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    Thread: Why are my water plants having disappointing growth?

    1. #1
      Hop-frog is offline Member
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      Why are my water plants having disappointing growth?

      I have an 20k+ gallon pond, completed a few months ago. The surface area is quite large, equal to two tennis courts, so I wanted to get lots to provide shade.

      So I researched aquatic plants native to my state of New Mexico, purchased about 10 of those, plus added about 5 plants from suppliers in neighboring Texas sellers, then 15 more random species of aquatic plants. So, in total, probably 25-30 different species, across 45 pots. I planted these in 10"x10" plastic pots, adding a thin layer of gravel, then 1-3" of pond-friendly soil (depending on the size of the roots), then 2-3 API Pond Plant tabs planted at the roots, 4-5 planted under the really large plants. I put these in a shallow area, such that the top leaves are within about 1" of the surface, and also moved them upwind, so any floating items did not cover them.

      Two months later:

      1. About 10 of the plants wilted, or became uprooted and disappeared in the pond.
      2. About 20 of the plants look healthy, but also did not appear to grow in any noticeable amount.
      3. I planted four different types of water lilies. Three grew new leaves, but stopped after reaching 3 leaves, 3" across.
      4. Only 2 other plants seem to be growing significantly.

      I'm not a plant expert, but expected that having planted so many species, at least some would take off and grow a lot, providing a nice hiding place and shade for the fish. The only big change that came from planting these, were the plant tabs seems to have fed the algae, causing an immediate algae bloom. Also the wind knocked over some pots, so the dirt has muddied the water.

      I'm told the area is hard to grow plants: 1. high elevation, 2. a major drought this year, 3. frequent winds of 25 mph, 4. poor soil conditions Not sure any of that matters to plants inside a pond.

      Though I'm surprised at the success rate (only about 10 pots failing), the growth rate in two months is disappointing. Even the duckweed, which was introduced accidentally to the pond, multiplied for about a week, then all died.

      Any ideas why none of the plants in my pond are not really taking off?

    2. #2
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      This is a silly question, but I have to ask. Do you have aeration in your pond? With your plants dying maybe it is not getting enough aeration. I found that out with my DW's Lily Pond, once I have aeration in the pond the lilies seems to strive a lot better than before.

      As far as the plants became wilted or uprooted and disappeared into the pond, maybe it's the animal doing it? like racoons? Or other critters that loves to dig around the plants. Maybe some of the other members have a better explanation on that.
      -=[Sunny]=-

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    3. #3
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      1”-3” of soil is not enough soil. Plants such as lilies need more soil than that, generally 4-5 inches or more. How much sun are they getting each day? Also, lilies need 5-6 inches of water above their crown, but if you are in the hotter areas of New Mexico they would need a little more so they do not get as much heat. Did you make sure when you put the fertilizer tabs in that they were an inch or two away from the roots? Roots can grow to the fertilizer, but when fertilizer is placed on the roots it burns them and kills the plant.
      Depending on the marginal, they can sometimes tolerate only an inch or two of water over their crowns.
      What kind of fish are in there? Fish can knock over the pots, as well as dig up the plants.
      I hope this helps.
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    4. #4
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      Quote Originally Posted by EmeraldDragon View Post
      This is a silly question, but I have to ask. Do you have aeration in your pond?
      I have an 12 inch disk powered by a MEDO LA-80BN, though in the center, the bubbles spread out across the surface, plus there is a small 3 ft wide waterfall that seems to add more bubbles. I thought the fish needed oxygen, not the plants though.

    5. #5
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      Quote Originally Posted by matherfish View Post
      1”-3” of soil is not enough soil. Plants such as lilies need more soil than that, generally 4-5 inches or more. How much sun are they getting each day? Also, lilies need 5-6 inches of water above their crown, but if you are in the hotter areas of New Mexico they would need a little more so they do not get as much heat. Did you make sure when you put the fertilizer tabs in that they were an inch or two away from the roots? Roots can grow to the fertilizer, but when fertilizer is placed on the roots it burns them and kills the plant.
      Depending on the marginal, they can sometimes tolerate only an inch or two of water over their crowns.
      What kind of fish are in there? Fish can knock over the pots, as well as dig up the plants.
      I hope this helps.
      Okay, it seems I completely misplanted them. They're in much shallower water, and I put the root tabs directly against the roots. The root tabs have puffed up, liking like whipped cream.

    6. #6
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      Quote Originally Posted by Hop-frog View Post
      I have an 12 inch disk powered by a MEDO LA-80BN, though in the center, the bubbles spread out across the surface, plus there is a small 3 ft wide waterfall that seems to add more bubbles. I thought the fish needed oxygen, not the plants though.
      Well, that's what I thought at first. And when I put more bubbles for the fishes, because they were dying. my DW's lilies were also doing a lot better too. Go figured, they (the lilies) generates oxygen during the day, but not at night. And somewhere along the line, I have noticed that they are doing well with more oxygen.
      -=[Sunny]=-

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    7. #7
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      Replanted all of the lillies, giving them more soil, and moved them to a deeper area. The leaves that were there fell off, but already new leaves have grown, each lillie has about 3 leaves each now, so seem to be doing much better than before.

    8. #8
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      That is good news. Hopefully before long you will have some beautiful blooms.
      Nancy



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    9. #9
      One Poet's Garden's Avatar
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      In the eastern forests - most places east of the Mississippi, actually - soil is generally acidic: between 6-7. In arid western climates, though, the opposite is true. I wouldn't be surprised if the soil in New Mexico came in around 7-8.

      Because the soil in my garden is particularly acidic - around 5 - I can't use it for potting up my pond plants. So I've been using kitty litter instead. This stuff doesn't have chemicals added to it: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Special-K...25-lb/10293705. That stuff may work better than your native soil.

      Those API plant tabs can get pricey right quick. Based on advice here, I've been using this fertilizer: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G8FF3P8/ . It works pretty well.

      Hope this helps,

      Bill

    10. #10
      CraigP's Avatar
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      When it comes to aquatics, I have a similar problem/regimen. Soil tested by the local extension service comes in generally with a pH lower than 5. A common solution here by professional aquatic growers is to forgo 'soil' and use plain, old DOT grade sand. The plants are planted in pots with holes and the bottom of the pot ( the pots are standard i gallon nursery pots ) with enough peat added to cover the holes so the roots still get a gas exchange, but the sand cannot leak out. I apply the fertilizer at a rate of 28 g ( 1 ounce ) per sq/ft of surface area. As suggested in a Aquatic Plant coarse I took at UF/IFAS. I used Osmocote triple 14 for years, but in the warm south FL summers, it did not last 90 days. When I read the MSDS and suggested use instructions....the 90 day release is at a water temp of 70 F, which is pretty much winter here. < g > At real life temps, 90+ F, it was formulated to last only 30 days. I switched to nutricote/florikan and a similar N-P-K but a 270 day release. This fertilizer doesn't release until a water temp over 80 F. I realize this isn't for everyone, but in hot climates, I found it to be more serviceable than the Osmocote, which obviously would be perfect for cooler temps.
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