Small Garden Pond and Pond Plants – Autumn Care
Care in the autumn
During the autumn months, the wind will blow dead leaves, cones and various berries, etc. into yourpond. This will add nutrients to the pond water which will rapidly cause the quality of the water to deteriorate, particularly in smaller ponds. Dead leaves and parts of pond plants should be fished out of the garden pond with a net.
Berries and seeds are particularly likely to make the quality of the water deteriorate through decay and fermentation processes. Cones from conifers release resins and tannins which all harm pond life. Small quantities of fallen leaves are not quite such a serious matter; they usually decay and decompose and will later serve as a natural source of nutrients for. Larger quantities of fallen leaves should definitely be removed in the autumn by skimming them from the surface of the water.
If berries, cones and foliage have already sunk to the bottom of the small garden pond, use a fishing net to clean the pond floor, not a rake which might easily damage water plants or the pond liner.
Overwintering quarters for small creatures
Most pond plants die down in the autumn. If you have planted reeds all around your small garden pond, many dead stalks will protrude from the water. Resist the temptation to cut back all of these hollow stalks as many tiny creatures overwinter inside them. The stalks also serve as an oxygen supplier to the rhizomes when the garden pond is covered with a thick layer of ice in the winter. If you still want to cut away the dead stalks, please wait until spring. After a few warmer days, about the middle of the first month of spring, the little creatures will begin to leave the stalks. Even then, you should only cut the portions of stalks protruding above the surface of the water, so as not to endanger the oxygen supply to the rhizomes. Watch out for the many marginal plants while cutting back reeds as the young shoots of these plants are fairly inconspicuous and can easily be destroyed.
Overwintering pond plants
How well your pond plants manage to cope with the winter will depend on whether they are hardy or not.
Hardy pond plants
These plants should be overwintered in the pond. Their roots will then not be damaged which might otherwise be inevitable if larger plants are removed from the pond. Many pond plants retract in the autumn, which means that they withdraw nutrients from their leaves and transport them to the overwintering parts like roots and rhizomes. The leaves will die off. Some species only overwinter in the shape of overwintering buds and are almost invisible in that state. In all of these cases, you need not worry about the plants as they are able to look after themselves very well.
Non-hardy pond plants
Non-hardy plants, like some water-lily species are best planted in plant containers in your garden pond. This will avoid damaging the roots and other pond plants when they are removed for overwintering in the autumn.
Plants in containers should be over-wintered in a cool but frost-free position, e.g. in a cellar window or a conservatory. The container should be placed underwater in a larger container. In the case of less-sensitive species, you may also cover the plant with dead leaves and leave it standing outside. You will only need to water the container during long periods of drought in order to keep the plants constantly moist.
Tropical water-must be over-wintered in a heated water bath at a minimum temperature of 20°C (68°F) and should not be put back into the pond before the end of the last month of spring.
A certain basic stock of your pond plants will give the small garden pond its character throughout the years. The continuing development of the small garden pond will create the most diverse growing conditions during the first few years. When planting other pond plants later on, you can try some plants again that might not have taken very well during the first few years. It is quite possible that they may suddenly feel quite at home in your now more mature small garden pond. If you want to introduce new species of pond plants to an already well-established pond, it will be sufficient if you merely thin out some of the neighbouring plants to give the newcomers enough light and a chance to establish themselves.
If you have a large stock of fish, you should plant new underwater pond plants fairly often. Some species of fish prefer soft underwater plants as a food supply.