Basic principles for growing aquatic plants


Although some types of artificial aquarium plants look as good as natural ones, they don't offer the same benefits. Live plants in a freshwater aquarium provide a natural habitat for fish and help improve water quality. They extract carbon dioxide out of the aquarium and oxygenate the water during the day. Planting plants in a freshwater aquarium also reduces the growth of algae and the emergence of dangerous nitrates.

Think of a mental image about how you want your aquarium to look. Draw the image in general on a sheet of paper and then use it as a guide for planting plants in the freshwater aquarium.

Cover the bottom of your freshwater aquarium with a 2-inch (5 cm) layer of sand or fine gravel substrate. Place rocks, logs and other ornamental objects in their place.

Fill the aquarium with three or four inches (7.5 to 10 cm) of water above the substrate. Pour it slowly so as not to shake the contents of the tank. Water will make planting easier for you.

Take the roots of the first floor with a pair of tweezers to manipulate it. Insert the tip of the clamp at a slight angle into the substrate ensuring the roots of the plant. Open the clamps and leave the plant inside the substrate.

Continue this process with the remaining plants. Sow from the front going towards the back of the aquarium. Then, fill it with water, which will help keep the plants upright. Cut the tips of plants that grow too high with the scissors.

Jonae Fredericks started writing in 2007. She also has a background as a licensed cosmetologist and certified skin-care specialist. Jonae Fredericks is a certified paraeducator, presently working in the public education system.

Basic principles for growing aquatic plants

Depending on the particular characteristics of each project, there are a number of basic principles for successfully cultivating the aquatic plants which must be taken into account:


Naturally, this factor will change according to the nature of the flora and fauna chosen for the aquarium or pond. Based on it, three types of fields can be distinguished for aquatic plants:

  • Cold aquarium, whose temperature ranges between 5ºC and 15ºC, is the most suitable for aquatic plants of European origin and many of the subtropical species.
  • The temperate aquarium, ranges between 15 ° C and 18 ° C. It is the ideal type for aquatic plants subtropical and native to temperate regions of America and Asia.
  • The warm or tropical aquarium, whose temperature levels never drop below 18ºC and can reach more than 30ºC. The average temperature in this type of aquarium is 27ºC. This medium is the most suitable for the cultivation of aquatic plants tropical


Sand and soil are almost always a good combination to grow aquatic plants successfully. The roots of the species of Aquarium or pond they usually have a radial system, so a layer of substrate 4 to 5 centimeters thick may be sufficient.

Despite soil poverty, if the Aquarium It is well balanced in fauna and flora. Plants will grow without difficulty. It should be taken into account that the substrate needs to be renewed once a year to avoid losing its nutritional value.

For amateurs without much experience in the field it is recommended to avoid the use of mineral solutions as much as possible, since the proportions to be applied must be very accurate and if there is no knowledge or practice necessary there is a danger that burn the leaves of cultivated species.

The light:

For a long time, fluorescence lighting was considered the best solution to grow aquatic plants in aquariums or ponds interiors For this, the same tubes that are used in horticulture are usually used, combining them sometimes with the lamps of the type "daylight".

These devices do not give off heat, do not burn plants and allow natural growth.

Currently there are also low-voltage LED light systems that make energy consumption more efficient, but which in turn are powerful enough to illuminate an aquarium without adding heat to the environment.

Both the aquariums like the aquatic plants they should be illuminated 10 to 12 hours a day and remain dark for a minimum of eight hours.

How to plant an aquarium

Planting an aquarium provides a more natural and healthy environment for aquatic life. However, for beginners, planting an aquarium can seem like a daunting task. This article will give you a step-by-step guide to plant your aquarium

Step 1:First determine how much lighting you have. Most plants need at least 2 watts per gallon to grow properly. If necessary, update your lighting.

Step 2:Then, discover what plants you would like to grow. Beginners are recommended to start with easy plants that do not need much light and do not require CO2. Here is a list of some very basic plants:

Water Wisteria, Java Moss,Anubias, Cryptocoryne wendtii, Amazon sword.

