Pond plant propagation or repotting

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Pond plant propagation is a good method of producing more plants to extend the amount of planting in your pond.

Propagating options are:

  1. Seed raising
  2. Division of clump forming plants
  3. Stem cuttings
  4. Bulbil collection

What you will need:

  1. Clay based Aquatic compost
  2. Mesh baskets
  3. Scissors
  4. Knife
  5. Feed tabs

Repotting plants for a pond:

Our plants are correctly planted in aquatic compost and mesh baskets ready for you to lower into the water when they arrive.

Aquatic compost:

  • Use a clay/loam mix aquatic compost for aquatic plants.
  • Do not use ordinary, multipurpose potting compost for pond plants as this is too light and will contain peat (which will decompose when submerged in water and rot the plant roots) or coir (which will float away when submerged).
  • Aquatic soil is available in bags in most garden centres and should be brown not black.
  • Aquatic compost should hold together when squeezed.

Mesh baskets:

  • Pond plants grow in mesh aquatic baskets.
  • Mesh baskets are available in various sizes and allow water to circulate through the compost allowing the transfer of oxygen and nutrients between the water and the plant.
  • Mesh holes allow the plant roots to escape from cramped conditions inside the basket and stretch out into the water to gain more contact between the root surfaces and the water to soak up more nutrients from the water.
  • Move a plant into a larger mesh basket when it grows and anchor in aquatic compost or washed gravel.

Top tips on how to repot all pond plants:

1. Pond plant roots will rot if confined in too small a space - cut back all root growth to less than the height of the basket so they are not squashed.
2. Add Feed balls when repotting to boost plant growth - 1 Feed ball per 11cm basket (1 litre of compost)
3. Press firmly down to avoid loose soil floating in water & place newly potted plants on a shallow shelf until roots show through the mesh basket.

Methods of pond plant propagation for each variety:

Plant seeds division cutting bulbils
Alisma plantago-aquatica x x
Anemopsis californica x
Butomus varieties x* x
Caltha palustris x x
Caltha palustris Stagnalis x
Carex acutiformis x
Cyperus varieties x x
Equisetum scirpoides x
Eriophorum angustifolium x
Hesperantha coccinea Pink x
Houttuynia cordata Chameleon x
Iris varieties x* x
Isolepis cernua x
Juncus ensifolius x x
Lythrum salicaria x x
Mentha aquatica x x
Mentha cervina varieties x x x
Myosotis varieties x x x
Oenanthe javanica Flamingo x
Pontederia varieties x x
Potentilla palustris x
Primula florindae varieties x* x
Ranunculus flammula x x
Rorippa nasturtium aquaticum x x
Sagittaria sagittifolia x
Typha varieties x
Veronica beccabunga x x

*Named varieties of  Butomus or Iris will not come true from seed and must be propagated by division

Seed raising:

1. Collect fresh seed from any plants as soon as ready & falling naturally.
2. Sow as soon as possible after collection in seed or plug tray.
3. Use good quality Seed Compost and place seed tray in tray of shallow water.
4. Some seeds can take a season to germinate so have patience and do not throw the tray away too early.
5. Pot into larger mesh baskets when mature.

Plant Division:

Top tip: Propagate pond plants by dividing soon after flowering in Spring and Summer when still in active growth.
Divide late flowering plants next Spring. Remove any old growth with care - the outer dead leaf may be protecting new growth. Unwrap before cutting back.

1. Cut down top growth of plant foliage to 25cm/6" high.
2. Tease apart the different parts of the plant crown using your hands (Caltha palustris)
3. Butomus can be separated and broken into individual pieces. Lay out pieces of hard rhizome as a layer on compost and cover completely to repot.
4. Divide using a knife if difficult to split (Iris) - try and find a place between rhizomes or crowns so as not to cut into the plant material. (Iris should be left as fans of 3-5 shoots).

Top tip: Do not split any plants too small in one go.
5. Trim the fleshy white roots to around 3" long to avoid squashing into the basket.
6. Pot into mesh baskets using clay based aquatic compost and a Feed balls for Aquatic plants ensuring the roots are slightly spread out within the basket.
7. Ensure that the crown of the plant is not buried too far below the surface of the compost when pressing down.

Runner cuttings/Stem cuttings:

Runner cuttings on rafting plants:

1. Cut sections from the growing stem of the plant so each section contains a shoot and a portion of stem with root growth.
2. Pot rooted plantlets into a mesh basket & aquatic compost with a feed ball.

Top tip: Do not cut a shoot from the parent runner until it has root growth.

Stem cuttings on upright plants:

1. Cut a 4", non-flowering portion from the growing tip of the plant just below a leaf junction (node).
2. Strip any leaves from the bottom half of the stem cutting.
3. Place in water keeping propped up vertically.
4. When rooted at the node pot up 3 -5 stems in a mesh basket with aquatic compost and a feed ball.


1. Collect bulbils in late Summer or Autumn seen spreading around the outside of the mesh basket and pot deeply into new baskets of aquatic compost.

The parent basket of Sagittaria may or may not flower again the next year but as each will have provided many turions it will not be lost to the pond.