Planting Instructions

To obtain the best results for your plants please plant as soon as possible after receiving them.  If you can’t plant them straight away make sure they are kept damp and have access to light.  Oxygenators that aren’t potted, floating plants, Water hawthorn and lilies should be placed in water as soon as you receive them, even if only temporarily in a bucket or other container, as they don’t like being out of water.

Plants dispatched in winter or early spring will show little or no growth, but don’t worry they will have a very healthy root system ready to spring to life as soon as the growing season starts!  At the other extreme in late spring or summer the plants occasionally may have to have their foliage trimmed to post them to you to prevent stems and leaves from getting damaged. 

We try and avoid having to do this and have commissioned some bespoke 70cm tall boxes to try and accommodate the taller plants to ensure they arrive as nature intended.  Where plants are too tall for the boxes some have a certain natural ‘bendability’  so we will always try and gently fold them into the box rather than cut back, however in doing so and in transit stems may break or crease so may need to be trimmed back when putting in the pond.

Please note that taller plants in smaller orders of less than 6 plants are more likely to be cut back as the bigger boxes require too much filling to secure them for small numbers of plants.

Whilst we endeavour to remove any duckweed and blanket weed from our plants occasionally small amounts do occur. 

Planting Instructions

Where plants are supplied in solid pots we recommend you plant into either planting baskets or bags using a good aquatic soil, or subsoil provided that it is free from fertiliser and herbicides, or directly into your pond if it is either a natural pond or you have used soil to create the marginal shelves.  Even if your pond is a natural, pond baskets can still be used, especially if you want to control more vigorous plants, have the flexibility to move plants around at a later date or want to lift and divide them.  For taller marginal plants to aid stability and prevent them being blown over stones or rocks can be put in the base of the basket or even better, a number of plants can be grouped together in a bigger single basket.  Where grouped in a single basket make sure the planting depth is suitable for all the plants.

Planting baskets should have a very fine mesh otherwise a liner will be required to prevent soil and nutrients being washed out.  For shallow ponds or ponds with uneven shelves and bottoms planting bags should be considered, as these will be much more stable, and tops can be rolled down to lower their height where baskets may show above the water.  For sloping marginal shelves, or where there are none, planting mats or floating islands can be used.

Please be sure to check our website for planting depths to achieve the optimum planting conditions for your plants.  Note that many planting depths are often shown as a range, e.g. 0-20cm where 20cm is the depth from the top of the basket to the surface.  These are broad guidelines but as a general rule it is better to plant shallower rather than deeper as most marginals are happy as long as their feet are wet.  In particular younger plants (supplied in 9cm pots) should be allowed to establish at a third of their maximum depth and 1 litre plants no more than half their maximum depth.  More established 2 and 3 litre plants should be ok at maximum depth, but this is not a target.

Marginal plants

Select the required size basket and add enough soil to the bottom of the basket so that the new plant in its root ball will sit just below the top, tap the basket to remove any air pockets.  Loosen any roots if there are a lot tightly wrapped around the plant and place it on the soil, then fill around the plant pressing the soil down firmly with your thumbs until the level is about 1cm (2cm if you have fish) below the top of the basket.  Water the soil so it is very wet and firm down again, adding a bit more if necessary.  If the plant has long roots, hold the plant at the correct level in the centre of the basket with the roots hanging down with one hand whilst filling round and firming the soil with the other.

Now add a 1cm (2cm if you have fish in the pond) top dressing of aquatic gravel or grit -this should be washed and lime free to avoid adding excess nutrients to your pond.  If you can’t get washed gravel it’s a good idea to wash it, much as you would remove the starch from rice, as otherwise, it will make your pond a bit cloudy.  It’s a false economy not to use gravel as it gives the plants some protection from disturbance by fish or wildlife, prevents soil from being washed away and the pond becoming murky from soil leaching into it and helps to weight and stabilise the basket.  It also gives an attractive finish to the plants.  Lower the basket into the pond at the required depth.  If, however, your shelf is deeper than the plants should be planted then raise the level of the baskets by means of bricks or stones.

