Water gardens are easy to maintain and provide a relaxing environment for both adults and children. They're also great for beginners because they require little maintenance.
Here's how to get started.
Tip One: Big is not better.
You don't need to have a large pond to enjoy water gardening, of course, the
larger the pond the more plants that you can keep. In fact, any container that holds water is suitable for a water garden. This could include cover pots that are used for indoor plants, old bathtubs, and eskies, or even small kit ponds. Don’t let size stop you, some water plants can be kept indoors on a sunny window sill, while small balconies make great spaces and of course
Tip Two: Water lilies aren't the only plant for your water garden
If asked a group of people to name a water plant, then by far the most common answer would be water lilies. They are certainly beautiful plants but may not be the best choice for all types of ponds. Water lilies like still water and their leaves can become bruised, they certainly won't thrive, and they may even die. There is a range of plants that are well suited to containers.
Different plants perform different roles in the pond. If you have fish, then incorporating some oxygenating plants is an excellent idea Oxygenators grow predominately submerged in the water and it is this contact between the leaves of the plants and the water that allows them to oxygenate the water.
A good example of an oxygenator is milfoil (Myriophyllum crispatum) but there are many others as well.
Traditionally we think of plants in a water garden as ornamental only, but in many countries, water plants make up an important part of people’s diet. Not only can the leaves of plants be eaten raw or cooked, like Lebanese Cress (Aethionema Cordifolium) and water parsley (Oenanthe sarmentosa), but some plant leaves can be brewed to produce a tea and the tubers can be cooked and eaten in plants such as Taro and water chestnuts.
How to attract frogs to your pond
If you want to attract frogs to your pond, then it is important to use some tall or marginal plants around the edges. These provide cover for the frogs from predators, and they also attract insects which are an excellent food source for the frogs. A great frog-attracting plant is Frog Grass (Carex fascicularis)
Tip Three: Fertilise your plants
Plants in a water garden require the same things to thrive as plants in your garden. Light, carbon dioxide, and nutrients. Water garden plants have a short growing season, only putting on growth when the water and atmospheric temperature are about 10 degrees Celsius. That can be anywhere from 4 months of the year to the entire 12 months depending on which part of Australia you live in. They can grow at an incredibly fast rate, sometime doubling in size every 2 weeks. This requires a lot of nutrients, and this can become quickly depleted in water gardens that do not contain fish or have only a limited number
of fish in this. Aside from the nitrogen that is produced in fish waste, plants also require phosphorous and iron to thrive. The safest and most effective way to deliver this is with a specific water plant fertiliser. These contain the correct balance of nutrients to help plants thrive and when used as directed will not cause an outbreak of algae in the pond. Pond Plant fertiliser tablets are an excellent choice for this. They are applied by adding one tablet to every 12cm of pot every 1 month. If your pond has plants growing out of pots or they are floating plants, then you could consider using one of the liquid fertilisers that are on the market.
Tip Four: Use a pump
We have often heard the term that oxygen is life and it's just as important to life
in a water garden as it is to life on land. We all know that plants photosynthesize where they use carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.
What many of us overlook is that they also respire which means they use oxygen and produce Carbon Dioxide. If you have a combination of plants and fish in a water garden, then the plants alone may not meet the oxygen requirements of your little ecosystem. To ensure that there is plenty of oxygen in your pond, a small pump can be used to circulate the water. Oxygen diffuses into the water when the surface of the water is agitated. This can be done with a simple fountain head on the pump. There are pond pumps that are 240 volts, low voltage, or even solar so power to the water garden is not essential.
Tip Five: Divide and prune
Earlier I mentioned that although in some areas, plants in a water garden can have a short growing season. The growth that they put on in this time can be very rapid and they can become pot bound within a season. In mid-spring we recommend that any plants that you have had for more than a year in your water garden should be divided. You might be worried that taking plants out of pots and dividing them up could kill them, but a great thing about water plants is that they are very hardy.
In fact, they actually will come back even stronger a few weeks after they have been divided.
You should use a pond potting mix that is specially designed for use with pond plants to ensure that soil doesn’t leach out excess nutrients into the water. Cut about one-third of the leaves off your divided plant and cover the top of the pot with a fine layer of gravel to ensure that the mix doesn’t wash while the new plant settles in.
Water gardening is a great way to get into gardening. It doesn’t require much space and you can’t overwater the plants so that’s a bonus so why not give it a go?
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