How to Start Plants in a Water Garden


A water garden can offer a soothing atmosphere, and creating and maintaining your own water garden can be a rewarding experience. Choose among a variety of plant varieties like water lilies, floating plants, bog plants and oxygenating plants, and include a few fish for some added interest. Starting the plants yourself from ones you already have or from a neighbor or friend's garden at the beginning of summer can result in lots of water plants within a month.

New Water Garden

Step 1

Fill the pond with water from the hose. Let it sit for two or three days to allow any chlorine to evaporate. Add a commercial water treatment product to break down the chloramine bonds.

Step 2

Fill a water plant basket or terracotta pot with topsoil to within a few inches of the top. Use your garden soil if you haven't added any fertilizers for the past 60 days.

Step 3

Remove any broken stems, dead leaves or decayed parts from the water plant. Plant the roots, or the tuber in the case of water lilies, in the soil. Cover with topsoil and a layer of gravel. Submerge in a bucket of water until the soil stops releasing oxygen bubbles.

Step 4

Place the plant in the pond at the appropriate depth. Water lilies should be at least 24 inches deep, bog plants from 2 to 6 inches deep, oxygenating plants completely underwater. Float floating plants on the surface of the water.

Starting New Plants from Established Plants

Step 1

Dig up a water lily tuber or raise its pot from the bottom of the pond. Clean off debris gently. Break off or cut the smaller tubers from the mother. Pot the baby in its own container or water plant basket. The best time is in the spring, when the lilies are starting to get going from their winter dormancy.

Step 2

Separate a small plant from a bigger plant by cutting with a sharp knife to clone floating plants. Many floating plants like water hyacinth, water lettuce and Neptune's fern grow by starting baby plants at the ends of the established plant. Eventually the baby plants break off by themselves and start a new separate plant.

Step 3

Cut oxygenating plants at the roots or simply cut off a stem. Gather the stems together and tie with a bit of cotton thread. The thread will eventually dissolve. Bury the ends of the stems in the bottom of the pond. Another alternative is to bury the stems in a terracotta pot filled with topsoil.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not introduce plants from your water garden into natural waterways. Don't use potting soil as a substitute for topsoil.

Things You'll Need

  • Water treatment product
  • Water plant baskets
  • Top soil
  • Pebbles
  • Water plants
  • Bucket


  • "The Complete Pond Builder"; Helen Nash; 1995
  • "All About Building Waterfalls, Pools, and Streams"; Charles M. Thomas and Richard M. Koogle; 2002
Keywords: starting water lilies, start floating plants, Divide oxygenating plants

About this Author

Katie Rosehill holds an MBA from Arizona State University. She began her writing career soon after college and has written website content and e-books. Her articles have appeared on, eHow, and GolfLinks. Favorite topics include personal finance - that MBA does come in handy sometimes - weddings and gardening.