Plant Care Buying Guide

A guide to buying plants for your pond or water garden

 Most aquatic plants are hungry feeders and appreciate a good supply of nutrients throughout the growing season. Regular applications of a fish safe fertilizer such as Aquatic-Tabs (slow release) tablets will do a good job for most of your water plants. Tropical water lilies and especially lotus will benefit from applications about every 4 weeks during the summer.

The size of the plant container helps determine the amount of fertilizer to use; an example: we use 8” diameter pots for some bog plants and add 2 fertilizer tablets monthly during the growing season.   

One exception to this fertilizing program are submerged plants such as anacharis and camboba. These plants draw their nutrients directly from the water and should not be supplied with additional fertilizer!

Any spent flowers and yellow leaves should be pinched off near the base of the plants on a regular basis. It is normal for water lilies especially, to shed older leaves throughout the season.

Some submerged water plants (i. e. hornwort) do not produce roots and are simply weighted down to the bottom of the pond with lead weights or stones. However, others (i.e. anacharis) need to be placed in a small pot with aquatic soil or a mixture of sand and clay (no potting soil) in order for them to flourish. The pots should be topped off with gravel/stone etc., to prevent fish from digging into the pots and disturbing the soil. If the tops grow too large and come to the surface, they can be pinched off as needed to control their size.


If koi are being kept, use larger stone (that the koi can’t move) or place a small piece of screen over the top of the pot. If your fish are persistent and continue to pull, play (and eat)  your young submerged plants, it may be necessary to try a less palatable variety (hornwort is the best option). If all else fails,  a screened cage placed over the young submerged plants will usually do the trick.   

Submerged plants should be kept at a depth of 18-30”. If you are adding submerged plants to a pond with murky, cloudy water, place them close enough to the surface to receive light. Then, as they grow, gradually lower them to the recommended depth.

Do not add dye to ponds with submerged plants because you will block the sunlight they need to grow.


Aquatic plants are generally very aggressive growers and need to be divided and/or repotted every couple years on average.  Water lilies and lotus in particular will benefit from larger pots (and additional fertilizer).  Dividing for most bog plants is simply done with a sharp knife in spring or summer in the same way you would do other perennials such as daylilies, iris, etc. Hardy water lilies can be divided from mid-April till about August 15. Lotus should only be divided in early spring before any new growth starts. A clay/sand mixture or field soil (no potting soil) is considered the best media to use (topping off with gravel etc.). Choose pots wider than tall for best results. Pots specifically for aquatic plants can be purchased for convenience.