Pond plants like water lilies, cattails, pickerel weed, and water lettuce are a necessary part of your customers’ pond ecosystems.  It’s important for you to know the different types of aquatic plants available and the critical role they play in the water garden so that you can educate your customer.

Aquatic Plants in the Big Picture

In the big picture, pond plants are a necessary and essential part of a naturally balanced aquatic ecosystem.  If plants are excluded from a water garden, the entire ecosystem is Pond Plants in a Backyard Water Gardenthrown out of whack.  Plants use the excess nutrients in the pond to grow, thereby stealing them from the algae, essentially preventing algae from growing.

Eliminate plants from a pond and you’ll have

– A pond without sufficient oxygen
– A pond without healthy fish
– A pond without aerobic (good) bacteria
– A pond without the ability to break down waste products
– A pond without naturally crystal clear water
– A pond without the ability to inhibit algae growth, and
– A pond that most resembles a pot of green pea soup

Water Lettuce - AquascapeThe moral to this part of the story is, don’t allow your customers to contradict Mother Nature by underestimating the value and function of pond plants in and around the water garden.  If they don’t understand the “balanced ecosystem” concept, then do yourself a favor and take 5 to 10 minutes to explain this basic aspect of water gardening to them.  Those 5 to 10 minutes could save you 5 to 10 hours (or more) of headaches and help you avoid unhappy customers in the long run.

Aquatic Plants in the Smaller Picture

If you’re not familiar with aquatic plants, or aquatic plant terminology you may be able to use this quick, user-friendly, guided tour through the mysterious, linguistic forest of water gardening.

10 Common Aquatic Plant Factoids You Should Know

Water Lilies - Attraction - AquascapeTo make it easier to remember, we’ve broken this information down into ten factoids you should know.  Here they are in plain English:

Terrestrial Plants vs. Pond Plants
This one’s easy. Pond plants live in and around water.  Terrestrials live on land.  So water lilies are aquatic.  Sunflowers are terrestrial.

Marginal and Deep Water Pond Plants
Within the community of aquatic plants there are those that live on the edge of the pond in well-saturated soil or gravel, and those that live deeper in the water. The first are referred to as marginal, or transitional, plants.  The second are referred to as deep water plants.

Invasiveness
One of the characteristics water gardeners concern themselves with is a plant’s aggressiveness; its tendency to propagate, reproduce, multiply, and grow at the expense of its neighbors.  The term used to describe this characteristic is invasiveness. It refers to a plant’s tendency to invade or aggressively take over and occupy a particular part of the water garden.  If a plant exhibits extremely invasive, aggressive tendencies, your customer will probably have to trim it back so that it doesn’t suffocate its neighbors.

Floating Plants
Plants like water hyacinth and water lettuce are referred to as floating plants for obvious reasons. These plants are excellent filters since they derive all of their nutrients through the water. They also tend to be annuals in most non-tropical climates.

Water Lettuce Floating on PondGeographical Zones
For plants and gardening, the world is divided into 11 geographical/climactic zones, which go from #1 (a tropical climate) to #11 (Antarctica). These zones are used to indicate where plants will survive, thrive, multiply, and propagate.  The phrase “this plant will be hardy up to zone 7” is how it’s usually expressed.

Rhizomes

Rhizomes are horizontal stems or roots on a pond plant.  Rhizomes serve as a mother stem off of which lots of baby stems grow.

Viviparous

In the animal kingdom this term refers to animals that give birth to living young (like humans) instead of eggs (like chickens).  But in the plant kingdom, it refers to plants that germinate while still attached to the parent plant.

Variegated
– Having to do with variety in colors and shapes, such as a variegated leaf.

Anthropomorphic
– Giving human-like qualities to something that’s non-human.

Equip yourself with pond plant knowledge so you can talk intelligibly with your customers, whether you’re a retailer or a contractor.  Your customers will view you as a reliable resource.

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