All about Marginal Pond Plants

Marginal pond plants typically grow best in shallow water, and have their roots or rhizomes below the soil and water and their foliage for the most part above the water and for this reason are known as emergent pond plants.

Marginal pond plants are often underrated and overlooked, whether you are going for a natural unstructured wildlife pond or a more formal architectural ornamental look or a mix of the two, marginal ponds plants form part of the basic building blocks of your pond and are an important part of a balanced pond ecosystem.  They soften the transition between pond and land, provide shelter for animals by the pond side and a bridge from the pond surroundings to the pond itself, roosting and resting sites for a host of pond life and also help to clean the pond and keep algae in check.

It is always good to ensure you have a good mixture of marginal plants, providing for a diversity of wildlife, flowering throughout the season and a range of heights and textures.  Remember that for a balanced pond ecosystem you also need to consider oxygenating pond plants and deep water pond plants in addition.

Marginal pond plants must be planted in aquatic planting baskets if you have a lined pond with little or no soil in the bottom (including container ponds, barrel ponds and preformed plastic ponds), or they can be planted directly into the marginal shelves (direct planting) if you have a natural pond or a lined pond with a layer of at least 15cm (6in) of soil.  However, we would only recommend direct planting in very large ponds or lakes that have a deep-water area (preferably 1.2m [4ft] or more) into which plants cannot spread to prevent the entire area becoming overgrown.

The marginal pond plants we supply in the smaller sizes (9cm) are sold in solid pots, with the exception of Flowering rush which doesn't like to be restricted and grows better in a basket, so will need to be potted up into aquatic baskets.  All our 1 litre marginals and above are already planted in aquatic planting baskets in aquatic soil and are topped with aquatic gravel ready to go straight into your pond.

Planting depth for pond plants is the distance between the top of the basket and the surface of the water.  So for example if you have a marginal shelf that is 25cm deep and you put a plant in a 2 litre basket (13cm tall) on it, then the effective planting depth is 12cm (25cm minus 13cm).

The planting depths for marginal pond plants will vary from plant to plant and range from 0cm (wet or waterlogged soil) to 40cm (16in) or more, though most fall into the range of 0-20cm (0-8in).  As a general rule most will be happy as long as they are permanently wet in up to a few cm of water (see planting depths) so erring on the shallow side is better than too deep, where a pond plant may struggle to grow or survive.  See notes on the individual plant pages for each pond plant for guidance on its ideal planting depths.

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