Question on overwintering pond plants

dln949July 27, 2008

(My question is very similar to molly229's.)

We have a small pond - basically a small tub buried in the ground. It is about 4' in diameter, and about 30" deep.

We are in zone 4a (SE Minnesota).

I don't know the proper way to overwinter the plants we have. Here is what we have:

Some type of water lily hardy to zone 4 - I've forgotten the name.

Miniature cattails.

Horsetail rush.

Parrot feather

Corkscrew rush

Creeping Jenny


I would like to know the best way to keep these plants over the winter. I do have an outdoor-rated water tank heater. We have a garage, but it is unheated and gets down to about the same temp as the outdoor air in the winter. Our basement is finished, so it is room temperature in the winter, and because it is finished, we don't have a place to have tanks of water and/or mud.

Thanks in advance.

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All of the plants in your pond, with the exception of Parrot Feather, will overwinter in zone 5. You said your pond is 30" deep so make sure your water lily is as deep as you can get it. If it's in a very large pot, you could try cutting back the leaves and planting the tuber in an oilpan or dishpan to keep it deeper. Our temps here in Ontario Canada, get pretty cold and my lilies survive. All of the other plants, your hardy marginals, can be cut back and left where they are. Anyway for now, enjoy your pond as our summers are far too short but it's always nice to be prepared. You have planted excellent plants for your zone.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 6:13PM
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I have corkscrew rush in a pot, on a ledge, should I cut it back and just put it to the bottom of the pond, when the time comes?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 7:59PM
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sheepco(MN z4)

Happt Birthday dln949!

And you're killin'me with this question! I'm just starting to enjoy all my lush growth of summer, it's too soon to be thinking of winter!

I'm near Morris, MN (west central). My pond is 5'x5'x28" deep. I trim my lilies back and sink leave them on the bottom. Most of the marginals can be left where they are, but I sink my potted ones just to be safe. Parrot feather is an annual here.

I have goldfish/comets and I leave them in the pond. I cover 2/3's of the surface with foam board on strips of wood to cut the wind chill factor, throw in a 1000w tank heater and a small aquarium airstone and hope for the best. Two years ago I tried a 100w de-icer and we had a brutal winter and I lost my fish, but no plants.

Be sure your pond is really clean before ice-up, no dead vegetation to rot. And stop feeding the fish when the water hits 50F.

Feel free to ask if you have more questions! S

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 8:04PM
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glad2garden(5, Chicopee, Mass)

sheepco, I've had success with covering my rectangular pond with transparent corrugated acrylic panels. I've never had any ice form and all I use in the pond is a 100w thermo-pond heater. The clear panels allow solar gain and also prevent the cold winter wind from chilling the water. After a heavy snow I go out and broom the snow off the panels, so the sun can get in.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 9:27PM
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Sheepco: Thanks for the birthday greeting. Do you think it is good to have a heater in the pond? The reason I ask is, I've been wondering if some of the plants - e.g., the minicattails, would actually expect and want to be in frozen water. Would keeping the water thawed harm them? (By the way, all my plants - except for the hornwort - are in pots.)

Glad2Garden: Where would I find transparent corrugated acrylic panels (near the size I need, about 4' diameter)? Do you think a hardware store such as Lowe's or Home Depot would have that?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 11:14PM
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sheepco(MN z4)

Good idea glad2garden. I may try that. dln949, Those panels are used for sky lights in corrugated roofs so most of those kind of stores you mentioned should carry them.

I have ice on the edges of my pond, the heater keeps it open in the middle, and keeps the water temp at 40F. My plants do ok so I don't know if they would prefer to be frozen. Most plants don't want their roots frozen solid, and I think in nature the snow, ice, and water insulate the mud or whatever they are growing in enough so the roots don't.


    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 7:54AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

When I don't have enough room for all my plants (zone 5) in the bottom of one of my little ponds (use deicers with in winter), I bury them in the ground, and cover them with a bunch of leaves, and they do fine.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 8:02AM
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magdaloonie(6B-7A Magdalena, NM)

I did a similar thing as Glad2garden's with heavy plastic taped and stapled to a wood frame. The frame was home-made from scrap stuff and re-suable. Got down to 8 deg. with no ice on the water several nights. I ran a bubbler fountain underneath which may have also helped but no heater. I think keeping the wind off was as important and the solar gain.
I wouldn't want a heavy snow on my plastic sheeting, though. We don't get much here. Seems the greenhouse acrylic would be better for snowier places.

This year I have the lotus in a separate tub which I'll bury like Catherine does.


    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 8:36AM
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glad2garden(5, Chicopee, Mass)

Here's a picture of the pond with the winter cover on it. This was before I learned to not even try to keep the water hyacinth growing past the first frost. They can't stand cold water.

I bought the panels at Lowes. The cover has really helped me feel un-anxious about the cold, and I've never lost a fish over winter.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 4:56PM
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