Water plants will inspire you to find a sunny locale for your backyard pond

Part 2 in the series “Installing a backyard pond”

Garden Drama Dwarf hardy water lily Joanne Pring
Water lilies are the jewels of the water garden. This "Joanne Pring" is a hardy, dwarf lily well suited to a small pond or container.

Water lilies
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.

Garden Drama "Helvola" water lily is a tiny little yellow dwarf, hardy variet
"Helvola" water lily is a tiny little yellow dwarf, hardy variety.

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
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.

Garden Drama blue water hyacinth
Water hyacinth produce lovely blue flowers resembling iris or even orchids. The plants can be invasive. Purchase one at the beginning of the season and you will soon have many.

Garden Drama Water lettuce (upper left) combines with water lily "Helvola" and the branching habit of water hyacint
Water lettuce (upper left) combines with water lily "Helvola" and the branching habit of water hyacinth

Floating plants
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.

Garden Drama A lotus flower is a fragrant and magnificent thing
A lotus flower is a fragrant and magnificent thing.

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.

Garden Drama lotus leaf
Lotus leaves are stunning and reason enough to try this water plant.


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