Plant Life in Freshwater Ponds

Plant life is an important part of freshwater ponds, helping to create a balanced ecosystem. They provide shelter, cover, food and nesting places for wildlife living both inside and around the pond. Aquatic plants keep freshwater ponds healthful while improving the appearance of the pond and surrounding area.

Shoreline Plants

Shoreline plants — also known as marginal plants — grow at the edge of freshwater ponds. They can grow in a number of inches of standing water and also provide many advantages to the area. Shoreline plants help stabilize the pond bank, prevent erosion and provide food and cover for fish, amphibians and beneficial insects. Cattails (Typha spp.) , sedges (Carex spp.) and rushes (Juncus spp.) Are a few grass-like shoreline plants which grow in standing water at the edge of lakes, ponds, streams and rivers. Cattails are observed throughout U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 10 while sedges are hardy in USDA zones 3 through 9 and rushes in USDA zones 4 through 9.

Floating Plants

Plants that grow in freshwater with leaves which float on the water surface are known as floating plants. These aquatic plants provide food and cover for fish, turtles and amphibians. Waterlilies (Nymphaea spp.) — growing in USDA zones 3 through 11 — are a few of the very well known floating aquatic plants, with large pad-shaped leaves which sit around the water surface and also impressive flowers that attract beneficial insects such as dragonflies. Water shield (Brasenia schreberi) is another floating plant growing in the bodies of freshwater in USDA zones 6 through 9. Its 2 1/2-inch broad leaves float on the water surface and small purple blooms sit slightly over the surface. Growing in USDA zones 5 through 11, floating hearts (Nymphoides spp.) — also referred to as water snowflake — have a look similar to waterlilies but having smaller flowers which are not has attractive.

Submersible Plants

Submersible plants live and grow completely underwater but their leaves may stretch until the water. Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum) is a submersible plant with feathery leaf growing in freshwater streams, ponds and marshes throughout USDA zones 4 through 10. Hornwort is a common aquatic plant for aquariums and is a great oxygenator. Canadian waterweed (Elodea canadensis) is another submersible plant which grows in freshwater ponds in USDA zones 4 through 10. It has lanced-shaped leaves that droop down from its own branching stems. When grown in masses, Canadian waterweed offers cover for small crustaceans, fish, snails and insect larvae.

Undesirable Plants

Together with attractive and valuable plants, undesirable aquatic life may also grow in freshwater ponds. Algae are among the most undesirable aquatic plant-like organisms in freshwater ponds. They spread and grow quickly, covering the surface of the water, making the pond appear dirty and unattractive. Algae also threaten the life of desirable aquatic plants by blocking the sunlight from reaching them. Filamentous algae have hair-like grasses which may strangle other aquatic plants and small fish trying to swim through it. Introducing grasscarp to the freshwater pond is a natural means to keep algae as well as other unwanted pond plants in check. A chemical alternative which won’t harm aquatic wildlife is basin dye that tints the water blue or black and also blocks sunlight.

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