How to Plant Pond Pots

Overview

For both aesthetic as well as maintenance purposes, many gardeners find it best to plant pond plants in pots before submerging the plants in a pond or water garden. Plants typically growing below the surface of the water are given all the nutrients they need to thrive. Adequate sunlight, oxygen, natural fertilizer in the form of fish waste, and of course, water enable some pond plants to become rather invasive if left uncontained. Also, many pond plants need to be moved when the temperatures drop. Tropical plants need to be taken out of the pond altogether while hardy plants need to either be removed or dropped to a lower depth. Planting water plants in pots is simple and if repeated yearly, takes very little effort and time.

Potting Hardy and Tropical Marginal Pond Plants

Step 1

Carefully remove the pond plant from the container it was purchased in. Overgrown plants might need to be cut out of the container with pruning shears or scissors.

Step 2

Place the pond plant in the center of the pot, noting where the plant crown (point where the stems contact the soil) lies in relation to the top of the pot.

Step 3

Remove the plant from the pot and set it aside, preferably in a shaded area to prevent drying out.

Step 4

Fill the base of the pot with the same amount of topsoil as you noted the plant crown was in relation to the top of the pot. For example, if there were 2 inches between the plant crown and the top of the pot, 2 inches of soil will be placed at the bottom of the pot.

Step 5

Place the plant in the pot and begin filling topsoil around the sides and top of the plant until just the crown is left exposed.

Step 6

Add pea gravel or small rocks in a half- to 1-inch layer on top to hold down the soil and anchor the plant in place.

Step 7

Place the potted plant in a shallow pond or water garden. The water generally should be 1 to 4 inches above the top of the pot.

Potting a Hardy Water Lily

Step 1

Carefully dislodge the rhizome of the water lily from its container. Often this requires dumping the mud and searching for the tuber with your hands.

Step 2

Rinse the rhizome with water and locate the growing point of the tuber. Growing points are denoted by buds growing more around one end of the rhizome than the other.

Step 3

Fill a pot half to three-quarters full with topsoil and place the rhizome on top of the soil with the growing point pointing toward the center of the pot and the roots extending down and across the soil.

Step 4

Continue to fill the pot with soil, gently holding the tuber with one hand, until half under the growing point is still exposed.

Step 5

Top with a half inch of pea gravel or small rocks to anchor the lily in place. Check to ensure the growing point is still exposed.

Step 6

Lower the pot into the deeper depths of pond or water garden, generally 12 to 18 inches deep.

Potting Tropical Water Lilies and Lotus Plants

Step 1

Follow steps 1 and 2 above.

Step 2

Fill a pot half to three-quarters full with topsoil. Place the rhizome on top of the soil with the growing point in the center of the pot and the roots extending down and across the soil.

Step 3

Continue to fill the pot with soil, gently holding the tuber with one hand, until half under the growing point is still exposed.

Step 4

Top with a half inch of pea gravel or small rocks to anchor lily in place. Check to ensure growing point is still exposed.

Step 5

Lower the pot into the deeper depths of pond or water garden. Tropical lilies prefer 6- to 12-inch depths while lotus plants thrive in water that reaches 6 to 8 inches over the top of the pot.

Tips and Warnings

  • Make sure water temperatures are adequate before placing plants in the pond or water garden. Hardy water plants can tolerate water temperatures of 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit while tropical pond plants can only be exposed to 70 F waters. Check to ensure you are using plain topsoil or clay-based loam. Fertilizer additives will create a possibly toxic imbalance of nutrients in your pond, inevitably causing a terrible outbreak of algae. Likewise, any perlite, vermiculite or bark mixed into your soil will gradually rise to the water surface.

Things You'll Need

  • Topsoil, preferably clay-based loam
  • Untreated gravel or small rocks
  • Pot, 2 to 3 inches larger than the plant and no more than 18 inches in depth
  • Pruning shears

References

  • Plantalk Colorado: Water Gardens
  • University of Illinois Extension: Water Gardening
Keywords: pond plants, water lilies, water gardening, marginal plants, submergible plants