Step 3:The substrate is vital for the successful growth of the plant. Plants can be grown in normal gravel, but their options will be limited, since most plants do much better in a sand substrate. Choose what you choose, make sure you have a layer of at least 3 inches (7.6 cm) thick and it is advisable to place a 1 inch (2.5 cm) echo layer or a similar plant substrate underneath. This will provide nutrients for the plants.

Step 4:The plants are notorious snail bearers, so when you bring your plants home, check the leaves and stems thoroughly for snails or snail eggs boxes.

Step 5:Most plants will come in small containers when you buy them. Gently remove the plant from the container and use a toothpick to untangle the roots if the plant has become root.

Step 6:Use a pencil or a wooden spike to create a depression in the substrate. Gently place the plant in depression and cover its roots with substrate. Some plants will die if you accidentally cover the crown of the plant with substrate, so be careful.

Step 7:Do not fertilize your plants during the onset of confusion (the first 3-4 weeks). After that, you can start fertilizing with a liquid fertilizer or tablets. Be sure to choose one that contains essential micronutrients such as iron. If it is in well water, the water already contains many of these micronutrients.

Find the right container

It is important that you locate the container that is ideal for your purpose:

1: Plant your aquatic plant in a container before putting it in water

Planting it in a container controls its spread, which many aquatic plants do very quickly.

Some aquatic plants can assume a smaller water function in a few years and must be controlled with chemicals or extracted by hand.

2: Grow tropical and subtropical aquatic plants such as Cannas (Canna spp) in a container

These plants grow well in USDA hardiness zones 7 to 10. But they will not survive temperatures below 0 ° F (-18 ° C).

If planted in a pond, these plants should be extracted in the fall and stored in a cool, dry place where they are not exposed to frost during winter.

3: Do not use a container with drain holes

Unlike land plants that must be planted in containers with holes sewer system, Aquatic plants do not need a container with holes since the potting soil can be washed through the holes.

4: Use plastic pots without holes or cloth pots

Fabric pots are ideal for aquatic plants. The fabric allows water to penetrate the potting soil but keeps the soil and the flexible fabric at the bottom facilitates plant maintenance.

However, cloth pots are slightly more expensive than plastic pots and more difficult to move when the plant leaves the water.

5: Select a container according to the size you want the aquatic pot to grow

Smaller containers keep smaller plants, while larger containers allow them to grow. Certain species of aquatic plants also grow better in smaller or larger containers

Resistant water lilies like the "Comanche" (Nymphaea "Comanche"), which grow well in zones 4 to 10, and Cannas should be planted in containers that are 10 inches deep and 15 inches wide.

Tropical water lilies like the "Director George T. Moore" (Nymphaea "Director George T. Moore") that only grow well in Zones 10 and 11, should be planted in containers 10 inches deep and 20 inches wide.

Smaller plants like the "Katie Ruellia" (Ruellia brittonia "Katie"), which grows 5 to 10 inches tall and grows well in zones 9 to 11, can be planted in a pot 5 inches deep and 8 inches wide to keep It is smaller or a pot 5 inches wide and 12 inches wide so that it grows a little bigger.

6: Ask a sales associate

Do it in a water plant nursery if you are not sure what size container you should use. They can tell you what pot size will work best for each plant.

Aquatic plants do more than just make a water feature more attractive

Aquatic plants that purify water

Aquatic plants play an important role in maintaining a healthy water garden or pond. Not only do they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen in the water, improving the environment for fish, but they also absorb nutrients from the water. This reduction in nutrients results in clearer water and less algae. Use a variety of plants, including flowers and grass-type plants along the edges, some floating plants and two or three dozen clusters of submerged plants.

Flowering coast plants

Golden cannas produce bright yellow flowers.

The golden gray (Canna flaccida), some hybrids of canna and lanceola flea(Phyla lanceolata) They are effective aquatic plants that remove nutrients and bloom from spring to fall. Its leaves have yellowish or creamy white stripes and its flowers are bright orange. Both cannas grow along the muddy shore or in water up to 6 inches deep. Lanceleaf Frogfruit (Phyla lanceolata) It grows naturally in wetlands and most. It grows on the coast or in the water up to 3 inches deep at a height of 2 feet and produces clusters of small pale pink or white flowers.

