Soil or gravel for plants..?

hardin(7 SE OK)April 3, 2010

Happy Spring and Happy Easter,

I have a few different plants that are going into the pond. Before I go hog wild, I figured I'd ask how they would do best. Last summer my plants were not so great, even my WH bombed, maybe because pond was so new.

So, soil or gravel? Bareroot or in pots? I have:

Blue pickerel weed

Blue Rush

Water Celery

Varigated Sweet Flag

Arrowhead Latifolia (I think)


Parrot feather

Bog Bean

Also, the two bog beans I have, I'm not sure how to go about planting them. They look basically like stalks of aparagus with leaves on top. Do I just stick them in the soil/gravel and will they root?

Thank you,


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I've used a couple different planting mediums for my plants - cat litter, pea gravel, and plain soil (we've got extremely clay-rich soil here, almost like Play-Doh at times).

Most of the lilies are in plain soil and did just great to my untrained eye last year. Anything that is supposedly good at filtering nutrients from the water got put into straight pea gravel (Sweet Flag, Water Celery, and Pickerel Weed). Some of the Pickerel Weed got planted in the cat litter and it performed the same as the P.W. planted in gravel. The Parrot's Feather was planted wherever it was needed, and it didn't seem to much matter what it was planted in (or planted at all - did just fine floating with long streamers of roots). I've got Water Celery coming up all over the place, so it's apparently not finicky about planting medium either.

For marginal plants, I've got most of 'em in mesh baskets lined with landscaping fabric (to keep the gravel/soil/litter from leaching out), the rest in a collection of misc pots and cheap containers (oil drain pans, dish pans, etc).

Can't help ya with the Pennywort (though I'd be willing to bet that it'll handle the same as Parrot Feather), Rush, or Bog Bean, though.

- Mike

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 2:50PM
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I place most of my plants that go into the main pond in containers that get ordinary garden soil topped with pea gravel and rocks. I plant most of my other plants that go into my biofilter and stream bed in mesh pots with gravel, no soil.

My thinking here is this: if the water is swift moving then it goes into all gravel so there is no erosion. If the water is not swift moving (as in my main, large pool) the rocks/gravel will hold and keep the soil in place.

I agree with everything Mike said though.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 6:05PM
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hardin(7 SE OK)

Thanks to both of you. I appreciate the help. Sounds like both ways will work. I will experiment some more this year. Good thinking too, on the slow/fast water idea. Makes sense to me.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 8:55PM
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I have my bog bean planted in soil in pots as it sends out long runners so may be seeking other places to pot itself. It's one of the earliest plants in my pond to green up. The ice left this weekend and the plant is already greening. Some plants don't like fast moving water. I've heard watercress likes it and I got some last year but it didn't like my pond or something as failed to thrive. I've found that when I plant parrot feather in dirt it gets bushier and grows faster than if just stuck amongst the rocks along the edge. My iris that were planted in gravel havn't done as well as the ones planted in dirt in pots although on another pond site on vege filters the guy swore by Iris bare rooted in gravel as long as the water was moving through the roots was better for filtration than any other plants he had tried. So I guess bottom line is try both.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 12:55AM
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hardin(7 SE OK)

I'd heard that to about the iris. I don't know that I will add any to the pond, but they are pretty. I am hoping that my plants will do better this year. I think I may have lost my arrowhead (unknown reason) and will just freshen up the soil and add some pennywort and sprigs of parrot feather. Thank you.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 10:25PM
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hardin....Can you email me at about the lotus tubers please.....If you are interested in any I was at the Pick of Day in Ada today and they had WH and luttuse plants for $3.00 each

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 2:29PM
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I go with bareroot and have plants that have been in the pond for years. In the past my plants did not perform well due to a high PH. The PH has adjusted and the plants do well now. No soil, and no fertilizer.

I have:

Water celery
Pickeral Rush
Water iris
Regular Grass
Varigated Grass (rhyzome type)
Creeping Jenny
Water lily
Globe flower


    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 11:03PM
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I never used sand or gravel in any of our bog plants that were put straight into the pond. The reason being that it is a mess if one of the plants falls into the pond, the dirt starts to turn sour and polute the pond plus, my favourite, putting the plants into a container with lots of holes and no dirt will allow the roots to go through the holes in the container to help filter the water and be a safe haven for your fish.

Yours Koily, Lorraine

    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 7:27PM
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thomba(z6a sw IN)

water lilies and iris in pea gravel, plastic baskets. Did a couple of plant with "pond soil" that was some kind of small rock. I have more pea gravel on standby for additions, lily splits.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 5:52PM
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for the past 3 years I've used either pea grvel, batting or a combination of both. If I use a pot then I put in some batting, a bit of a job plant spike the bare rooted plant, surround with batting adn genelly top of with pea gravel to keep the batting in place - it makes the pot lighter than with all gravel. In my islands it's mostly batting with gravel on top for looks. I grow impateins, bird of paradise, marigolds, iris, dragon's tail, pickeral rush, coleus all with no soil. Have acouple other plants as well. key is to keep the plant crown above the water level for most non pond plants

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 9:29PM
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mckool - what is batting? I'm a new pond gardner and want to learn as much as possible, quickly.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 9:45PM
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Hi Mckool, I too am a new pond gardener. Some time back I saw many bird of paradise (or of that family) growing in a pot kept underwater (the pot was entirely submerged and the stems grew through and above the waterline) and it flowered quite profusely, and the plants were about 8ft tall or more.

The person growing that was not very communicative and I did not get an opportunity to ask him the details on how to keep non-pond plant roots underwater.

I've looked on the web for the bird of paradise underwater but can't find any info, and would be highly appreciative if you could give me a rundown on how to do this.

Is it ok to take an existing soil potted bird and put it underwater with the right prep?

Thanks in advance for your advice!

This post was edited by Pondream on Wed, Jul 24, 13 at 4:32

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 4:34AM
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@ rytrlld: Batting is quilt batting, comes in a roll & can be found at wally world or any fabric store. Excellent filter material, I use it in my skippy.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 8:04PM
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