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Submerged Water and Oxygenating Pond Plants

Submerged Water Plants – Choosing And Planting Oxygenating Pond Plants

courtesy to : By: Susan Patterson, Master Gardener

Adding a water feature to your landscape adds beauty and promotes relaxation. Properly designed and maintained water gardens and small ponds include a number of different kinds of plants that actively support a healthy aquatic environment. Aquatic plants are divided into four groups including floating plants, emergent plants, algae, and submerged plants. Submerged water plants play an extremely vital role in the pond environment. Let’s learn more about these oxygenating pond plants.


What are Oxygenating Plants?


Submerged water plants are also known as oxygenating pond plants because they actually filter the pond water. Submerged plants also keep algae growth under control and provide oxygen. Submerged plants grow fully immersed in water and get their nutrients from the water through their leaves, not their roots like other plants. Plants that grow completely under water provide shelter for fish, oxygen to the water and filter out pollutants.


Common Submerged Water Plants


Here is a small listing for some popular oxygenating pond plants commonly added to these aquatic environments:

- American Pondweed : perennial plant with both floating and submerged leaves


- Bushy Pondweed : annual plant with dark green to greenish-purple, ribbon-like leaves and forms dense stands


- Hornwort : sometimes called coontail, dark olive-green, rootless perennial plant that grows in dense colonies .


-Eelgrass : also called tapegrass or wild celery, a rooted submerged plant that performs well in flowing water and has thin, ribbon-like leaves that resemble celery


- Egeria : produces dark green lance-like leaves in whorls that become dense near the tips


- Elodea : multi-branched perennial with dark green blade-like leaves and white, waxy flowers that float across the water, perfect for preventing algae


- Parrotfeather : submerged perennial plant usually grown in shallow water, has gray-green thickly bunched and frilly divisions for a feather-like appearance


- Water Stargrass :  grass-like with thin branching dark-green stems that can grow up to 6 feet and forms floating colonies, bright yellow flowers .


- Cabomba : subtropical plant with bright green fan-like leaves and lovely white flower on the water’s surface


How to Plant Submerged Plants
One bunch of submersed water plants per one square foot of water surface will keep the water clean and oxygenated whenever these oxygenating pond plants are added to a water garden. They are generally placed in pots and positioned in shallow water or placed one to two feet below the water surface.

Submerged plants can also be held down under water with heavy rocks. If you pot your plants, be sure to use a heavy garden soil, a pot without drainage holes and cover the soil with gravel so that it does not escape.


Depending on the variety of your submerged water plants, a slow release fertilizer may be required for optimal growth. Also, if you live in a cold climate, you may have to overwinter your submerged plants.

NOTE: The use of native plants in a home water garden (referred to as wild harvesting) can be risky if you have fish in your pond, as most natural water features are host to a plethora of parasites. Any plants taken from a natural water source should be quarantined overnight in a strong solution of potassium permanganate to kill any parasites prior to introducing them into your pond. That being said, it is always best to obtain water garden plants from a reputable nursery.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Submerged Water Plants – Choosing And Planting Oxygenating Pond Plants


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Many pond owners overlook submerged plants because they don’t provide the visual appeal of surface plants such as hyacinths or water lilies. However, there are a number of key benefits that submerged plants will bring to your water garden or pond, and below are some reasons you should consider adding them.


Submerged Plants Defend Your Fish Against Predators


Certain species of fish such as Koi can be very costly to acquire, and the last thing you want is for them to end up in the stomach of a predator such as a cat, raccoon or bird. Submerged plants give Koi fish the ability to hide whenever they detect predators. The fish will swim beneath the plants and can also use them for camouflage.


Submerged Plants Provide Space For Spawning


The root leaves and stems of submerged plants provide the fish with ideal locations for placing their eggs. Once the eggs hatch the plants will protect them while offering a food source and a comfortable domicile. A good plant for this purpose is the Vallisneria, which has the appearance of a ribbon. It will provide grass like meadows beneath the water’s surface.


