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Water Garden Planting & Care Instructions

Pond plants are essential for your water garden. Floating pond plants, Submerged pond plants, waterlilies and bog plants are all essential in creating a balanced ecosystem in your pond. Refer to the instructions below for help in growing the plants we sell. Happy Water Gardening!

Floating plants are fairly simple. Water Hyacinths, Water Lettuce, Azolla and other floating plants, upon receiving, you will want to float them in a shaded area for a day or overnight to allow them to re-hydrate before putting out in the hot, direct sun. Once they have replenished their moisture, they simply float on the surface of the pond.

Bunched Plants, keep stems submerged, they will develop roots and can be planted or floated. For vigorous fast growth and more flowers on snowflakes and water poppy, they can be planted if you choose. Just a quart size container of soil in 3" to 8" of water, with floating plants getting extra nutrients makes them go crazy with growth and flowers.

Submerged plants should be placed in the pond immediately upon receiving them. They may be planted in a plant basket of pea gravel or weighted. Simply wrap the anchor around the base of the bunched plants and toss them into the pond. Submerged plants Anacharis, Cabomba, Vallisneria and Hornwort can be submerged to a depth of 1- 5 feet. Other submerged plants that are emergent, (Bacopa, Rotala, Mermaid, etc.) should be no deeper than 20-24 inches.


Hardy water lilies have a starchy/almost wood like rhizome that grows out in one direction. There will be new growth at the end of the rhizome, this is referred to as the crown. Place the tuber at a 45 degree angle with the non-growing end against the side of the container. Add 3-5 fertilizer tablets. Lilies are heavy feeders and should be fertilized every 3 to 4 weeks after planting throughout the growing season. Be careful that the fertilizer is not touching the roots as this will burn them. Press the soil around the roots being careful not to cover the crown of the plant. It is better to plant lilies too high, than to plant them too deep. DO NOT COVER THE PLANT WITH STONES. Hardy lilies go to the bottom of the pond 12" to 40" deep, depending on variety. When placing lilies in the pond, keep them away from waterfalls and fountains as they prefer still water. In a natural earth pond, place them in the side of the slope, 1-3 feet deep and keep the crown exposed to the sun.


PLANTING TROPICAL WATER LILIES - See picture below - Annual Lilies are grown where the growth points are 6” to 28” deep and prefer as much sun as possible. Make a mound of mud in the middle of the pot and around the sides of the mound push several fertilizer tablets into the mud. Tropical water lilies should be fertilized every three to four weeks throughout the growing season for best performance, use 4-5 tablets. Place the lily in the middle of the pot and let the roots go down over the mound. Add mud to about 1" below the crown of the plant. Be careful to not cover the crown. DO NOT COVER THE PLANT WITH STONES. Tropical water lilies go to the bottom of the pond 12" to 24" deep. Place the potted water lilies away from waterfalls and fountains as they prefer still water.


Plant bog plants as you would tropical water lilies, again making sure you don't cover the crown of the plant. The bog plants are shipped in 2" net pots or bare-root. If in a net pot, using a pair of scissors, carefully cut the net pot away and gently remove the plant, saving as many roots as possible. Place the plants in a shady area for them to adjust to the sun, wind and outdoor environment, as most of the plants are coming out of a greenhouse and need a couple of days to adjust to being outside. Most, but not all bog plants, we consider to have WET feet, but DRY ankles. Bog Plants after being planted in their new pots prefer moist soil until established and should only be in water deep enough to keep the soil moist. Basically roots in the water, foliage out of the water. Once they are established and growing heartily, the water above the top of the pot can be as deep as 1/2" to 3" depending on the size of the plant.


LOTUS POND PLANTS - See picture below -  Lotus are fairly simple to grow, as long as you follow our instructions. They do have specific cautions when planting and trimming them. They can grow in a pond and survive winters in all the USA. You can even grow them in a container on the patio, but too much freeze/thaw may damage the plant.

Lotus need water temperatures to be 50 degrees or higher when planted. If you receive your lotus before water temperatures are warm enough to plant in your zone - Simply store your lotus tuber in its’ original packaging, in the refrigerator until it is warm enough to plant outside. Lotus tubers are very fragile, be very careful when handling to not break any of the growing tips on the tuber. Lotus, even if a smaller variety need a wide, shallow planting container. Lotus need a lot of leaf growth to provide sugar to the plant to produce flowers. Stuffing a large lotus in a 12 inch container, likely won't provide the plant enough foliage to flower. Plant them shallow with only poor soil. Lotus like to start out using the stored energy in their tuber. Plant shallow, so this energy isn't wasted making 1 leaf from a deep depth. We start them at between 1 to 3 inches of water, for small varieties, and no more than 6 inches from the waters' surface for large varieties. A single small flat rock can be used to hold the tuber on top of the mud when planting, DO NOT COVER THE PLANT WITH STONES. First, you will get surface pads, then aerial leaves. Once you have one or two aerial leaves you can fertilize the lotus for the first time. DO NOT fertilize when first planting. In summer/fall trim stems only above the water line, as to not drown the hollow air chambers of the lotus. The hollow stems lead to the hollow tubers which can flood and cause the tuber to rot.


Suggested Containers for Planting Lotus
Any water-tight rounded container with no holes is acceptable for growing lotus. The size of the pot is determined by the type of lotus you are growing with larger varieties requiring larger pots. The mature size of a lotus will be affected by the size of the pot in which it grows. Using a bigger pot allows more room for rhizome production, thus resulting in more and larger leaves and flowers. Larger pots will encourage the lotus to grow to the larger extreme for their variety. Planting the same lotus in a healthy pond environment will allow it to reach its full potential resulting in a plant much larger than if it had been planted in a small pot. Lotus classified as Bowl Lotus are prized for their ability to grow in the smallest pots, producing miniature lotus that can be brought inside easily for a day or two when they are in bloom.
Suggested pot sizes are:
Bowl Lotus: Container 12" or less in diameter
Small Lotus – Container 15"+ in diameter
Dwarf Lotus – Container 16-20" in diameter
Medium Lotus – 16"-30" in diameter
Large Lotus – 24"-48" in diameter
Round containers allow the runners of the lotus to grow around the bottom of the pot in a circular pattern rather than being jammed into a corner.

The soil that you use can be from your flower or vegetable garden. Heavy soil with some clay is good to use. Stay away from commercial potting soils, as they are too light and will float out of the container. If you do not have soil available, Calcined Clay is a great alternative to soil for planting your pond plants. A 50-50% mixture of Calcined Clay and Topsoil works well for pond plants. Microbe-Lift Planting Media is Calcined Clay. We sell it in our store.

We carry planting containers, baskets and fertilizer for you to plant your water plants or you can use any container that you may already have, as long as it is the recommended size for the plant. If the pots have holes in them, line the bottom of the container with burlap, newspaper or some other heavy fiber material. Most bog plants will grow well in 1 to 2 gallon pots. Water Lilies and lotus perform best if they have more room, so a 2 to 5 gallon container is recommended. Small kitty litter trays make great in-expensive planting containers for water lilies and lotus.

To prepare the soil, mix the soil with water from the pond to make a nice thick mud. Then fill the pot that you have chosen to about 2" from the top with your mud mix. Newly potted plants can be placed at shallow depths until they become established.