The Many Advantages of Water Plants
Water plants provide many advantages to the gardener besides their great beauty. Water or aquatic plants are classified as submerged, which means they spend their lives wholly submerged in water; deep water plants, whose roots are submerged in water; surface plants that float on the surface of the water and shallow water or bog plants. Shallow water plants can grow in mud or pure water, while bog plants grow in saturated soil just past the water line.
One advantage of water plants is the critical role they play in the ecosystem of a body of water, whether itâ€™s a lake or a jar full of water in a personâ€™s backyard. They make a habitat for all kinds of living things, from microorganisms to insects to amphibians to fish. They also help keep down the growth of algae and help the water stay clear.
Submerged plants like milfoil help the ecosystem because they reduce algae. This is primarily why they’re planted in a water garden. They compete with the algae for mineral salts in the water, which are produced by the breakdown of dead leaves and other organic matter. They also release oxygen into the water. This oxygen is a by-product of photosynthesis and is essential if fish and other animals are to be kept in the water garden. Since submerged plants often have delicate leaves, they also provide a hiding place for fish fry and tadpoles.
Like water lilies, water plants that have their roots deep in the water produce flowers and leaves that shade the water and cool it. This also keeps down the growth of algae and helps aquatic animals that prefer filtered light.
The surface of extensive water gardens should be mostly deep water and floating plants to keep the water clear. This also allows other water plants to become established in the water garden. However, the amount of deep water and floating plants shouldn’t be more than 70 percent. More than this will cause insufficient light for plants that are wholly submerged.
Plants that grow in boggy soil and shallow water are usually placed around the edge of the pond or the pool and can conceal the artificial boundaries. They also provide cover for animals like birds.
After they're established, most water plants don't need much care though plants with submerged roots need to be thinned. Damaged and diseased leaves should be removed. However, with a pond with wildlife, it's best to leave the foliage until the spring to provide shelter for the animals that live there.
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