Caring for Your New Water Garden
Most aquatic plants are hungry feeders and appreciate a good supply of nutrients throughout the growing season. Unless
indicated otherwise, Green Vista aquatic plants have already been fertilized in the spring when you receive them. A
second application of Aquatic TabsTM (2-3 months slow release) fertilizer tablets about July 15 will do a good job
for most of your plants. Tropical lilies and especially lotus will benefit from applications about every 4-6 weeks
during the summer. Waste from pond fish will provide supplemental fertilizer during the season.
One exception to this fertilizing program are potted submerged plants such as anacharis and cabomba. 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 pond plants (i. e. hornwort) do not produce roots and are simply weighted down to
the bottom of the water garden with lead weights or stones. However, others (i.e. anacharis) prefer
to be placed in a small pot with field soil or a mixture of sand and field soil (no potting soil) in order for them
to flourish. The pots should be topped off with gravel/stone etc., to prevent the pond 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 fish are being kept, use larger stones (that the Koi can't move) or place a small piece of
screen over the top of the pot. If your pond 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 pond plants will usually do the trick.
Submerged pond plants should be kept at a depth of 18-30". If you are adding submerged plants to a
water garden 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.
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. Field soil (yep, good old Ohio clay!-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.
As your pond fish grow (and spawn!) it may become necessary to find some a more spacious home. We
recommend common goldfish, black moors, shubunkins or a variation on the common goldfish for
a beginning garden pond. Japanese Koi are large growing fish that do not adapt well to small
water gardens, and have special care requirements. Please ask for more information if you would
like to include these colorful fish in your water garden.
Your pond fish will require little food the first few weeks. Try feeding them about the same time
3-4 times a week but remove any food not consumed within 10 minutes. Do not be surprised if it takes your fish a
few weeks to come to the surface at feeding time. Stop feeding whenever water temperatures drop below 45-50 degrees
(usually about late-October). Always keep in mind, feeding pond fish is optional as long as your pond
is not heavily overstocked and has a full compliment of plants. There is plenty of natural food in the average
water garden for your fish!
Caring for Your New Water Garden cont.