Monday, April 26, 2010

Cure Water Garden Algae ~ 6 Must Have Plants

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About Pond Algae

Algae will happen... especially during the first year of a new pond.

Algae thrives mostly in hot sunny conditions. It is that greenish-yellowish foamy, slimy substance that covers the water surface. Although it is annoying, algae is a good sign because it tells us the ecosystem below the water is adjusting and transforming into ideal conditions. However, the problem needs to be eliminated before it gets out of control!













To kill off algae growth,an affordable solution called Tetra Pond Algae Control can be added to the water. It only costs $12 a bottle and is found in the fish and koi section of your local pet store. It will not harm fish or plants. This is only a temporary fix until the right oxygenating plants can be added to the pond.




A Natural Solution

Although plants such as water lily and cattail are the most common pond plants, they do not address algae problems. Water gardens need supporting plants to create a healthy environment. A balanced pond ecosystem includes floating oxygenating and clarifying plants. It also includes fish; such as mosquito minnows and the common feeder goldfish. Do not put fancy goldfish in your pond. They are not hardy for the outdoor pond environment! Koi are also not a good choice. Although they are a species of carp and are related to the common goldfish, koi will eat your pond plants!

Plants you must have in your pond...

Water Hyacinth or Water Lettuce AND Hornwort or Anacharis
These are THE plants to include in your pond. With the right mix of pond plants and fish, you might not experience algae problems at all!



1. Anacharis and Hornwort (Coontail)

Anacharis and Hornwort are needed under the water level. These are the primary building block plants of any water garden. Either anacharis or hornwort will be equally effective. They are "free floating" pond plants and do not need to be potted. Hornwort and anacharis naturally filter debris out of the water and provides oxygen for the fish. Some growers prefer to tie fishing line around each bundle and anchor them down with a washer. This is a good idea if you have moving water that would push the plants to one end of the pond.




2. Water Hyacinth and Water Lettuce
Nearly ALL floating pond plants will oxygenate and clarify the water. Water Hyacinth and Water Lettuce will also assist with algae control.

Floating Flowers

Water Hyacinth is distinctive for its large purple flowers. Water lettuce is rose shaped and produces tiny white flowers. Both plants are evasive growers. They have long roots that dangle down into the water, filtering debris. The roots also provide an excellent environment for spawning fish. Water lettuce and hyacinth plants absorb fish emulsion and make excellent mulch in under trees, bushes, and in the vegetable garden. In some parts of South America, water hyacinth is used as cattle feed!



3. Pennywort

Allowed to free float, pennywort will produce a large thick root mass. There are 3 species of pennywort: Regular (Hydrocotyle Verticillata), Variegated (Crystal Confetti), and Giant Blooming Pennywort. For algae control, the regular pennywort is the pond plant of choice, because it is the easiest to grow. It is also eatable! Young pennywort leaves are said to have medicinal properties that aid with pain control.








4. Primrose Creeper

Primrose creeper can also produce a thick root mass if allowed to free float. This is a hardy plant that produces yellow pinwheel flowers and long vines. The leaves turn colors of red and orange in the cold season. Primrose creeper will die back in the cold weather, but does return each year.











5. Parrot Feather

There are 2 species of parrot feather; common Myriophyllum Aquaticum and Dwarf Red Stemmed Parrot Feather. The common parrot feather will grow in partial to full sun. Red stemmed parrot feather grows best in partial sun. This is an easy pond plant to propagate. It also survives well in cold climates. Free floating parrot feather will give the appearance of a tiny forest on the surface of the water! Also good for spawning fish, this plant can also be very evasive.
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6. Fairy Moss (Azolla)

Fairy Moss is a tiny algae-like pond plant that resembles miniature floating fern. Very attractive! It turns shades of orange, yellow, and red in the fall time. However, it can be very evasive and is difficult to eliminate once it is in the water. If you have a water filtration system, fairy moss is not recommended because it will clog the filter. Although it is not an oxygenator or a clarifier, this floating plant is excellent for algae control. Mosquitoes also tend to stay away from ponds that have a good layer of fairy moss.

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Which plants should I choose?

If you were to choose only a few plants to control algae, to oxygenate, and to clarify the pond naturally, my choice is hornwort or anacharis, and the water lettuce or water hyacinth.

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Do I need a water filter for my pond?
Absolutely not! The picture below is a pond in its first year. It has only natural plant filtration and has never had a problem with algae! For the average size pond that is 100-200 gallons, and for small container barrel ponds, there is no need for a filtration system. Let the plants do it for you!

Everyone can have a natural pond
Setting up a balanced natural ecosystem and controlling algae is easy. All that is needed is sunshine and enough plants to cover about 1/3rd of the water surface.


GARDEN BLESSINGS!

GAiL
The Pond Plant Girl

1 comment:

Leigh said...

This post is great! Growing a lot of plants to block sunlight in your pond is really a great way to stop algae from growing. I've tried that it always works for me. I love the plants that you posted here. Might try those in my pond too. Another natural way I keep algae away is to aerate and circulate the water regularly. This cleans my filter and produces a lot of oxygen (decomposing debris depletes oxygen). Found this article to be very helpful in preventing algae growth.