Water Plant Care

Enhancing the beauty of your pond while supporting a healthy aquatic ecosystem is a goal shared by every pond enthusiast. In your pond, amidst the mesmerizing dance of colorful Koi and other pond fish, the presence of water plants plays a vital role. These remarkable plants not only provide a source of food and shelter for your beloved aquatic inhabitants but also contribute to the overall well-being of your pond.

Water plants, an essential aspect of any ecosystem, bring numerous benefits to your pond. They act as nature's water purifiers, diligently working to improve water quality. These remarkable plants have a unique ability to absorb and filter out ammonia, nitrates, and phosphates, which are common pollutants in pond water. By absorbing these substances, they help maintain a healthier and more balanced aquatic environment, creating a haven for your fish to thrive.

But their role extends beyond water filtration. Water plants offer a respite from the scorching summer sun, as they gracefully spread their foliage across the water's surface, creating natural shade. This shade not only provides a cooler environment for your fish but also serves as a natural deterrent to excessive algae growth. By blocking sunlight, water plants limit the availability of light energy that algae need to proliferate, keeping your pond clear and vibrant.

In the Canadian climate, where ponds face unique challenges due to fluctuating temperatures and varying water conditions, carefully selecting water plants suited to your pond becomes crucial. The right choice of water plants can ensure optimal adaptation to the local climate and water conditions in Canada. These resilient plants will withstand the changing seasons while continuing to provide their invaluable benefits to your pond.

So, whether you have a small backyard pond or a larger water feature, incorporating water plants is a delightful and practical way to enhance the aesthetics of your pond, support a thriving ecosystem, and maintain optimal water quality. Join us as we delve deeper into the world of water plants, exploring different species, maintenance tips, and the incredible impact they have on your pond.

Types of water plants

Floating Plants

Description: Floating plants are characterized by their ability to remain buoyant on the water's surface, thanks to specialized air-filled structures within their tissues. They typically have long, trailing roots that dangle freely beneath them. Examples of popular floating plants include Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes), and Duckweed (Lemna spp.).


  • Natural Filtration: Floating plants act as natural filters, absorbing excess nutrients like nitrates and phosphates from the water. By doing so, they help prevent algae overgrowth and maintain a healthier aquatic ecosystem.
  • Shade and Shelter: Floating plants create shade, reducing sunlight penetration into the water. This can help regulate water temperature and provide a refuge for fish and other aquatic organisms.
  • Oxygenation: Through the process of photosynthesis, floating plants release oxygen into the water, improving its oxygen content and supporting the well-being of aquatic life.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Floating plants add beauty and visual interest to water features, creating a natural and serene ambiance. They can enhance the overall aesthetics of your planter or water garden.


  • Light Requirements: Floating plants generally thrive in bright, indirect light. Ensure they receive adequate sunlight exposure to support their growth and overall health.
  • Nutrient Balance: While floating plants help remove excess nutrients from the water, it's important to monitor nutrient levels to prevent deficiencies. Consider supplementing with appropriate aquatic fertilizers if needed.
  • Controlling Growth: Some floating plants, like Duckweed, can grow rapidly and cover the entire water surface if not controlled. Regular thinning or removal may be necessary to maintain a balanced ecosystem.
  • Winter Care: In colder climates, floating plants may not survive freezing temperatures. It's important to bring them indoors or provide winter protection to ensure their survival.
Water Hyacinth Water Lettuce Duckweed Salvinia Large Water Lily - Tropical Large Water Lily


Description: Submerged water plants are specially adapted to grow in aquatic environments, with their leaves and stems adapted to absorb nutrients and oxygen from the water. They come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, adding visual appeal to water features. These plants contribute to a balanced ecosystem by oxygenating the water, reducing algae growth, and providing shelter for fish and invertebrates.


  • Water Filtration: Submerged water plants act as natural filters, absorbing excess nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates that can cause water pollution and algal blooms. They help maintain water clarity and quality.
  • Oxygenation: Through photosynthesis, submerged plants release oxygen into the water, benefiting fish and other aquatic organisms. They help maintain proper oxygen levels for a healthy aquatic ecosystem.
  • Habitat Creation: These plants provide hiding places, nesting sites, and shelter for fish, invertebrates, and amphibians. They contribute to the overall biodiversity and balance of the aquatic environment.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Submerged water plants enhance the visual appeal of ponds, aquariums, and water gardens, adding texture, color, and depth to the underwater landscape.


