Take a peek at some NJ Pond Plants that are simply perfect additions to any water garden area! Here are our favorite blooms. For your reference, we in northern New Jersey are considered Zone 6.
Butterfly Ginger: A sweet Gardenia-like scent permeates the summer air. These tropical rhizomes won’t survive our winters, but would do just fine inside in slightly moist vermiculite or peat in a cool, dry location. Also may be grown in containers or tubs which should be overwintered indoors in a cool, dry, frost-free location.. Under proper growing conditions this beauty can spread 4 to 5 feet! Our summers allow for a much smaller contained stature.
USDA hardiness zones: 8B through 11
Creeping Jenny: Loved by some and strangely hated by many (in a mint invasive kind of way) Creeping Jenny is most recently being used as a lawn substitute. Its ability to handle foot traffic and keep coming back for more makes it great groundcover. It spreads under most conditions, including moist- even soggy soil. Creeping Jenny offers a yellow tinged clover-like leaf all the way down its viney ‘arms’ and sometimes produces a tiny white flower. Not a bloomer in the classic definition, but a natural beauty in landscapes, window boxes, or hanging baskets. Overall height is about 1″, making it a great pairing to moss and spread is typically at least 12″.
USDA hardiness zones: 2 or 3 through 10
Society Garlic: The garlicky odor from this tough little border plant’s leaves lends its name, as well as the edible nature of the herbaceous bulbs and leaves. Though the small purple flowers give a light sweet scent in the evenings, Society Garlic is usually frowned upon simply because of its namesake. Silver variegated leaves add visual interest to bog areas and landscape borders. The star shaped purple flowers provide a delicate touch when in bloom. Will tolerate drought during the growing season like a champ. As well as frost and chilly temps down to the 20’s and is considered a perennial in zones 7 through 10. Other zones can re-pot this small guy in the early autumn and bring inside for indoor winter container gardening.
USDA hardiness zones: 7 through 10
Pitcher Plant (Dana’s Delight): Sunlight lover and perfect bog plant! The Pitcher Plant has bright pink and white veins making the foliage appear like a bloom. The Pitcher Plant functions very differently and is in fact carnivorous, the same way that a Japanese Fly Trap is. Flies, mosquitoes, and yellow jackets get caught in the tapering pitcher, leaving the surrounding area virtually bug-free. Moist soil, and water levels just shy of the crown are perfect conditions for growth. The Pitcher Plant maxes out at 2-3 feet tall, so don’t be alarmed if yours takes off. For chilly areas like ours, it will need to come in for the winter season and sit comfortably in a sunny window.
USDA hardiness zones: 6 through 9
Calla Lily: Originating in tropical marshlands, the Calla Lily adds tropical flair and color to any pond or pondless landscape. This rhizome produces its flowers in an ‘unrolling’ fashion, like a scroll of paper. Colors vary from white to pink to orange hues, and when in full bloom they are a great cut flower for arrangements in the home–or on the patio table while eating dinner gazing at your peaceful waterfalls. We digress. Keeping the bulb damp, but not too wet is the secret to Calla success. A perfect border plant, it will certainly thrive surrounding water features and terrestrial landscapes. They also transplant easily, so if you don’t like their first home, just dig them up and replant.
USDA hardiness zones: 8 through 10
Cattail: The mature cattail can reach 3 to 10 feet in height, and its blossoms are a puffy brown spike. These puffy brown spikes disseminate the fluffy seed heads in the breeze making the cattail a vigorous spreader. A common marsh and wetlands plant, the cattail most widely found in the US is either the narrow leaf or the broad leaf cattail. Enjoying ‘wet feet’ is part of how this perennial cements itself into the shallows and edges of waterways and ponds large and small.
