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Water Garden Plants

Plants add interest to any water garden. There is a wide variety of aquatic plants, and they are easily available through garden centers, catalogs, and online suppliers. Generally, you will want to cover one third of the surface of the water with plants. Crowding more than that in will lower the oxygen level of the water and make the plants more susceptible to diseases and pests. Simple, bold clumps of a few varieties make a better design than too many individual species.

There are four types of aquatic plants. Consider how you want to use them when buying for your water garden:

Submerged plants sit on the bottom of the water feature. They produce beneficial oxygen and often contain other forms of life that help create a richer water environment. You will probably need to weigh down these plants in their containers by using small rocks or metal collars so that their roots stay on the bottom. Make sure that these plants are native to your area, as some imported varieties will grow so vigorously that they will kill off other plants.

Shallow water and bog plants should be located on built in shelves or at water soaked edges of water features. They may also need to be weighted down to stay below water level. These plants will die if they completely dry out. Many of them will die back in the winter but return in the spring. There are many varieties, so carefully consider their differing needs by reading the care labels.

Floating plants live by soaking up nutrients with the fine root hairs that they suspend in the water. Make sure that these plants do not cover too much of the surface of the water as they can shade out submerged plants, although floating plants are easy to pull or rake out if they become too numerous. Many of these floating plants will not survive a frost.

Floating leaf plants should be grown in pots placed upright on the bottom of the water feature so that the round or oval leaves look attractive on the surface. Water lilies are a popular choice of this type. You will need to remove excess and dying leaves to keep these plants looking their best.

Marginal aquatic plants that like damp, but not consistently wet, soil can also provide interest to the areas immediately adjacent to water features by adding contrasting scale, color and form. They can soften the edges of ponds and reflect in the water. These plants may need additional watering, especially when they are first planted.

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