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A basic guide to water plants for your garden

By Hosea Omole | Published Thu, February 8th 2018 at 00:00, Updated February 7th 2018 at 21:50 GMT +3
A good garden is a functional space that supports the everyday activities of the homeowner. [Courtesy]

Water plants are an important component of any water garden. Without them, a man-made water feature would look intrusive and out of place.

They encompass plants that grow in wet or moist soil next to water, plants that float on the water, water lilies and plants that are fully submerged in the water.

To produce a natural looking water feature, all the above categories are important. Here are some basic tips on water plants to guide you next time you wish to plant around a natural water feature.

Submergent plants

Submergent plants grow entirely underwater. They are also called oxygenators for their ability to add oxygen to the water during daylight. Aquarium plants and watergrasses fall in this category.

They also encompass the many underwater plants that provide cover and spawning ground for fish if you wish to have these in your pond. Do not underrate the beauty of submerged plants in the water garden.

Besides supporting aquatic life in ponds and aquaria, many have colourful foliage that glistens underwater, and several have flowers that float on the water surface.

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Floaters sit on the water surface with no need for a pot or soil.

All they need is a container that holds water, and they will grow right on the deck or patio.

Their roots dangle freely in the water, drawing nutrients that would otherwise cause an algae bloom. They also help shade the water, which is great if you wish to introduce fish in the pond.

Water lilies, lotus and hyacinth fall in this category.

They produce generous bloom and are a great way to add colour into a water feature.


Marginal plants are grown on the edges of a water feature. They grow with their roots in the soil but with most of their foliage above the soil and out of the water. They are also referred to as “emergent” because their leaves emerge above the soil and water. Some grow in soil that is only moist or wet, while others like to be in soil that is a few inches under the water.

Marginal plants can be more than six feet or less than two inches tall. Some form clumps while others will spread and rumble over the edges of the pond. They are important for softening and blurring the transition from the edges of the pond and the rest of the garden.

The writer is a landscape architect

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