Part 2 in the series “Installing a backyard pond”
Water plants are often what inspire a gardener to dive into water gardening. Water lilies and lotus reign as queens of the water gardening plant world and since both require full sun, siting your pond in the sunniest locale possible could be a priority for you.
Generally speaking lilies need to be about 12-18″ below the surface of the water (the top of the submerged pot, that is), so you can easily get by with a 2 foot deep pond and grow your water beauties. Lotus requires really full sun, at least six strong hours of it, but only needs about 6 inches of water above the container.
Marginal plants do well in shallow water and help naturalize your pond into it’s surroundings. They also give some height to the overall appearance of your water garden setting. A few of my favorites include: lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuous), rushes and sedges. With more of an emphasis on foliage vs. flowers, they give a season long visual punch and also soften the hard edges of the pond. The tops of their pots live happiest an inch or so under the surface.
Floating plants do just that … float, with their roots dangling in the water. The two stars are water lettuce and water hyacinth. Floating plants, along with water lilies, contribute to covering the surface of the water, which is your best defense against algae. Strive for covering 2/3rds of the water’s surface.
In my experience, growing a lotus is water gardening Viagara. Nothing is more exciting. I can barely describe the thrill of the bloom … enormous, like a small head of iceberg lettuce. Fragrant. A seedhead like a little museum piece … a Faberge egg. When I got my lotus from Soni Forsman, Queen of All Water Plants (Google her), she couldn’t promise me a bloom the first year. It is highly dependent on the summer we have. Well, the heat and humidity paid off and two blooms emerged last summer in the Garden Drama Test Garden. Remember, a lotus requires lots of full sun and heat. If by chance you don’t get a bloom, the leaves alone are reason to grow one.