Gardening in the ground and gardening in water share much in common. The idea of matching the right plant to the right place and designing for contrasting or complementary colors, textures and forms applies to water gardens, too.
And just as the selection of garden plants continues to increase, so does the selection of aquatic plants. We generally divide water plants into three categories:
Most aquatic plants thrive in full sun – six hours or more a day. Aquatic plants are a must-have for any water garden. Not only are they beautiful, but they help maintain water quality and a good ecosystem.
We’ll describe each of these types of plants below, with specific varieties that Merrifield Garden Center typically stocks during the season. However, due to a various reasons, we may not have every variety at all times. To make sure that we have the exact variety you are looking for in stock, please call us.
Floating plants are an asset because they bring beauty and shade to a pond. The general rule of thumb is if a pond gets a half day or more of sunlight, it needs about 50% of its surface shaded. That’s best achieved with plants floating on the surface of the water. These plants include:
- Hardy water lilies
- Tropical water lilies
- Water hyacinths
- Water lettuce
Tropical water lilies bloom in vibrant colors of blue, lavender, red and more. They’re more prolific and bloom longer than hardy water lilies, often flowering from June to November. Some varieties bloom in the evening so you can still enjoy the flowers when you get home. Even though they cost more than hardy lilies and must be replaced every year, tropical water lilies offer so much beauty they are well worth the extra expense.
Of all the water plants, the underwater plants are arguably the most important because they provide oxygen to the pond and help create habitat for fish. These plants include:
Often called marginal plants, bog plants live in the shallow depths of a pond - even in a consistently wet area of your yard. These plants, which prefer about four hours of sunlight a day, provide eye-catching beauty with gorgeous flowers. And they help keep the algae level down. These plants include:
- Hardy Bog Plants
- Parrot's Feather
- Tropical Bog Plants
- Umbrella Palm
- And Much More
Papyrus and umbrella palm are great tropical plants for the water garden, with stems that shoot straight up out of the water and flower in late summer. Papyrus form large “puffs” of green, while the flowers of umbrella palm are small and inconspicuous sitting atop umbrella-like foliage. These plants provide color, but what really makes them stand out is their upright growth habit, which adds a vertical form to an otherwise flat environment. Papyrus can grow to be quite large, 6’ or more – although dwarf varieties that stay under 2’ are available. Umbrella palms grow to 3’ to 4’ tall.