Home & Garden Gardening

Marginal Plants For The Garden Pond

There are 6 groups of plants which you should consider for your pond. This article and a few of the following ones are all about what we call Marginals. When we talk about Marginal plants we think of them as purely ornamental as they do not play a part in maintaining a satisfactory balance in the pond. They only serve 2 functions. The boundary between the water and the pond side is softened which is often desirable in a Formal pond and always essential in an Informal one, they provide floral colour and/or interesting leaves during the growing season. Many types are available. Depending on the variety of plant, the recommended depth for planting is 0 - 6 inches. Their home is on the marginal shelf or in the shallows of the pond. The traditional method of growing them is to plant them in soil at the bottom of the shelf, but it is better to set them in baskets. Do not mix different varieties in a single container. Here are a couple of plants that I have placed into my pond to add a bit of colour.

Carex (Sedge)
The Sedges are included here as they are generally found in the Marginal plant section of the numerous catalogues, but these grassy perennials are generally happier growing in wet soil rather than within the pond. Planting depth when grown as a Marginal is 0 - 2 inches. There is nothing special about these plants, but the yellow-leaved Carex stricta 'Bowles Golden' has become quite popular in recent years. The tall Sedges can look attractive at the water's edge of a large pond, but they have no place in the average sized one. For the ordinary garden pond there are more interesting Marginals than Carex.

Cyperus (Umbrella Grass)
These graceful members of the Sedge family are foliage plants which bear lance-shaped leaves which radiate from the tops of the stems like the ribs of an umbrella. The summer flower heads are branching spikes of tiny brown or reddish flowers. The popular one is the sweet Garlingale (Cyperus longus) which is used to consolidate the banks of natural pond sand is cut for flower arranging. An invasive plant growing to about 3ft high. Planting depth is 3 - 5 inches. The dark green leaves are rough and spiky. C.vegetus is more compact and therefore more suitable for the average garden pond. The leaves are broader than those of C. longus but the stems are only 1- 2ft high. The recommended planting depth is 0 - 4 inches. and it can be grown in a bog garden.

Cotula (Golden Buttons)
A useful Marginal, especially for the small ponds. The spreading leafy clumps are no more than 6 inches high and are covered all summer long with small yellow button-like flowers. The foliage is aromatic. Cotula coronopifolia is an annual and that means that it dies once the flowering season is over. This generally does not pose a problem as the plant readily sets seed and a flush of self-sown seedlings in spring replaces last year's specimens. The recommended planting depth for Cotula is 0 - 5 inches.


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