The Bog bean we supply is bare root in the form of long bamboo-like stems with roots hanging down.  In the Autumn/Winter there is no foliage but in the Spring they will have good growth and healthy leaves.  If your pond is established they can be dropped in the pond and left to float where they will grow, however the downside is they will not be fixed in place and will float freely around the pond and they will not flourish as well as if they are planted with their roots in soil.  They can be planted in soil at the bottom of the pond up to 30cm deep by pushing the roots into the soil and weighing down with a stone.  Otherwise a square shallow 2 litre basket would be suitable:  just drape the roots in the basket, fill around with soil and firm gently, adding a layer of gravel.  The stem can float above or sit on the basket, ideally with the growing tip(s) at or just above the surface.

It is best to use a prepared feed for water plants, e.g. Ecopond Aquatic Plant Food, as this helps to reduce problems with algae. The plants should not need to be fed in the first season if the new soil has been used.  When potting on and in subsequent seasons a slow release plant food such as Osmocote Exact 5-6 would be beneficial, especially for deep water plants, irises and other heavy feeders such as Flowering rush (Butomus umbellatus).  These are very easy to administer as they are just pushed into the growing medium down into the roots.

Deep Water Plants

Use a planting basket to plant deep water plants.  The same principle applies to Water lilies, Water Hawthorn, Amphibious bistort and Golden Club.  All our 1-litre and above deep water plants and water lilies are supplied ready planted in a high-quality planting basket so can be put straight into the pond.

Use the same procedure as for marginal plants.  For lilies, if planting a bare root rhizome of the pineapple-type (mainly the native alba, Paul hariot, Chromatella), plant the rhizome in the middle of the basket making sure the growing tip is just above the surface of the soil.  Most other rhizome types tend to grow horizontally so plant the rhizome as above but instead of in the middle of the basket position it against the side of the basket with the growing tip pointing into the centre and angled up at no more than 45 degrees with the tip just above the soil.

Where lilies are supplied in pots they should always be potted on into a planting basket unless being planted directly into the pond bed in an unlined natural pond.  Even in a natural pond, it is an advantage to use planting baskets as it is easier to maintain the lilies and makes lifting and splitting much simpler.  As a general rule when potting up put dwarf lilies (Pygmaea) into 2-litre baskets, small lilies in 5-litre baskets, medium lilies into 5 or 10-litre baskets and large lilies into 10-litre baskets – see individual plant details on the website.  Any bigger than 10 litres and you’ll probably give yourself a hernia trying to lift them! Where a lily is supplied in a planting basket it will be fine for another season, however, if the roots are growing strongly outside their existing basket it would benefit from being potted-up to a larger sized basket.

Deepwater plants should initially be planted no deeper than 25cm-30cm (10”-12”) until new leaves reach the surface, at which point they can be lowered in stages to their final depth.  Don’t be tempted to shortcut this process, as if planted too deep initially they may struggle to reach the surface and use up all their energy in the process, so may not flower, or will have a poor display!  For water lilies in good leaf in the growing season place at a depth so the leaves are floating on the surface or no more than a few inches below the surface, and they will stretch to the surface over a few days to a week.

Note that lilies generally need to be placed in a sunny position (at least 6 hours of sun per day) to thrive and should be in still water.  Some lilies are slightly shade tolerant and will be relatively happy on only 3-4 hours sun per day -these include James Brydon, Marliacea Chromatella, Perry’s Baby Red and Shady Lady.  All lilies are heavy feeders, particularly the larger faster-growing varieties, so would benefit from feeding in early spring with a slow-release fertilizer tablet to get the best results, and also when potting-up.


