Translated by Nick R
Maybe you have a garden that includes a small pond or lake, but did you know that you can fill it with life and color by complementing it with diverse plants? Or maybe you’ve seen houseplants sitting in a jar of water while they grow nice and strong. Well, those are water plants, and you can have yours right now.
So, here we’ll talk about water plants and their benefits. Also, if you want to start your water garden, we’ll let you know which plants you can include and how to take care for them. You can even have them at home, and we’ll give you our recommendations.
Table of Contents
What are water plants?
Water plants, also called hydrophytes or macrophytes, are plants that have adapted to live in fresh and salty aquatic environments. They can grow in or near water and are partially or completely submerged.
They have limited access to carbon and don’t need a lot of light to survive. Precisely because of this reduced ability to collect nutrients, these plants have adapted various mechanisms to maximize their uptake.
Some water plants have flowers and, nowadays, they’re becoming increasingly popular for those gardeners who have an aquatic space in their garden or for those people who want to have them because of their easy care.
Types of water plants
They have their roots inside the water and go all the way to the ground, but because they need direct sunlight, they have most of their foliage over water.
As the name implies, these plants are kept entirely within the water. Although some parts may be above the water level, most of the vegetation is submerged.
Floating leaf plants
These float freely on the surface so they are not attached to the bottom or soil but have roots that take up water. They also have naturally firm, flat leaves to absorb more sunlight.
Benefits of water plants
Water plants take on a primordial role, not only for their aesthetic and chromatic properties but above all, for their functional characteristics that we’ll discuss below.
- Habitat for fish and wildlife. Some fish use aquatic vegetation to build nests and lay their eggs in the safety of plants. Similarly, many types of waterfowl and fish use aquatic plants for protection and shelter from predators. This ultimately contributes to the protection of local biodiversity.
- They improve water quality. Water plants absorb excess nutrients present in the water while helping to prevent unwanted pollutants from reaching the water.
- Easy care. Especially if you want to have these types of plants in your home, you’ll notice that you’ll no longer have to worry about watering and will find it easier to maintain them.
What are water gardens?
They can be defined as a type of man-made water fountain in form of indoor or outdoor landscaping. Their main purpose is to shelter, exhibit or propagate a particular species or variety of water plants or animals.
Often, we relate water gardens with the idea of large ponds and lakes within extensive lands. However, those home spaces with plants sowed in containers can also be called so.
So, regardless of the size of the space available for your water garden, you’ll notice that it is quite simple to maintain. Plus, we know it’ll adorn, enhance the appearance and brighten up your home.
Benefits of water gardens
So, just as aquatic plants are beneficial to the environment, creating an entire ecosystem through a water garden also provides a great positive impact on your surroundings. For example:
- Water gardens impact the environment positively as the negative ions released into the atmosphere by moving water help remove toxins and impurities in the atmosphere. So, when you’re near your water garden, you’ll feel fresher and purer air.
- They provide a relaxing environment. Just looking at a water body fountain for an extended time can improve a person’s blood pressure and heart rate.
- You never worry about watering. We all know that one of the most common problems when maintaining plants is not knowing how much water they require or not having the proper irrigation system. Clearly, by having a water garden you won’t have any related problems.
4 most commonly used garden water plants
To begin with, keep in mind that these are available at local nurseries or even aquarium specialized stores. Although, the best way for you to know that they are available is to look for online stores that sell water plants. Also, the best thing is that they can be delivered to your home.
On the other hand, our recommendation is to buy the seedlings or cuttings offered by the stores. Of course, you can also get the seeds, but it is a time-consuming and not always successful process.
Now then, let’s go to our top 4 of the most common water plants to beautify your outdoor garden.
Also known as sacred lotus, this plant has a life cycle unlike any other. This is because it submerges every night and blooms again the next morning. Therefore, in many cultures, it’s associated with the flower of rebirth and spiritual enlightenment.
It’s an emergent plant, so its roots are attached to the ground while its leaves float on the surface. It has flowers generally in pink tones that also give off a pleasant fragrance.
Additionally, this plant produces thousands of seeds each year which it drops to the bottom of the water. Such seeds can remain dormant and germinate after centuries. Oddly enough, for this reason, it’s considered a weed in a few places.
