An Essential Part of the Eco-System
Plants bring a new level of beauty to any pond, but they are much more than just good looks! Plants are the natural workers of a pond ecosystem. They use nutrients that fish are adding to the water and therefore become living filters! Too many nutrients in the water can cause algae blooms. Too much sun on the water can contribute to algae growth as well. While your plants are sitting there looking beautiful, they’re actively providing filtration. When plants cover 30 to 40% of the surface area of the pond, it will reduce the temperature of the pond, helping reduce algae blooms.
In addition to filtration, your plants are good for the fish. They create a shady place for fish to relax. Some fish will nibble on the roots of floating plants like water hyacinth or water lettuce. Both of these will spread and can be quite lovely. Here in Colorado these are annual plants, so they will die off when the winter weather comes. If your fish have babies, plants offer a great place for them to hide.
The Benefits of Floating Plants
Floating plants are a great addition to a pond, shading it, reducing the water temperature, and helping to reduce algae.
Floating plants 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.
Cattails - Going in with Eyes Wide Open!
Do you love the look of cattails? Many people do, but before you plop those bad-boys in your pond, make sure you know what variety you have and how they will affect your pond. While they do offer a safe haven for tiny fish and other wildlife, they are also a very invasive species. These wetland plants spread their seeds through the pretty fluffy seed heads we all enjoy. They also spread through the use of runners! Yes! Their rhizomatous root systems spread quickly and can take over a small backyard pond in no time. They create a massive mat of dense roots that can be extremely hard to pull up.
Some people have planted them in pots to help curb propagation and although it may slow them down, it won’t stop them. Colorado Pond Pros has been called numerous times to pull out cattails, and sometimes we can’t because it could damage the liner. Be sure you understand them before you put them in your pond!