Your pond plants in Autumn

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In Autumn your pond plants will start to go brown.

Most plants will start to decay in Autumn - the plants are not dying but some are losing their leaf growth and reverting back to buds, rhizomes or corms to overwinter. This is nothing to worry about - they will shoot into growth again next Spring.

General rules in Autumn:

  • Remove dying foliage
  • Cut back tall stems to 6"  above Winter water level
  • Ensure the basket is at the correct depth as per its ticket

We have photographed some of our plants in the Nursery in October so that you can see that yours are looking just the same.

  • Cut back foliage on Anemopsis californica before it rots into the water.
  • Pull out the brown leaf of Butomus umbellatus by hand or cut back and remove so it does not rot down into the water.
  • Cut back the marked or greying foliage of Caltha palustris.
  • Cut down dead brown stems of Cyperus involucratus to above the water level but leave any green stems until Spring before cutting back.
  • Leave any Equisetum species plants with foliage intact - some stems will go orange and some grey. Neaten off in Spring by rubbing your hand over the surface roughly or trimming the top of the stems. But only remove the non-green parts. If you cut the green stems they will take some time to regrow.
  • Cut down any Iris species foliage to 6" above water surface level.
  • Cut Lythrum salicaria woody stems down to 6" above water surface level. They will reshoot in Spring from the hard wood stem.
  •  Remove some of the stems of Myosotis species stem growth you can see above the water line to control spread. Leave the black stems under the water so they can reshoot next Spring. If you have a young plant from this year leave it to spread further next year.
  • Cut back the leaf of Pontederia cordata species before they fall and rot but leave the stalks 6" above the Winter water level of your pond as the stems are hollow.
  • Pull off the grey, dying leaf of Potentilla palustris but leave the woody, rafting stem intact unless you want to reduce the spread of the plant.
  • Do not cut down the growing stems of Typha species but you can trim dead stems and leaf to 6" above the Winter water level of your pond.
  • Remove dying brown leaves of any waterlilies and any flower buds that are lying sideways on the water surface that are going to sink. Follow this link for more details on Looking after Water lilies in Autumn


  • Shake & check all cut back foliage to remove any creatures hiding in it.
  • Leave on the side of the pond for a while. This lets any more wildlife get back to the water.
  • Return later in the day & take all the debris and cuttings to the proper compost heap in the garden.

You do not want to create a compost heap of dying leaf and stem in the bottom of the pond! That will make the pond very smelly over time.

To Read More about Autumn work for Winter pond preparation please go to our other advice page on Cleaning and Maintaining the pond.