How to care for the Lotus flower
It likes warmth and prefers direct sunlight. Although it can survive light frosts, in very cold areas the leaves turn yellow or brown. If this happens to you, you’ll need to move it so that it doesn’t die.
Prefer nutrient-rich loamy garden soil or a mix specially prepared for water plants. A combination of a universal substrate and river sand will also work fine; in case you want to keep it at home.
If you see a dry or withered leaf, it’s better to remove it to avoid the appearance of diseases. It’s a very resistant plant that doesn’t usually present problems with pests.
Pistia, mostly called water lettuce, is a perennial, floating plant that produces rosettes of thick but soft green leaves that look like small lettuces.
Its leaves are stemless, and their surface is covered with short, soft hairs, which help trap air while increasing the plant’s floatability. It also produces yellow flowers that remain hidden in the foliage.
It’s considered a weed because of its excessive growth, as it forms large floating colonies that must be controlled so that they don’t become invasive. Avoid letting them cover the entire water surface as they will prevent light from reaching other plants and can even suffocate fish underneath them.
How to care for the Water Lettuce
It’s grown in shade before being slowly introduced to full light. Because, if placed under strong, direct lights immediately after purchase, the leaves are likely to burn, and the plant will struggle to grow.
It withstands hot and cold climates. You can also grow it indoors, preferably in a humid environment. Likewise, it gets all its nutrients directly from the water.
Additional care for water lettuce is minimal, as the plant has no serious pest or disease problems. However, it may be visited in outdoor gardens by moths, which will use it as a host plant to lay eggs under the leaves.
To avoid this, you can plant carnivorous plants near the pond, and it’s even good to have turtles or toads that will also feed on the mosquitoes. Another option is to use a net and remove the larvae.
As a last alternative, it’s possible to clean the water with chlorine bleach, but you’ll have to remove the plants to avoid damaging them. If you have fish, disregard this option.
They are tall and robust perennial plants that can reach up to 4 to 5 meters in height. Each stiff stem is formed by a dense group of slender stems which are bright green and grow between 10 and 30 centimeters long. These stems look like hairs that spread out like an open umbrella.
While the ancient Egyptians used this plant to make paper, it also makes a great water garden plant. Papyrus plants have great environmental value as they have a high capacity to clean air and regulate the ecosystem.
They are easy to maintain if you manage to find a sunny spot and plant them in moist, fertile soil. For this reason, they are ideal for the shore of ponds, where they provide a tropical atmosphere.
How to care for the Papirus
It prefers full sun but can also be kept in partial shade. Papyrus has no frost tolerance and must be moved indoors during the winter.
Since it likes to be on fertile soil you can accompany it with organic fertilizers that will promote the growth of its huge stems.
You can grow it in pots if you wish as they do well in clay or sandy soils. You can also supplement it with a layer of gravel, which will help it absorb nutrients better and remember to water it regularly. You can even choose a pot without drainage holes or with a saucer to help keep the water stagnant.
Fortunately, this plant isn’t often affected by pests or diseases. Thus, you don’t have to worry about your papyrus getting infected if your garden is being attacked. You can even disregard spraying it with insecticides as prevention.
However, on very few occasions it can get rust fungus. This will only happen if the plant is weak and if the disease is present in a nearby plant. In such a case, it’s good to use sulfur or copper insecticides.
It’s a floating perennial plant with round, bright green leaves held on long, fleshy, bulbous stems. Its flower stalks grow about six inches above the foliage, and at the end, it gets up to 20 beautiful purple flowers.
Water hyacinths are very useful for competing with algae. This is because of their quick growth which allows them to provide more shade and absorb large amounts of nutrients. Actually, the problem with algae in the pond is that they generate an undesirable greenish coloration.
Precisely for its rapid propagation, it’s considered an invasive plant. Each plant can produce thousands of seeds each year which remain viable for even more than 28 years.
How to care for the Hyacinth
It would flower better in full sun but will also grow in shade. However, water hyacinths have greater bloom during the hottest time of the year and only if they are clumped together.
If you want to keep it in a pot, use a substrate with plenty of perlite or vermiculite and river sand. You can even put it in the pond to limit its propagation and it’ll receive the proper amount of water it needs.