Coastal grass plants

The reeds (Scirpus spp.) And the reeds(Juncus spp.) They are excellent water purifiers. They remove excess nutrients from water, as well as from oil and bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella. Reeds also remove heavy metals such as copper, nickel and zinc. They grow between 1 and 5 feet tall and bloom in the summer, but the flowers are not flashy. They grow along the shore in up to 3 inches of water.

Floating plants

Water lilies (Nymphaea spp.) And the poppies (Hydrocleys nymphoides) They help purify water by absorbing nutrients. Water lilies and poppies bloom from late spring to mid autumn. Water poppies have yellow flowers, while water lilies are available in a variety of flower colors. Tropical water lilies grow from 9 to 16 inches of water, while resistant water lilies grow in 1 to 4 feet of water. Water poppies grow in 6 to 10 inches of water.

Submerged plants

Canadian algae (Elodea canadensis syn. Anacharis canadensis), also known as seaweed, and American wild celery (Vallisneria americana), also known as eels or grass tape, are very good water purifiers. Canadian dwarf plants grow branches covered with small oval leaves, while American wild celery plants grow long, strip-shaped, from the base.

Both plants purify water by absorbing nutrients. Canadian aquatic plants can be planted in water 6 to 5 feet deep, while American wild celery can be planted in water 6 inches to 4 feet deep. Canadian seaweed can become invasive and should only be used in smaller ponds or in water gardens where they can be easily controlled.

Using the right floor

Use clay clay for aquatic plants. If the soil in your garden is made of natural clay clay, it can be used for aquatic plants.

Buy potting mixtures of commercially made aquatic plants if the native soil is sandy or very heavy clay. You can use a brand like PondCare Aquatic PlantingHalf.

This mixture contains clay pieces baked in the oven, provides nutrients to the plants and anchors the aquatic plant safely in its container.

While sandy soil can keep the plant anchored, it will not maintain enough nutrients to keep aquatic plants healthy.

Do not use potting soil that is formulated for plants in regular terrestrial pots. It is too light and will seep into the water.

Encapsulating the aquatic plant

You must do it as follows:

1: If you are planting a rhizome

Pour the moistened soil into the container until it is full. Then, place two to four tablets of aquatic plant fertilizer on the ground evenly spaced around the container at a distance of 2 to 3 inches from the edge.

The amount of tablets needed varies depending on the size of the tablets and the size of the container.

There should be 1 to 2 ounces of fertilizer per gallon of soil.

Fertilizer tablets with a ratio of 12-8-8, 10-6-4, 20-10-5 or 5-10-5 are fine.

Add more moist soil. Do this until the container is full.

If you are growing a resistant water lily rhizome, place it at an angle and to one side of the container. These rhizomes are thick stems that look like sweet potatoes.

The growing end of the rhizome with growth buttons or "eyes" should be placed in the center of the container with the "eyes" up and buried deeper than the other end so that everything is seated at an angle of 45 degrees.

Growth buttons or "eyes" look very similar to "eyes" on a potato.

This placement gives the room water resistant lily to grow in the pot.

2: Place additional moist soil in the container over the rhizome

The upper end must be just above ground level and the lower end must be covered.

If you are growing rhizomes of tropical water lily and lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), center them in the pot. Your "eyes" should be facing up and the top of the rhizome should be above ground level.

The lotuses grow well in zones 4 to 10.

If you are growing Cannas, plant them in the center of the container. Then, cover them with 2 to 3 inches of soil.

For other types of aquatic plants with roots instead of rhizomes, fill the container with ¾ to ¾ moist soil. Then, hold the plant in the center of the container and add more moist soil until the roots are covered.

Add ½ to ¾ inch of gravel on top of the soil for all aquatic plants. This will help keep the soil in the container and prevent the fish from displacing the soil.

