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Discover the delights of water plants grown in containers

31 August 2012
Discover the delights of water plants grown in containers

If you think that you need broad vistas and rolling acres to enjoy ponds and water plants, then think again. These days people are reinventing the ‘water feature’. It has come on a long journey from practical necessity to slightly tacky fake pumps and barrels, via the sort of grandiose statements at large country homes which see water jets going 260 feet into the air. Today’s urban gardeners are discovering the delights of water plants in miniature patio ponds, grown in containers. They offer all the benefits of conventional container gardening – except they are filled with water!

Containers for ponds can be made from either metal, ceramic or fibreglass depending on what will work for you and your budget. They tend to be between 60 and 80 cm across which means that even the smallest patio or balcony has space for at least one. You can choose from a variety of colours. There is also a choice of shapes, with classic bowl-shapes and cylinders being the most popular

Once you’ve chosen the pond that works in your situation, next you need to think about how to plant it up, what you’d like to grow and any extra pieces of kit you might need to pull it all together. Plant support rings can be a great help in positioning your plants and the correct depth and making sure they don’t get blown over when it’s windy. There are some excellent suppliers of kits and equipment that can take the strain out of this stage of the process.

For a really successful end result, you have to keep in mind that you are creating a miniature ecosystem. Getting the balance of plants right in the container pond will ensure that oxygen levels are right, temperature is stable, nutrient levels not too high, as well as an attractive flowering or foliage sequence through the year. You will need some oxygenating plants below the surface. These help to use mineral salts as well as providing oxygen in the water. Surface cover plants provide shade.

Colour your Life is highlighting the beautiful Acorus calamus because it fits so well with the container pond concept. A British native, also known as Sweet Flag, it’s a foliage water plant with strap-like green leaves and beautiful decorative seedheads. It can reach a height of 90-120cm. To stimulate vigorous growth of new shoots in spring, cut back foliage in autumn/winter.