Keep in mind that various types of fish like to nibble at their roots so if they are many or large, they may end up eating the plant. On the other hand, letting it spread freely and unchecked can also affect the wildlife beneath.
6 aquatic plants you can have at home
We continue with our recommendation of 6 houseplants that can be kept in water. In fact, some plants grow better in water than in soil. So, below, we’ll tell you how to set up your own indoor water garden and what general care you should consider.
It isn’t part of the bamboo family but resembles it because of its slender, flexible stems with ribbon-like leaves. It’s said to enhance Feng Shui, so it permeates the home with positive energy and attracts good luck.
It also means other things depending on its stems’ shape, either straight or curved, and by its number. For example, 1 stem means good energy flow, 2 stems mean good luck in love and 3 stems mean family.
In addition, it’s quite common as a houseplant thanks to its easy care. Mainly because it enjoys growing in soil or water, although it lives a longer life when grown in soil.
How to care for the Lucky Bamboo
It likes to receive indirect sunlight. This will help it have strong and shiny leaves. If you place it in direct sunlight the leaves will burn. During the colder months be careful not to leave your plant near windows or places with a cold draft.
Keep in mind that the lucky bamboo should always be green, so if any part of the stem or leaves turn yellow indicates that your plant might be sick. Completely remove the yellow part or leaves so that it doesn’t spread to the rest of the plant.
Finally, be careful that your dogs or cats don’t eat this plant because it is toxic to them. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain, among other symptoms.
It’s a perennial plant that reaches up to a meter in height but is characterized by its slow growth. Besides, it purifies the air as it removes environmental toxins.
Its foliage can have striking mottled red, pink, silver, green or yellow patterns. So, it’s an excellent way to bring life and color to your home. It has also been used for the belief that it brings good luck.
How to care for the Aglaonema
They are a perfect option for those dimly lighted spaces because of their tolerance to wet or dry conditions and the fact that they thrive in low-light settings. Therefore, they better not receive direct sunlight, to avoid burning their leaves.
If some leaves turn yellow or brown, it may be due to transplanting. For this, you’ll have to prune those parts, but if the problem continues, it’ll surely be due to the amount of sunlight.
This plant is toxic so you should be careful with the animals and children in your house.
Also called Miami, it’s a plant with heart-shaped pointed green leaves that sometimes have white, yellow or pale green striations. It is also known as devil’s ivy as it is almost impossible to kill and remains alive even when kept in the dark.
It’s widely used as a decorative item in shopping malls and offices because it is quite resistant and requires little care. It has a vine-like formation and the ability to purify the air.
How to care for the Potos
While potos like indirect brightness they can also thrive in areas that don’t get a lot of sunlight or only have artificial lighting. They even thrive if they receive plenty of nutrients, but they also do well in poorer or less well-cared-for conditions.
It’s generally pest-free but may experience the appearance of mealybugs. For this, we recommend using a mixture of water and liquid soap to clean the plant thoroughly. You can find other tips on our blog about homemade insecticides.
All parts of this plant are poisonous if consumed by humans or animals, so be very cautious.
They feature large, glossy leaves, although an interesting feature about philodendrons is that they don’t have only one type of leaf on the same plant. That is, philodendrons have young and adult leaves, which can be drastically different from each other.
There are two basic types of philodendrons, vining plants and non-climbing plants. So, you can ask about this trait depending on your need or interest.
Although it bears a fleshy berry fruit, no part of this plant should be ingested by humans or animals. It contains calcium oxalate, which is poisonous and is lethal for cats.
How to care for the Philodendron
This plant likes to be placed in a bright location but not in direct sunlight.
It’s normal for its old leaves to turn yellow, but if most of them present this irregularity, consider moving the plant to a cool place where it doesn’t receive much light. Otherwise, if the stems are very long and the leaves few, it needs better lighting.
It’s good to clean the leaves from time to time, and for that, you’ll simply need a damp cloth with rainwater or warm tap water. You’ll see that dusting will keep your plant looking vigorous.
You may encounter pests such as spider mites, mealybugs and aphids. If you want to know more about them, we suggest you read our blog about the most common plant pests.
Swedish Ivy or Swedish begonia
It’s a perennial and aromatic plant with succulent leaves on which it stores the water and nutrients needed to survive. It doesn’t usually grow more than 30 centimeters tall.