Water the aquatic plant immediately after planting. The floor must be wet.

If you are growing a resistant water lily rhizome, place it at an angle and to one side of the container

Sink the plant

Before moving the pots to the pond, determine the appropriate depth for each plant. Place buckets upside down or large rocks under each pot to place it at the correct depth for that particular plant. Swampy plants are usually placed with the soil surface, between 1 to 6 inches underwater, while aquatic species such as lilies can be placed 1 to 3 feet deep.

Protect roots and rhizomes

If you also breed koi or other fish, your plants require protection. Koi eats foliage and plant roots. To prevent them from pushing the earth out of the way and devouring the roots of your plants, place several large rocks on the ground. Do not cover the leaves or eyes of the rhizomes with the rocks. The foliage must reach the surface of the water for the plant to survive. Some sources recommend covering the ground with gravel, but it is not a barrier to a particular and hungry koi.

Acclimate the plants

Fill a large tub with water and check its temperature. Resistant aquatic plants tolerate temperatures as low as 55 degrees Fahrenheit, while tropical aquatic plants require temperatures above 70 F to sprout and thrive. When sinking each plant in a tub of water for several hours or days, the loose soil in the pot will settle, keeping your pond free of mud. It also gives rhizomes the opportunity to sprout before exposing them to the pond environment.

Spring Pond Care

Although rare, frost occurs at low elevations in California. If you have experienced a mild to moderate frost, it is crucial to examine the pond and its inhabitants for damage. Click once on the plastic lining of the pond and look for leaks, damage and cracks. Minor cracks are repairable, while more extensive damage requires replacement of the liner.

Make a partial water change, or approximately 20 to 30 percent, with a siphon or pump. Add an enzyme / bacterial cleaner to the pond according to package directions to remove excess organic debris from the water. Examine your resistant plants and eliminate any dead or decaying foliage. A frost affects any aquatic inhabitant, including fish.

Using a net, carefully remove the fish from the pond and place it in a bucket. Examine the fish for signs of physical damage or disease, including discolored scales and cloudy eyes.

Summer Pond Care

Summer usually brings the resurgence of algae. Longer days and increased sun exposure increase the amount of nitrogen in the water and make the algae thrive. To combat algae, introduce floating plants to the pond in the summer, as it will prevent less sunlight from entering the water.

Feed your fish at least twice a day in the summer, but remove any excess food with a skimmer after five minutes. Allowing excess food to remain introduces nitrogen into the water, which again promotes algal growth. Continue to monitor water levels in the pond, especially during hot days. Water evaporates quickly, which requires the addition of water daily. If the water temperature exceeds 85 degrees Fahrenheit for three to four days, add cold water to the pond to prevent plants and fish from dying.

Autumn pond care

Focus your attention on pond foliage and plant life during the fall. Look at the surface of the water for falling leaves, and remove them with a skimmer to prevent decomposing organic matter from poisoning the pond. Prune any foliage out of control with a sharp pair of secateurs. This not only maintains the appearance of the pond, but also helps promote healthy spring growth.

Make a water exchange of 20 to 30 percent with fresh running water. Remove the fish and place it in a plastic bucket while exchanging the water. Cover the bucket with mesh to prevent the fish from jumping.

Winter pond care

Continue monitoring the fish and plant life in the pond, especially if temperatures fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Once temperatures begin to remain around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it's time to stop feeding the fish.

Do not worry about starvation, as the fish will consume the algae in the pond. If you expect a colder winter or long periods of temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it's time to bring the fish and potted plants that surround the pond indoors.

In general, it is not necessary to completely close the pond, remove the fish and drain the water in the temperate regions of the 10th area of ​​the US Department of Agriculture. UU., Since frost is generally not a problem.

Pest of pond plants

Pests are not limited to plants that grow in flower beds: pond plants are also vulnerable. These pests feed on the foliage of the pond plants, causing damage or carrying potentially harmful diseases with them. Once you have identified the pest of the pond plant you are dealing with, you can effectively control the infestation using safe methods for water.


