Mini Ponds: A pond in a pot? Why not?

A decorative pot of aquatic garden plants on your patio or deck or located close to the house is not only beautiful, it can provide unique gardener’s experience; it is one of the lowest maintenance gardening you will ever do. You can’t over water them and it is very difficult to under water them too. Water features are always a great asset to your garden indoors and outdoors. They add a natural setting, attract wild life; birds and frogs and provided a cool calming respite for both you and your garden visitors. When you add a small fountain you can also enjoy the sound of moving water.

Containers
A teacup or a half whisky barrel can house a water garden. From one gallon to 20 to even 500 gallons, any tub, pot, barrel, or container that can hold water can be used. Many commercial containers are available or you might consider things like small kiddies pools, watering troughs, lined whisky barrels, even old bathtubs, plastic fiber glass pots, the larger it is, the easier it will be to maintain healthy fish, if you so desire them. Pumps and fountains are not required but add to the pleasure of a water garden and can help in maintaining fish. Since water weighs eight to a third pounds per gallon, a 20 gallon container could weight 200 pounds when water, plants, soil and container are all added up. Select a location for the water garden that can carry the weight. A tall deck may not be able to hold a large container. If you add a fountain, the water garden will become a focal point for the patio or outdoor garden. If you are using wooden containers, such as wine and whisky barrels, they may contain bacteria harmful to plants and fish. If a wood container is just what you want, line it with heavy-guage plastic bag or a pre-formed plastic liner.

Planting the Garden
Plants used in the small aquatic garden are grown in separate pots and then these pots are placed into the water-filled container. Heavy clay garden soil is used as a potting media. After the plant is potted, top the soil with ½ to ¾ inch layer of pea gravel to help keep the soil in place. Add the plant and water, and you are done. Don’t use potting soil or any type of mix containing fertilizer, as many of the ingredients are too light and will float, causing the water to always be a mess. Take note the type of water used to fill your container. City water supplies are commonly with chlorine, it’s a good idea to let the tub sit for 24-48 hours before adding the plants to allow the chlorine to evaporate or you might want to purchase a product to remove the chlorine which can be purchased from pond supply dealers. Don’t use water from a water softener and don’t’ add chemicals to the water.

Large pots can be planted just like the small one with several types of plants all growing together in the container, Large containers can also hold smaller pots to make a water garden arrangement that is easily changed as the plants grow or as the gardener decides to rearrange it. If the plants used prefer different depth of water, some can be set on pedestals to raise them to the proper level. Bricks, stones and flowerpots can all be used. Solid pedestals materials like bricks replace water volume, so if fish are being added, they will have less water available. Plastic pot will float and be difficult to use upside down ,clay pots often work very well. A tub garden is a miniature eco-system of plants, water and fish. This system must come into balance, which means that the plant and animal life are able to hold the algae growth in check. It takes about 3-4 weeks for this to happen. Two weeks after you set up the garden, the water will turn cloudy with algae. In another week or so. The aquatic plants and animals keep the algae under control by reducing the sunlight entering the water and competing with the algae.

Plants for the Aquatic Garden.
Aquatic gardens need a mix of plants to attain balanced systems. These plants can be a combination of emergent, submerged and floaters. Utilizing the various types of water plants-floating leaf aquatics, oxygenating grasses, bog and marginal water plant species creates pond pots. They all thrive in water but have different growing habits and water depth requirements.

Submerge Plants are also called oxygenators and help maintain the pH balance of the pond pot’s water. Examples are wild celery, fanwort (Cabomba Canadensis) anachris (Egeria densa) feathergrass, and bloodgrass they grow deeply submerged and either sit at the bottom of the pot or float on the water’s surface.

Emergent Plants. These plants are potted and placed from 3-6 inches below the surface of the water. Some to consider are: Arrowheads, Dwarf Papyrus, Cork Screw Rush,

Deep Water Plants
Some plant like water lilies need deep water- at least 1 foot of water above their root and they need a few square feet to spread their foliage. Water lilies help cool the water and reduce algae growth.

Marginal
Marginal water plants grow 1-12 inches under water in the margins of ponds, between the shore and deep water. Marginal plants are favorites in small pond pots and visually sit at the bottom of the pot examples are horsetail and yellow iris (iris pseudacorus)

Bog Plants
Water in the pond pot should cover a bog plants soil Bog plants grow naturally in shallow water at a pond’s perimeter. In a pond pot if may be necessary to set bog plants on top of rocks or small inverted pots to create a more shallow water environment.

Floaters
These plants add finishing touch to the water surface. Floating plants such as water hyacinths and water lettuce, parrot’s feather, giant velvet leaf, water hyacinths multiply rapidly so there is need to cull some of the plant regularly.

Location And Plant’s Selection
When selecting water plants for your pond pot consider the lighting conditions where the pond will be located. Morning sun or protected, partially sunny spots are optimal locations. This mild environment protects water plants from intense heat of afternoon sun that can burn and harm the plants (and certainly threaten any fish) Tall horsetail rush, umbrella palm and floating water hyacinth are perfect combination for a partially sunny location.

Fish and Fountains
Pond creatures can be added to your water garden for added interest and to help in maintaining the ecosystem balance. You can populate your pond depending on its size with fish such as guppies, plantys or gambezi are good choices, they do well in variable water temperatures of a small patio pond plus they eat mosquitoes. Small goldfish and mosquitoes fish are recommended. Gambusia, a type of fish actually eats mosquito larvae. Gold fish and Koi will also remedy the problem of eating up undesirable mosquitoes. Koi are expensive and grow to a fairly large size, so be sure that they have the space to grow. Gold fish will grow to the size of the pot as well; it is recommended that you house 1 fish per 10 gallons of water. They (koi or goldfish) alike will do much better in aerated water, so if you do not want a fountain in your pond-in-the-pot, you can add an air stone at the bottom just to keep your fish happy and healthy. Oxygenating floating plants are also useful for this purpose. If you don’t want fish at all, then you get a mosquito ‘dunk’ a little “ doughnut” of Bacillus thuringiensis simply float it in the pot to fend off the buzzing menace from breeding in your pond pot.

Gurgling fountains can easily be installed into pond pots.
These re-circulating fountains create the comforting sound of running water and may increase the enjoyment of your water haven. There are low gmp(60-100gmp) pumps that don’t move tons of water, but just enough to make your water feature trickle pleasantly. In a container, you don’t want splashy, noisy, heavy pumps. Pond fountains will also discourage mosquitoes from breeding in the water-they don’t like moving water.

Maintenance
Amazingly and wonderfully, a pond-in-a-pot requires a minimum of maintenance. You need only top-off the pot occasionally when evaporation takes hold. Every few months, it’s recommended that you change out a quarter of the water with fresh, and at least once a year, give the pot a thorough 100% cleaning and scrubbing (no detergents). Algae can be controlled with the fish and plants etc. Other than that, your pond requires little maintenance. It’s the perfect, delicate accent to any garden, large or small. You will be proud of the end product and I’m sure you will enjoy it for a long time spend lots of time fussing with it because it’s so alive, soothing and beautiful. You’ll get a lot of satisfaction, just watching your water-lilies put out leaf after leaf, and then bloom so magnificently.

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