  • Lighting Requirements: Different submerged plants have varying light requirements. Provide appropriate lighting conditions based on the specific plants you have. Consider using aquatic plant lights or placing the planter in a well-lit area.
  • Nutrient Availability: Submerged plants require essential nutrients for growth. Consider adding aquatic plant fertilizers or using nutrient-rich substrate to provide the necessary nutrients for healthy plant development.
  • Pruning and Maintenance: Regularly trim overgrown or decaying foliage to maintain the health and aesthetics of submerged water plants. Remove any dead or dying plant material to prevent nutrient imbalances and water quality issues.
  • Water Circulation and Oxygenation: Ensure proper water circulation and aeration to promote oxygenation and prevent stagnant water conditions. This can be achieved through the use of air pumps, water pumps, or water fountains.
  • Seasonal Considerations: Some submerged water plants may go dormant or require specific care during certain seasons. Research the specific requirements of the plants in your planter and adjust care accordingly.
Hornwort Parrot Feather Elodea

Deep Water

Description: Deep water plants, commonly known as water lilies and lotus, are aquatic plants that thrive in ponds, lakes, and other water bodies with deep, still water. These plants have unique adaptations that allow them to grow and bloom while submerged in water. They are characterized by their large, vibrant flowers and attractive foliage that floats on or rises above the water's surface.


  • Aesthetic Beauty: Deep water plants are primarily used for their aesthetic appeal. Their colorful flowers and lush foliage create a stunning visual display that enhances the beauty of any water feature or pond.
  • Natural Filtration: These plants play a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance of aquatic ecosystems. They help in improving water quality by absorbing excess nutrients, preventing the growth of algae, and providing shade that reduces sunlight penetration and controls water temperature.
  • Habitat Creation: Deep water plants provide essential shelter and hiding places for aquatic wildlife, such as fish, frogs, and insects. They create a conducive environment for these organisms, supporting biodiversity in the water ecosystem.


  • Sunlight Requirements: Deep water plants typically require full sun exposure for at least 6 to 8 hours a day to thrive and bloom abundantly.
  • Water Depth: These plants prefer water depths ranging from 1 to 3 feet, depending on the species. Ensure the planter or pond is deep enough to accommodate their growth.
  • Fertilization: Regular fertilization with aquatic plant fertilizers is essential to promote healthy growth and vibrant blooms. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper application.
  • Pruning: Regularly remove any dead or decaying foliage and spent flowers to maintain the plant's overall health and appearance.
  • Pest Control: Monitor for pests like aphids or snails, which can damage the leaves or flowers. Take appropriate measures such as using organic pest controls or introducing natural predators to keep pest populations in check.
  • Division: Over time, deep water plants may outgrow their containers. Dividing the plants every few years helps control their size and promotes better growth.
  • Winter Dormancy: Most deep water plants go dormant during the winter months. It's important to provide winter protection by moving potted plants to deeper sections of the pond or using insulated covers to prevent frost damage.
Large Water Lily - Tropical Large Water Lily


Description: Marginal water plants, also known as bog plants or shoreline plants, thrive in the transitional zone between land and water. They typically have adaptations that allow them to tolerate fluctuating water levels and saturated soils.


  • Aesthetic Beauty: Marginal water plants enhance the visual appeal of water features by adding color, texture, and vertical interest. They create a natural and serene atmosphere.
  • Erosion Control: The extensive root systems of these plants help stabilize the shoreline and prevent soil erosion, protecting the surrounding landscape.
  • Filtration and Water Quality: Marginal plants absorb excess nutrients and filter pollutants from the water, improving water quality and clarity.
  • Wildlife Habitat: They provide shelter, nesting sites, and food sources for a variety of aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, including birds, insects, amphibians, and fish.
  • Oxygenation: Marginal plants contribute to oxygenation by photosynthesis, increasing the oxygen levels in the water and supporting fish and other aquatic organisms.