Aphids commonly disturb pond plants. Signs of infestation include yellowing and darkening of the leaves, distorted growth and the presence of small black or green insects. Aphids are often introduced into a pond by infested plants, but they also winter in plums and cherry trees.

Most aphid infestations can be treated with a strong water spray. You can also dust diatomaceous earth, a natural insect control substance, on the leaves of your pond plant for effective control of aphids. Treat nearby plums and cherry trees with an inactive oil to kill the eggs, but be careful not to allow dew to enter the pond.

Read the label instructions carefully and observe the appropriate waiting time before reintroducing the plants into the pond. Do not use chemical insecticides in or near your pond, especially if you have fish.

Aquatic leaf beetles

Small aquatic beetles from dark brown to black leaves feed on leaves of pond plants. Symptoms of water beetle infestations include chewed holes in the foliage and mottled areas in the plants. The small black larvae of the water beetle, which resemble larvae, feed on underwater foliage and stems. Control this pest of pond plants by spraying your plants with a strong stream of water. Adult water leaf beetles spend the winter in dead foliage at the edge of the pond, therefore, remove this material to prevent reinfestation.

Severe infestations may require the use of insecticides. Remove all infected plants and place them in a bucket or bathtub and treat them with insecticidal soaps. Wait for the treatment to kill the insects, then rinse the plants with clean water before returning them to your pond.

Mining Mining Sheet

If you see wavy lines chewed on the plants in your pond, it could be the job of leaf extraction midges. These small insects, similar to mosquitoes, lay their eggs in the foliage of aquatic plants. Its small larvae are transparent and difficult to see. They tunnel in the leaves of your aquatic plants and feed on the tissue between the veins. The control of leaf extraction midges begins with the removal of the leaves that show these paths. Serious infestations can be treated with a mosquito that contains Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), a natural bacterium available in garden stores.

China Mark Moth

An important plague of water lilies, the Chinese moth is a small smooth brown moth that lays eggs at the bottom of the floating leaves. The larvae cut the leaves to make protective sandwiches for their buds. While they mainly affect water lilies, Chinese moth larvae hide in any floating leaf or debris. Control them by removing all the affected foliage near the crown of the plant. Chinese moth larvae easily mark the leaves, but severe infestations can be eradicated with insecticidal soaps and aerosols containing Bt.

Plant tropical and subtropical aquatic plants in waters that exceed 70 ° F (21 ° C). Cannas and tropical water lilies will do well in these conditions


While the snail or snail planorbis is a valuable consumer of algae, which rarely or never devours the desirable garden plants, this does not happen with many other snails. Species such as the large pond snail, or freshwater buccino, and the fountain bladder snail can be extremely destructive, damaging aquatic plants in the same way that garden snails attack land plants.

Aquatic with floating foliage are particularly vulnerable to grazing, and severe infestations can cause complete defoliation. For the most part, snails with high-end shells, which produce eggs in jelly cylinders, are the most destructive, rounded snails, which lay their eggs on flat jelly pads, are generally quite harmless. Unfortunately, gardeners sometimes confuse jelly cylinders with fish spawn, especially when they arrive attached to plants. In this case, a population will quickly settle in a group.

Small tubs and pots can be disposed of snails by mixing a patented snail aquatic killer in the water, but this would not be practical for a garden pool. Therefore, you must rely on physical methods. Choosing it by hand is a tedious task, but it can be made easier by floating fresh leaves of lettuce on the surface of the water overnight. In the morning, there is likely to be a considerable congregation of snails under them, which can be collected and destroyed. .

Leaf lot with water

There are two species of leaf spot disease that damage the lily pads. One causes dark spots to appear on the surface of the leaves, which eventually rot, the other tends to start at the outer edges of the leaves, causing them to turn brown and crumble. Both are debilitating and disfiguring, but they are not very serious problems. Its incidence will vary considerably from year to year, depending on the prevailing conditions.

Removing damaged foliage and disposing of it safely in any part of the garden will do much to prevent its spread. In decorative pools where there are no fish, a copper fungicide, such as the Bordeaux mixture, can be used effectively.