USDA hardiness zones: 3 through 10
Corkscrew Rush: Best in full sun and happy with wet feet, the Corkscrew Rush is a whimsical addition to any pond area. Plumping up like a mini shrub, the spread of the Corkscrew Rush is about 1 foot. It is great for creating a small fence for blocking plumbing connections and power supplies in small spaces. The spiral greenery is so unlike any other aquatic plant. This hardy filler does well in containers or in a pebble base setting. Trimming is minimal and need only be done when the cylindrical stems have browned. Perennial and easy to winter over makes this one a winner in our book!
USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 9
Water Forget-Me-Not: The usually blue flowered perennial prefers wet feet and typically shows blooms in our Northeastern summer season of June through August. Delicate tiny little flowers cluster at the end of creeping fuzzy stems. Blue petals with a white to yellow pupil add a rarely seen shade to water gardens. Can reach heights of 6″ to up to 20″ depending on the growing season and sun exposure. Light shade is tolerated, and spread can be about a foot. Great for bog areas and along the shallows and deeper. Season after season, these small flowers will dot your summer brightly.
USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 8
Canna: If an Iris and a Bird of Paradise had a family, this would be the offspring. The beautiful Canna has large tropical foliage and a bright bloom of red, orange, or yellow flowers in the summer season. Canna is most often a tropical variety, but tolerates and thrives quite nicely in bog conditions. Hardy varieties are available, as they have become a favorite of Northern water gardeners. The spread of a Canna is about 12″ and their height can reach at least 24″ in a growing season. Sunny spots and moist soil make this a perfect tropical look for the water garden!
USDA Hardiness Zones: 8 to 11
Arrowhead: The name says it all! The Arrowhead leaf shape is as it sounds, just like an arrowhead. Producing small white flowers throughout the growing season along with lots of lush pointed foliage, the Arrowhead plant is a perfect addition to any section of your water garden. Tolerant of depths up to 10″ and spread can reach 2 feet, this greenery is a welcome tropical look waiting to land itself a place in your water garden. Easy to care for, sturdy leaf and stems, and a long growing season make this a favorite of ours.
USDA Hardiness Zones: 4
Closing Up Shop: How to cleanup your plantings for a great dormancy
Here is a breakdown of how to care for each of your plants as the fall season unfolds.
As with terrestrial, perennial plants, dropping temperatures signal your hardy aquatic plants to prepare for their winter dormancy. At this time, you should stop fertilizing them as you see leaves begin to yellow and brown. It’s ok to leave these plants where they are in your pond to weather the cold of winter, just be sure to trim the dying foliage of your marginal plants down to 2” above the water level.
In warm climates, tropical marginals will keep growing and will require fertilizer as usual. Water gardeners who live in Zones colder than 8 or 9 will need to treat these plants as they would any garden annual by replacing them each season. A fun alternative to this is to treat them as tropical houseplants and bring them in for the winter. Most tropical marginals will do well potted in heavy garden soil in a sealed clay pot with no drainage holes. When kept wet, the plants do well in a sunny window or sunroom.
Waterlilies will also begin to show their dislike for the cold with yellowing leaves and fewer flowers. When this happens, the leaf and flower stems of hardy water lilies should be cut back to about 2 to 3” above the base of the plant.
In warm climates, tropical waterlilies are happy in the pond year round, as long as the water temperature stays above 60°F. In areas where freezing is likely, plants should be overwintered indoors. This can be a difficult task; therefore many gardeners choose to simply buy a new plant each season.
As with the marginals in your pond, the foliage of your lotus plants will need to be trimmed back after they have died back and turned brown. It’s important not to cut the leaves while they are still green because the freshly cut, hollow stems are susceptible to disease which can spread to the plant’s tuber, possibly killing the plant. Lotus tubers will not withstand freezing, so any plants that are growing in the shallow areas of your pond should be moved to the bottom, away from freezing water. Caring for your aquatic plants in the fall will mean less work and healthier plants come spring.
In late fall, when your leaves have stopped dropping, it is also time when your winter preparation should be starting. Properly winterizing a pond at this time of year will make it easier for your spring clean-out.
Check back for more plant details throughout the 2015 season. Or follow us on Facebook and get new information as it is published on our site.
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