Its leaves are shiny and smooth in texture. They have a light or dark green color, but some may have a purple color on the underside. As for its flowers, they are white and clustered in a spike.
Remember that, as it is an aromatic plant you can prepare it as an infusion, and it’ll provide you with its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits.
Because of its popular name in some regions of Latin America (Money plant), it is believed that keeping and caring for it attracts good fortune to its owner. There is even a myth according to which, if you manage to reproduce it from a cutting and it grows healthy and strong, you’ll earn a lot of money. Also, some people leave coins around it.
How to care for the Swedish Ivy
Like all the plants mentioned in this top, it should be placed in a well-lit space, but not in direct sunlight. Its leaves will wither and fall soon after.
As it is a creeping plant that develops hanging branches, it looks great on a shelf or in a hanging basket. This way they’ll drop their leaves without any problem and will originally decorate your water garden.
Fortunately, it’s quite resistant to pests and diseases.
Also known popularly as ¨skeleton plant¨, it’s an evergreen, climbing plant which has a thick stem but is famous for naturally holed large leaves. When grown indoors, it usually reaches up to about 1 meter long.
It produces cream-colored flowers and edible fruits that taste similar to pineapple. However, fruiting is not common in indoor plants, and the fruit should be consumed with caution, as it is important to be aware of its properties so that it is not harmful.
How to care for the Adam’s Rib
It likes to be in a space with indirect bright sunlight, but you can gradually adapt it to receive direct strong sun rays. It also does well in the shade but won’t have as much vigor.
Clearly, it’ll also require more space to display its large, glossy leaves. Because of this, we recommend you have no more than 2 or 3 stems per container.
Cleaning and dusting with a damp cloth is a good way to keep the plant clean and avoid pests. Among the most common are mealybugs and aphids.
Its leaves are slightly toxic to pets and humans. Generally, eating them will cause mouth and stomach irritation and possible vomiting.
5 steps to create your home water garden
Now that you know what plants to use, here’s how to set up your own water garden at home in just 5 easy steps:
- Select the place where you want to place your water plants, and remember the importance of good lighting and aeration. This can be near a window, on a table or on a shelf.
- Collect glass or crystal jars of all sizes and shapes you can find. You can recycle bottles, preserved food jars, vases or jars that you no longer use or even left-over glasses.
- Choose plants according to the containers you’ll use. The important thing is that they have good space and the container size matches the plant’s size.
- You can add a few stones into the container to anchor the plant and allow it to grow upright. They also enhance the aesthetics of the garden.
- Finally, fill the container with enough water to cover the roots. Collecting rainwater will be spectacular. Although you can also use tap water, it’s best to let it stand for 1 day before using it.
Care for your water garden at home
- Change the water every 2 weeks or when you see its color change, usually to green. When doing so, wash the container with soap and clean the plant’s roots as they usually form a slimy green coating. If the water is still clean but the volume has dropped simply refill the container.
- When the roots have grown and become too tight, it’s time to transplant them to a container with more space.
- You can use liquid fertilizers to provide your plants with more nutrients. Of course, you must be careful that they don’t contain chemical agents; follow the instructions on the package.
- If you notice that the roots are damaged or rotten, do not worry, simply remove or cut the damaged part. You’ll notice that plants in the water will branch out faster and without problems. Change the water when pruning to make the plant feel fresh again.
- If you originally had the plants in a substrate pot, it’s necessary to remove the soil before transferring them to the water container. However, the water may get dirty in a short time while the excess dirt is removed from the plant.
Aspects to consider
If you want to include some fish species in your outdoor water garden they may be fond of chewing on certain plants. You should get information on their feeding habits to avoid losing your water plants.
As for your indoor water garden, all of the plants we mentioned can be planted in soil also. In most cases, plants do better in water, but if over time you see that this is not the case, we recommend transferring them to a substrate pot to prevent their death.
As you could see, this type of plant will save you from doing the activity in which you usually fail the most, watering. Therefore, it’ll be fairly easy for you to care for and maintain them.
Finally, we hope that all this information has been very useful if you want to implement aquatic plants to decorate your home or garden. Don’t forget to share it with your friends or loved ones so that they can also create their own water garden.