Should I choose British Native plants for my pond?

Oxygenating plants should always be British Native plant species as all the Non-Native are highly vigorous in Summer and some can be suspect in our Winters. In a new pond, the stocking rate for oxygenating plants should be two bunches/portions or 9cm pots per m² of surface area.

Callitriche palustris (Starwort), Myriophyllum spicatum (Spiked Milfoil) or Ceratophyllum demersum (Hornwort) are good for starting up wildlife ponds and can be used together. They occupy different areas of the pond as do the wildlife species you hope to attract – Hornwort and Spiked Milfoil give underwater cover for newts, frogs and toads and the Starwort gives surface protection and cover for tadpoles and water boatmen whilst both use up the nitrates in the water and help to avoid the growth of blanketweed and other algaes. Potamogeton crispus is valuable in a more shady pond and Ranunculus aquatilis for moving water.

Not all the marginal pond plant species for a wildlife pond have to be British Natives – some other Non-Native species such as Pontederia and Mentha cervina add a later flowering season for the benefit of pollinating insects and interesting leaf structure to a late season wildlife pond.

Some British Natives pond plants can be too vigorous for a small scale area. There are smaller varieties such as Juncus ensifolius, Caltha palustris var. alba that are all members of a family that contain Native plants but these particular varieties are not classed as Native pond plants. Because of the ‘family connections’ they do not look out of place in a wildlife setting and are not invasive. These can make interesting additions to a wildlife pond in a smaller scale area than the Natives –  Juncus effusus and Cyperus longus which are all more vigorous.

There is only one Native waterlily and that is potentially large and only in white. Smaller white waterlilies are available for a smaller pond that are not Native and these are used in our smallest Native pond scheme. Coloured (red, pink and yellow) waterlilies are available in the non native category and are used in the Pond starter collections along with more brightly coloured flowers and variegated foliage.

Purchase the Native pond Planting scheme and we will send you a scheme that will introduce a balance of pond plant species for a small wildlife pond including plants for different positions in the pond. For a larger pond: Native Planting scheme 2 or 3 can be purchased.

Muddy to moist areas – Blending out from the wet areas of the pond the wetland habitat planting should be dense in places to allow the creatures that come and go from the water at various stages of their life cycles to do so safely under the protection of plant foliage. In the boggy, waterlogged wetland areas pond plants that like wet mud can be used <p>Suitable for shelf depth 0-13cm (0-5”) below water surface</p> or <p>Suitable for waterlogged soil (wet mud)</p> Caltha, Iris, Eriophorum and again it depends on the scale of your project whether Natives or Non Natives are preferred.

If you have created a separate area for moist loving plants alongside your linered pond then plants for moist or damp conditions <p>Suitable for moist soil (damp but drained)</p> can be used to create the necessary sheltered habitat eg. Non Natives include – Darmera peltata, Iris ensata and Ligularia species whereas Natives would be Eupatorium cannabinum (Hemp Agrimony), Filipendula ulmaria (Meadowsweet), Lychnis flos-cuculi (Ragged Robin) or Geum rivale (Water Avens)

The Native schemes will strict rigidly to Native only plants but the other schemes could contain either Natives or Non-Natives to give the broadest seasonal cover possible.

The 2015 publication from RHS ‘Plants for Bugs‘ says:

‘The best strategy for gardeners wanting to support pollinating insects in gardens is to plant a mix of flowering plants from different countries and regions. Emphasis should be given to plants native to the UK and the Northern Hemisphere but exotic plants from the Southern Hemisphere can be used to extend the season to provide nectar and pollen for some specific pollinators.

In essence, the more flowers a garden can offer throughout the year, the greater the number of bees, hoverflies and other pollinating insects it will attract and support.’

So when planting a garden pond the same principles can be applied – consider the seasons, both early and late when there is less in flower for insects to forage and try to have some plants flowering every month.

From Aponogeton distachyos in Feb/March through to Hesperantha coccinea in November.

Did your pond or moist area have a month this year with no flowers for pollinating insects?

Add a mixture of plants from different regions to maximize the support for pollinating insects in your garden and pond. For example: this allows you to choose Iris versicolor varieties rather than the Native large Yellow flag Iris (pseudacorus) if this is too large in scale for your pond area.

Refer to our pollinating plants page for image examples of the pond and moist area plants that are ideal for pollinating insects.

Many of these plants are British in origin as they are well adapted to our climate but they should be supplemented by Non British Natives to give the maximum opportunities for pollinating insects.

Avoid double flowers that are not useful to the insects.

Choose our Pond Starter Collections which contain a mixture of Native and Non Native plants.