  • Selection: Choose marginal water plants suitable for your climate, water depth, and sunlight conditions. Consider their growth habits and mature size to ensure they fit well in your planter.
  • Planting Medium: Use a well-drained planting medium specifically formulated for aquatic plants, or a mixture of loam, sand, and peat moss.
  • Container Selection: Select a planter or pot with drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. The size of the container should accommodate the plant's root system and allow for growth.
  • Watering: Keep the planter submerged in water at the appropriate depth for the specific plant. Ensure that the water level is consistent and doesn't fluctuate too much.
  • Fertilization: Use aquatic plant fertilizers sparingly to provide essential nutrients. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for application rates and frequency.
  • Pruning and Maintenance: Regularly remove dead or decaying foliage to maintain plant health and aesthetics. Control excessive growth by dividing and repotting plants as needed.
Blue Rush Bloody Dock Water Iris Houttuynia Chameleon Little Giant Papyrus Variegated Cattail
Canna Umbrella Palm Marsh Marigold Taro Cattail Creeping Jenny
Variegated Broadleaf Arrowhead Pickerel Rush Variegated Water Celery

Maintaining your plants


Selecting the Right Fertilizer:

  • Choose a fertilizer specifically formulated for aquatic plants. Look for products labeled as "aquatic" or "pond plant" fertilizers.
  • Avoid using fertilizers meant for terrestrial plants, as they can introduce harmful chemicals into the water.

Fertilization Timing:

  • Fertilize water plants during the active growing season, typically from spring to early fall.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding frequency, as different fertilizers may have varying recommendations.

Fertilization Methods:

  • Granular Fertilizers: For potted aquatic plants, use granular fertilizers designed for water plants. Insert the recommended amount of fertilizer pellets into the soil of the planter.
  • Liquid Fertilizers: Some liquid fertilizers are formulated for direct application to the water. Follow the instructions for proper dilution and application.

Water Quality Monitoring:

  • Regularly test and monitor the water quality parameters such as pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.
  • Adjust water quality as necessary to provide an optimal environment for the plants.

Pruning and Removing Dead Plant Matter:

  • Remove dead or decaying plant material promptly to prevent nutrient imbalance and the release of harmful substances into the water.
  • Prune back overgrown or unruly plants to maintain their shape and size.

Controlling Algae Growth:

  • Algae can compete with water plants for nutrients and sunlight. Implement algae control measures such as using algaecides, adding aquatic animals that consume algae, or using natural methods like introducing floating plants to provide shade and reduce sunlight penetration.

Adequate Water Circulation and Aeration:

  • Ensure proper water circulation and aeration to promote oxygenation and prevent stagnation, which can lead to nutrient imbalances and poor plant health.

Regular Water Changes:

  • Periodically perform partial water changes to remove excess nutrients and maintain overall water quality.
  • Replace the water with fresh, dechlorinated water to avoid harmful chlorine or chloramine effects on the plants.

Winter Care:

  • Some water plants may be sensitive to cold temperatures. If you live in a region with freezing winters, take appropriate measures to protect your plants, such as moving them indoors or providing insulation.


Gather the necessary materials::

  • Planter or container
  • Fresh aquatic plants
  • Aquatic plant substrate or gravel
  • Aquarium-safe scissors or pruning shears
  • Clean water

Prepare the planter: Clean the planter thoroughly to remove any debris or previous plant residues and rinse the planter with clean water to ensure it is free from any contaminants.

Trim and prepare the plants: Carefully remove the water plants from their current container or source. Trim any damaged or unhealthy roots or leaves using aquarium-safe scissors or pruning shears.

Add substrate and arrange plants: Place a layer of aquatic plant substrate or gravel at the bottom of the planter, ensuring proper drainage. Gently insert the plants into the substrate, spacing them appropriately according to their growth requirements.

Fill the planter with water: Gradually fill the planter with clean water, taking care not to disturb the plants or the substrate. Adjust the water level to the appropriate height for the specific water plants you have chosen.

Remember to provide proper lighting and temperature conditions suitable for the water plants you are replanting. Additionally, avoid overwatering or overcrowding the planter to maintain a healthy aquatic environment.