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Pond plants are broken down into two basic categories: hardy and non-hardy. The agriculture zone that you live in will determine what you will do with your pond plants for the winter.

The first thing you will need to do is refer to the Zone Hardiness Chart  and determine which plants you have in your pond that are hardy for you. Keep in mind there will be some varying factors on winter survival in the pond and the USDA Zone hardiness charts are general guidelines as to how hardy the plant may be.

For example a plant that is only hardy say in zone 7 may actually survive the winter at the bottom of the pond if it is a mild winter in zone 6. But if it is a colder, harsher winter than normal the same plant that is hardy in zone 7, may die even though you live in zone 7. So my best advice to you is if the plant is expensive or has sentimental value, if there is a doubt if it will survive the winter, plan to make other arrangements for the plant other than keeping it in the pond for the winter. Most folks will just discard inexpensive plants, and replace them the following year just like they do the annual flowers that they plant in their flower beds each spring.

Any plant that is hardy for you can be over wintered in the pond. All you will need to do is drop the plant to the bottom of the pond for the winter.

In the fall you will notice that on those first cool, frosty nights that many plants will go untouched for the first frost. Some pond plants may even take a few frosts. The reason for this is that the pond water is warmer than the air temperature. The larger the pond, the more likely this is to be true. Larger, deeper ponds will take much longer to cool down than smaller, shallower ponds. The fog that develops over the water on those cool crisp mornings is a sure sign that winter is approaching. One thing to consider about the fall. Just like the trees, many pond plants have unique fall colors that can add interest to the pond. Experience over the years will show which plants are aglow with fall color.

For plants that are hardy for you, you may leave them in the pond until the top is damaged by frost. Once that happens, take a sharp pair of pruners and prune all the foliage off of the plant so that it is level with the top of the pot. You should be able to see the crown of the plant. The crown is the center where all stems emerge from the plant. Take care not to cut below the crown or the plant may die. Once all the foliage is removed it is just a matter of placing the pot on the bottom of the pond where the water is a few degrees warmer during the winter.

As mentioned above many will purchase plants knowing that they are not hardy and treat them as annuals. Water hyacinths and water lettuce are two classic examples. These plants are inexpensive and most will just buy new ones the next year. As soon as these plants are damaged by the frost it is best to toss them on the compost pile. If left in the pond once they are frost damage they just become more wastes for the filter to pick up and will contribute to build up of debris on the bottom of the pond. It is best to remove them before they become total mush and wreck havoc in the pond.
More expensive plants that are not hardy can usually be brought into the house for the winter. Keep in mind that most do not need to be submerged in water for the winter. In fact the only plants that will need to be submerged are the lily-like aquatics. Lily-like aquatics have to have water over them at all times. Examples are Poppies, Mosaic, water Hawthorne, Floating Heart. To over winter this type of plant you will need a deeper container. A 5-gallon bucket works great if you only have one or two of this type of plant. If you have a lot of lily-like aquatics, shop for a Rubbermaid container that will hold several pots. These plants like warmer water so you will want to keep them in a warmer room in the house in front of a sunny window. You may even be surprised with blooms during the winter months too if light is sufficient and the water is warm enough.

An aquarium heater will help keep the water warmer if the room is on the cool side.

This group includes Umbrella palms, Papyrus, Taro, Star grass, and Sweet Flag. And of course there are many more in this group so don’t be afraid to experiment. These plants make great houseplants. And best of all they do not need to be submerged. Simply place a large saucer under the pot and keep the saucers filled with water at all times. For best results place them in a sunny window.

If you have a large number of these plants that you would like to save, purchase a plastic kiddy pool or two. These can be set up in an out of the way place like a spare room or basement. You will also want to purchase a grow light or two and a timer. Set the timer so that it is on abut 12 to 14 hours a day. Keep a couple of inches of water in the kiddy pool at all times.

Lotus should have all the leaves and stems removed once the plant is damaged by frost.

The best way to over winter them is to put them on the bottom of the pond. It is a good idea once the foliage is removed to stretch a pair of old panty hose over the tub to keep the fish from digging in the pot during the winter if they become bored.

Some like to bring Lotus inside for the winter. They do need a cool above freezing spot in order to over winter successfully. Cold enough to go dormant but warm enough so that it will not freeze.

Remove the damage leaves and flower stems. And place them on the bottom of the pond. Hardy lilies are just that, if you can grow them in the summer where you live, they will winter over just fine in the bottom of the pond.
This one is a bit tricky. Tropical lilies are only hardy to zone 8 so unless your zone is 8 or greater, you will have to make other arrangements for them for the winter. Many in colder zones value the beauty of these lilies and just replace them every summer. If you are zone 8 or less all is not lost if you are willing to do a little work in the fall. Once the water starts to cool down these plants will decline because their ideal water temperature is 70* or better. I have however still had them in bloom in my pond in the fall with water temperatures in the low 60’s. Variety seems to make the difference in how long they will last in the cooler fall water. What I do is when the water is getting cooler, I remove the larger flower buds and bring them in the house and put them in a vase of water so I can get a few extra days enjoyment out of them. Most tropical lilies are very fragrant. Treat them as you would any other cut flower in a vase of water.

Bring the pot with the lily in the house and set it in a large Rubbermaid container in a cooler room in the house. Add a few inches of water to the Rubbermaid container. They do not have to be submerged but the soil must stay wet. Unless you keep your home real warm, they will go dormant.

Generally speaking fall is not a good time to divide. It is best to divide early in the spring just as the plant is breaking dormancy or just after it has broke dormancy. The reason for this is that most plants need warm water and sunlight for the roots to grow. For the most part we just don’t have those conditions in the winter home. Most plants will rot in cold water before the plant has a chance to grow new roots. Leave the dividing and transplanting until spring.
Insects love our dry winter homes, especially spider mites, aphids and white flies. Outside these are generally not problems because the predators will keep them in check. Or if they were a problem you probably had to spray them with an insecticide or other means to keep them under control. In the house they will be much more noticeable and can build up large populations before you realize they are there. It is a good idea to spray each plant with a forceful spray from a garden hose. Take extra care to spray the backsides where the little buggers can hide. If you do see insects it is probably a good idea to treat with an insecticide that you can purchase from your local garden center. I would suggest that you spray one leaf to test for sensitivity before you spray the whole plant.

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