Invasive Water Garden Plants

Invasive Pond Plants

There are quite a few plants in the water gardening world that are considered invasive. Garden Ponds is proud to be an invasive-free nursery, and we spend a lot of energy making sure it stays that way. Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about how to deal with invasive pond plants. We have developed a strict quarantine process to cleanse our water gardens of any of these pesky plants.

What are invasive pond plants? They are water plants that thrive and multiply to the point of total take over. To name a few, bladderwort, salvinia, duckweed, fairy fern, and pondweed are some of our least favorites. They are all unique with their own characteristics and require different methods of quarantine. Salvinia stays at the surface, and is easy to remove from a water garden, but near impossible to remove from the riverways if even one piece gets in. Duckweed fills the surface, is very small, and gets stuck in the other plants.  It will float beneath the surface when you try to net it out. Duckweed invasions require a full container re-do to remove it. The same is required for invasions of bladderwort and pondweed, which only grow under the water’s surface.

How do invasive water plants spread? People can easily spread these plants by not being careful. Just a tiny piece of invasive plant material can spread like wildfire in a single body of water if it gets in. Some nurseries sell water plants that are riddled with invasives that you will take home with you. Also, if you have any invasives in a natural pond, they can be spread to streams and riverways if flooding in your area carries them away. Sometimes though, we have very little control over it because even a frog or a bird traveling from your neighbor’s pond into your pond can innocently spread invasive plants.

How do we control the spread of invasive pond plants? First, we educate our staff on what all the invasive species look like. If they are found, they are immediately marked to prevent further spread. To quarantine the water lilies, we take each water lily out of it’s pot and give it a 3-rinse bath with thorough examination. We re-pot and place plants in a new water container; they are then placed under a 5-week quarantine observation. Nobody moves or sells them for 5-weeks, so we can make sure the invasive species don’t grow back.

Are there good invasive water plants? There are a couple plants that are very helpful to some water gardens but are also considered invasive. Duckweed is high in protein and can be grown in controlled environments to feed fish such as tilapia. Oil weed (muskgrass), is great for keeping mosquitos out of shallow pots.  If you’ve ever seen water hyacinth in the rivers, you can tell that it grows very invasively. However, this plant has the miraculous ability to pull excess nutrients and heavy metals out of the water and can sometimes turn your murky pond crystal clear in just a week or two. We are very careful to only use this plant in water containers to keep it from spreading into any rivers or natural ponds, and we are sure to tell our customers to keep the same protocol. Although it is one of the fastest reproducing plants, it is easy to scoop out of your containers, and lucky for us it makes amazing compost!

If you have any questions about potential invasive water plants in your water garden, take a picture and come down to Garden Ponds to show us. We are always happy to answer any questions you may have about your water garden.

If we do maintenance on your pond regularly, we will have to remove any invasives we find so that we do not spread them to our other accounts. We use our standard quarantine rinse and repot process to save your plants and get rid of any invasives that they have been infested with. Some invasives are harder to get rid of than others, but most containers will have to be drained, rinsed, and refilled. If your bill is usually the same because we spend a consistent amount of time on maintenance, you may see an increase if we had to spend extra time during a visit for invasive-control. We will do our best to keep you informed, but it is most effective to act quickly when we see these problems so they do not become worse or spread to your other ponds.

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