Submerged Plants Provide Oxygen


Underwater plants are sometimes known as oxygenators, and this is because they produce oxygen naturally. It is a byproduct of the process known as photosynthesis, and is essential for the healthy functioning of the pond and all the animals within it. When submerged plants are combined with a good aeration system the result will be water which is significantly cleaner.


Additional Things To Consider


While there are many underwater species of plants, some of the best for water gardens and ponds include Red Ludwigia, Red Stemmed Parrot’s Feather, and Vallisneria. While the installation of such plants may seem complex, they are not. You will want to make use of planting baskets, oxygenators and plant media. Each plant basket should be placed at the pond’s bottom, or it can also be placed on a plant shelf along the pond’s side walls.


The purpose of these plant baskets is to prompt the roots of the plants to extend outward and acquire nourishment while containing the plant and preventing the fish from eating the roots. Plant baskets come in different sizes so it is important to choose one which is best for your pond. The best plant baskets have sides made from mesh which allow for nourishment from the water. Plant baskets are not always rounded and can be purchased in less common shapes such as square or even the shape of a kidney.


Ponds differ in shape and you will want to select your plant basket accordingly. The plant basket allows various species of underwater plants to be installed in various areas of your pond with ease and low cost. While surface plants will provide your pond with visual appeal, it is the submerged plants which will keep the fish protected while maintaining the health, vitality and longevity of the pond itself.



How to Plant Submerged Pond Plants

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Oxygen production is important to the health of ponds, since low levels of oxygen production encourage algae growth and make it difficult for fish and other animals to survive. Submerged plants are sometimes referred to as oxygenators because they release much-needed oxygen into the water. Oxygenators such as waterweed (Elodea canadensis) and coontail (Ceratophyllum demersum) should be placed with one plant for every 2 to 4 square feet of surface area to ensure proper pond oxygen levels.


1-Fill a bucket or other large container with water from your pond and place your plant in it while you prepare a planting container. This ensures that the plant's roots and leaves don't dry out and starts the process of acclimating the plant to your pond.


2-Prepare a mix of soil and gravel to plant your pond plants in, using either equal parts or slightly more gravel than soil. Unlike garden plants, you don't need nutrient-rich soil for plants that grow fully submerged; the mixture will only serve as an anchor, since he plant will take in nutrients from the water around it.


3-Fill a mesh planting basket designed for use underwater or shallow plastic tray approximately two-thirds full with your soil and gravel mix. Dampen the mixture if desired to help prevent air pockets or other empty space within the soil.


4-Remove your plant from the pond water and place the plant in your prepared basket or container. Work the roots into the soil and gravel mixture, making sure that you don't break or otherwise damage them. Carefully add more gravel to the basket, covering the soil mixture and the roots to aid soil retention and better secure the roots.


5-Submerge the plant and basket in your pond as soon as possible, placing the container in the pond by hand or using twine or undyed cord to lower the plant into place. If placing the plants by hand you may wish to dig out a hole or other space in the pond floor for the container, though this isn't required.


Things You Will Need

  • Bucket or other large container

  • Mesh planting basket or shallow container

  • Gravel

  • Soil

  • Twine or undyed cord (optional)


  • Submerged plants purchased from a nursery or store that specializes in aquatic features often come in pots that can be placed directly in your pond without the need to repot.

  • If you do not have underwater planting baskets or other containers, you can secure your submerged plants by placing them on the bottom of the pond and covering the roots with gravel, or by using metal plant anchors designed to wrap around submerged plants.


-Some fish will forage underwater plants, potentially damaging or killing the plants. Consider using plant cages to surround your plants if you notice that fish in your pond are eating the leaves.

Videos :

Oxygenating Pond Plants for small ponds

Moneywort Submerged Oxygenating Pond Plants with Dmitri - Pond Megastore

How to Search for Plants That Bring Oxygen Into a Pond : How to Grow & Maintain Garden Plants

Oxygen from water plants

How to Plant Pond Plants Without Soil : Solving Plant Needs

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