Potting Aquatic Plants; Choosing Soil and Pots
There are several types of pots that can be used when planting
aquatic plants into a water garden. While many can work, some
may be better than others. The best way to choose what is right
for your plants is to know the differences.
Pots With Drainage Holes. These pots can be
plastic, terracotta, etc. This is the standard pot typically
used in the planting of terrestrial plants. Terrestrial plants
need the drainage holes to allow water to drain out. This is
not needed with aquatics. When used in the pond, the holes can
allow the soil to leech out into the pond water. This can make
a mess of the pond and provide nutrient for algae growth. These
are cheap but not designed for use in the water garden.
Basket-type containers are a plastic mesh. The downside of these
is the same as pots with holes, the open areas in the pots allow
the soil from within the pot to leech out into the pond water.
In a planting basket the plant can benefit from the nutrients
in the water which can more easily be used by the plant in this
type of pot. While the plants, can still remain very healthy
it is not the best option for the pond in general.
Pots. There are 2 main types of pots used with
aquatic plants. The first of these are the no-hole pots. No-hole
pots are usually plastic. These are made specifically for water
garden plants. Only the top of the pot is open, so with a top
layer of gravel the soil remains where it should – in the pot.
No-hole pots are easy to use and easy to move around. If using
no-hole pots, it is critical that the water level never drop
below the top of the pot.
Pots. This is the second of the preferred water
garden pot types. Fabric pots combine the best features of no-hole
pots and baskets. The fabric is woven tight enough that it is
not going to allow well-packed soil to leech into the pond,
while still being open enough to allow the plant to pull extra
nutrients directly from the water. Fabric pots are also variable
in height, as if the pot is too tall, you can simply roll the
edges down to the desired height. The flexible bottom will also
allow the pot to sit more level even if the pond bottom is not
level. The only downsides of the fabric pots are that they cost
a little more and are more difficult to move around outside
pots, there are many types of soil. Soil has two main purposes;
anchoring the plant and holding nutrient. How each soil performs
these 2 functions is the biggest determinant is selecting your
soil, although cost and availability are certainly factors as
Clay Soil. Clay soil is one of the best options
for aquatic plants. It holds nutrients and anchors all plants
very well. However, too heavy of a clay concentration in the
soil can reduce healthy root growth. If available, this garden
soil could be dug up from your yard or occasionally purchased.
Sand. Sand can anchor shorter plants well,
but not tall plants. It will hold some nutrient but not as well
as a clay-based garden soil.
Gravel. Gravel can be used for short plants,
but is very poor at nutrient retention. Gravel can work when
the plants are for filtration purposes, but any fertilization,
will just be released into the water.
Aquatic Soil. Aquatic soil is usually made up of
kiln-fired clay particles. It is a great choice for aquatic
plants as it holds nutrients well and provides a strong base
for anchoring plants.
Potting Soil. Bagged potting soil is not an
acceptable soil for the water garden. It is too light and usually
contains too many organics.
Fiber. Fiber rolls and block such as rockwool
or coconut fiber can be used for some plantings. However, they
are very poor for nutrient retention and also will only anchor
You may also find our article on Care
for Aquatic Plants helpful.