglass and lined ponds. All marginal pond plants have required depths that must be calculated from the top of the planting basket. Plants growing in aquatic baskets or planting bags will have no means of naturally being able to adapt to the correct water depth so this must be done for them. This is very important when constructing a pond. I always recommend that whilst your pond is in construction, you incorporate a few differently levelled planting shelves to house your plants on, and the more that can be put in, the better. I recommend 15cm, and or 20cm, and or 25cm, and even 30 cm levels to be ideal, and your plants will thrive. Unfortunately, this will not be so straightforward and easy with fibreglass ponds. Sometimes I wonder perhaps if the manufacturers of these type of ponds, ever take into consideration the needs and musts of the plants that will be going into them. Marginal planting can be a joy though, and I recommend out of all the planting products on the market today, planting bags are the best as they are very adaptable when it comes to water depth.
I would also like to point out the importance of feeding Marginal plants. On the bottom of natural ponds, you will often find a very rich, foul smelling back sludge which is often made up of decaying plant life, waterfowl and fish excrement. However disgusting this sounds, this thick sludge is extremely high in nutrients and is crucially beneficial to plant growth. This sludge fortunately, can also be achieved in fibreglass and lined ponds if it is left alone for a few years. But, in new ponds or newly cleaned out ponds, these nutrients don’t exist. Customers often ask me ‘if they were to feed their plants, would the nutrients in the water start to encourage blanket weed’. Well, the simple answer is, no! If you neglect to feed the plants you have planted out in your new pond, they will simply not grow and will quickly take on a yellow leafed appearance as they are starved out of those vitally needed nutrients, thus leaving algae and blanket weed to thrive, killing your plants along the way. Plants that do get the nutrients in the food provided, will thrive and grow strong and will quickly use up any nutrients in the water that may have been left over in the water for algae and blanket weed to take hold on. Good growth on your plants will provide good water surface cover and shade thus cutting back on the sunlight which it turn will provide little room for algae and blanket weed and less shade also means a healthier pond bottom environment for the production of that all important, nutrient rich, sludge. Healthy ponds produce healthy plants and healthy plants produce happy gardeners, FACT!