The benefits of floating plants are many.
Floating plants are a great addition to a pond, shading it, reducing the water temperature, beautifying, helping to reduce algae and even protecting fish from potential predators.
They are natural oxygenators and are the filter workhorse of the water. Water hyacinths float on top of the water and even have little purple blooms that are about 6 inches high. Their roots hang down below, filtering excess nutrients from the water. In the southern states these plants can be invasive as they propagate by themselves doubling their size in as little as 10 days. But they are only hardy in zones 8 to 10, so here in Colorado (Zone 5 on the Front Range) they offer filtration and shade to our ponds without being a pest. If they begin to overgrow just thin them out by removing some. They love hot sun!
Floating lettuce is another great filtering plant and give some more texture to the look of the pond. Their dusty green leaves are good in partially sunny or fully shady waters. They are also an annual here in Colorado.
Floating plants are an excellent source of shade for a pond. Shade helps keep the water at a more consistent temperature. For ponds that are not shelved, it can be a challenge to find a good place for marginal plants (plants whose feet are in the water but the main part of the plant is out of the water). Fish need to have shade. Did you know that fish can get sunburned? They can! Floaters are a great solutions! There are even floating islands that contain a mixture of plants.
Floating plants offer fish protection not only from the sun but from predators. If a predator can't see them, they can't eat them!
Caution if you have an IonGen or Ionizer.
Please note that if you have an IonGen (great for keeping string algae at bay) they inhibit the healthy growth of floating plants. (lilies are not considered floating plants).
A good healthy snack.
Koi may nibble on the roots of floating lettuce and hyacinth. But that is ok! It is a great source of vitamin D for them!
You might put these in an area on the side of the pond where there is less water movement. Another way to keep them from getting into the skimmer is to put them in a floating ring and then tie the ring with fishing line to a rock.
Want to read more about pond plants? There are a variety of aquatic plants! Click HERE to check it out!