Hornwort and Willow moss do not have root systems so these can just be dropped into the pond: the Willow moss is either supplied in bunches with lead weights to fix it in place or as a loose bunch, and the Hornwort is loose and will submerge of its own accord.  Hornwort may sink to the bottom of the pond and turn black in winter to protect itself from freezing temperatures but will rise again in the spring when it warms up.

Water crowfoot is supplied bunched with lead weights for dropping into the pond, where it will then naturally root at the bottom of the pond provided it is not too deep for them.  If the pond is too deep, or it is a man-made pond with little soil or silt in the bottom then they should be planted in planting baskets at the correct depth: fill up a 1-litre basket with soil, tap it a few times to remove any air pockets, then poke a large hole in the soil with a dibber or your fingers.  Remove the lead weight and push the whole bunch well down into the hole. Now firm the soil around them, adding a good layer of aquatic gravel.

Starwort if ordered bare root does not come tied with a lead weight as the roots are very delicate and don’t react well to the lead. Gently remove the bunch from the bag and remove the elastic band which is at the main roots end. It should be clear which are the root ends, though they do tend to root from many points: fill up a 1-litre basket with soil, tap it a few times to remove any air pockets, then poke a large hole in the soil with a dibber, or your fingers, and push the whole bunch into the hole. Now firm the soil around them, adding a good layer of aquatic gravel.  Starwort can be a bit of a mass of leaves and root but will root from multiple points along its stems so don’t worry if it seems like you are burying some of the leaves.  Whilst Starwort can grow in depths up to 60cm we recommend that initially it is planted very shallow so the foliage is just above water level as this will encourage it to root into the soil in the basket.  Once established and rafting it can be placed in deeper water, but as it has different types of submerged and emergent leaves you may find some of the existing leaves die back but will be replaced by submerged leaves which will grow to the surface.

Other oxygenators are supplied in either pot or planting baskets (generally those in 1-litre sizes) -please refer to individual plant details.  Where supplied in pots they should be re-potted in aquatic baskets.

Floating plants

There is no work at all involved with floating plants, you literally toss them into the pond and they will carry on growing as nature intended!  Do not be alarmed if they disappear in winter as they simply rest on the bottom of the pond until the time is right and will reappear next season, usually in increased numbers.

For natural or soil filled ponds

For natural ponds, the plants can be planted directly into the soil of the pond.  It is still important to check that the plants are not planted deeper than their optimum planting depth.  It is a good idea to check the lowest and highest level of the pond (the summer and winter levels).  The plants will survive for short periods being too deep or too shallow but will soon die if these conditions continue indefinitely.

For man-made ponds which have been filled with soil or have soil margins the level of water will remain more constant but the water level may need topping up in hot weather.  It may then be necessary to resort to blanket weed treatment especially if tap water is added.  This can be resolved by adding barley straw at the beginning of the season in March or April, which will help to maintain the balance of the pond naturally, however, we would recommend the use of a barley straw extract, such as Ecopond, which is eco-friendly and faster acting.

Bog Garden Plants

These should be treated in the same manner as ordinary garden plants, the only difference being that the soil may be wetter. Should the soil dry out then flood the area with a garden hose, especially in hot dry weather.

If you are planting in a newly prepared area then the plants will be able to grow easily without being smothered by other plants or weeds, they can be protected with a mulch of compost or bark to keep them moist.

Planting Depths

The planting depth is measured from the point where the plant emerges from the soil to the surface of the water.  For a plant in a basket or planting bag, this will be the top of the basket or bag to the surface of the water.  See website for information on planting depths for individual plants.

How much gravel do I need?

Quantities given below are in litres.  A 1cm layer at the top of the basket should be sufficient, but 2cm is shown in case you prefer to add a deeper layer or have fish in your pond.  We sell bags of washed, lime-free, gravel in 1, 2 and 3-litre bags, and unwashed 20kg bags (approx. 13 lires).

                    Gravel Depth

Basket size



0.5 litre



1 litre



2 litre



5 litre



10 litre



2 litre



3.5 litre



Main Menu