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Although is may seem obvious, aquatic plants are different to land based plants, because they have evolved to live in wet even submerged conditions. There are three principle groups of aquatic plants, all with specific needs:

Marginal or Bog plants - These are essentially the plants that stick up above the surface of the water and provide height to the pond. They can be planted into waterlogged ground or more commonly into plastic planting baskets, which are then placed into the water.

Planting Depth: 6 - 8 inches

Care: Plant into planting baskets using aquatic compost, when the plant starts to die back in the autumn / fall, cut back the plant to ensure that the decaying plant material does not pollute the water. Feed once a season with an aquatic root fertiliser.

Cultivation: Generally these plants can be cultivated by division in the spring, although because of the huge number of plants in this sections it's best to consult your nursery.

Hardy Examples: Water Iris, Pickeral Rush, Arrowhead,

Tender Examples: Papyrus, Umbrella plant, Water Cannas

Floating Plants - These floating plants have extensive root systems that dangle into the water from the surface, these root systems provide ideal spawning areas for fish like goldfish. They often reproduce by budding and as such can be very invasive. In some areas especially the USA they are prohibited by law because of the fact that they can grow so quickly.

Planting Depth: Allow to float unplanted on the surface

Care: They only care required is for tender variety if they are needed the following season. Take a strong plant in the early autumn and keep in pond water in a well lit frost free greenhouse. Periodically replace the water with fresh water. Stratiodes (the water soldier) sinks to the bottom of the pond in the winter and rises again in the spring.

Cultivation: Because these plants bud so easily, they can be cultivated by cutting the offspring away from the parent to produce a new plant.

Hardy examples: Water Soldier

Tender Examples: Water Hyacinth, Water Lettuce

Oxygenators - These are plants that are not very visable, as they are present under the water. But they can fulfil a useful role in the pond. They absorb nutrients, and can help to reduce the growth of algae in the pond. Calling them oxygenators can be a misnomer as although they produce oxygen during the day, they absorb it again at night. Oxygenation is best achieved using a pond pump.

Planting Depth: up to 18"

Care: These plants are usually purchased in clumps unpotted, and they do best when they are potted into planting containers with aquatic compost and dressed with pea gravel. Depending on the size of the container you should get 3 - 6 bunches per pot. You should have one bunch for every 2sq feet of pond surface.

Cultivation: When the plant becomes too big, simply cut a length off and plant up into a fresh container.

Examples: Anacharis, hornwort, cabomba.

Deep Water Plants - These plants have leaves that float on the surface and roots that are firmly placed in containers on the bottom of the pond. Water lilies are generally the best known aquatic plant. They are available in an enormous assortment of varieties and colours. Other plants like lilies are available.

Planting Depth: Variable up to 3'

Care: These plants should be in water that is at a depth specific to the variety in question. They should be planted in a generously sized container rich in nutrients, the compost should be covered with Pea Gravel and larger stones. If this does not prevent your fish from digging up the compost in their quest for food, then try enclosing the whole container with an old pair of nylons. These plants need regular feeding if they are to flower prolifically throughout the whole season. Dead leaves and flowers should be removed or else they will rot and pollute the water.

Cultivation: The lilies can be propagated by cutting sections from the rhizome, and planting in fresh compost . This should be done when the plant is entering the growing phase, not at the end of the season.

Examples: Many varieties of hardy, tropical, and night blooming lily, also water hawthorn, water fringe, water snowflake, and water poppy.