When you are planning your garden pond one of the questions to think about is what plants should you include. However, it’s also important to turn that around and look at the plants you really need to avoid, in order to keep your pond healthy.
If you are moving into a property with an established pond, then you won’t have much choice about the plant life, however, you do need to check to see if you have any nasty invasive plants growing in there as you will need to clear them out carefully. You may even want to invest in some pond plant accessories and start from scratch.
There are five types of aquatic pond plants which you really must avoid – they have actually been banned from sale in England but if you are being given plants from other people’s ponds, or you have an established pond, make sure these five are not among them:
- Water fern (Azolla filiculoides)
- Floating water primrose (Ludwigia grandiflora, Ludwigia uruguayensis and Ludwigia peploides)
- Parrots feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)
- Floating pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides)
- Australian swamp stone-crop (Crassula helmsii)
If any shop does try to sell you any of these plants then you must report them to the police as all of these plants were banned from sale in England in 2014. They cause environmental damage and are incredibly invasive, taking over the pond very quickly so need to be avoided at all costs.
If any of these plants are already in your pond, then you need to clear them out and do not dump them – make sure you compost them to get rid of them rather than risk them spreading somewhere out in the wild. Dumping them in a natural waterway is an illegal act.
The DEFRA Be Plant Wise Campaign
The Department of the Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has a campaign called Be Plant Wise, which is aimed at preventing the spread of invasive and non-native pond plants in the country.
The campaign was launched by TV garden show presenter Charlie Dimmock to raise awareness of the problem of some of these plants which can quickly take over your pond – it then led to the banning of the five species named above.
The campaign advised pond owners to know what they grow and named the five now banned plants, as ones to avoid. The reason these particular plants cause so many problems is because they grow into a dense mat which covers the surface of the water. It then blocks out the light and can also block the flow of natural water.
The campaign also advised against dumping unwanted aquatic plants into the wild as they could then grow and spread into the natural environment, causing no end of problems. It advised pond owners to compost all pond plants carefully and responsibly.
Thirdly, the campaign advised caution when moving pond plants around or disposing of waste water from a pond as even tiny elements of one of these five plants can cause major problems. You must never dispose of pond plants in natural water.
Other Plants To Avoid In Your Pond
Since the campaign and the ban of the five key plants in 2014, several more plants were banned in the UK in 2017 under European regulations. With these ones, you cannot buy them any longer, and if you have them in your pond you need to keep them under control and compost them carefully.
The latest aquatic plants to be banned are: Eichornia crassipes, Elodea crispa (Water Hyacinths) and Lysichiton americanus (Skunk cabbage).
There are other species which are not banned but should be avoided because of the problems they can cause and how quickly they take over your pond, which are: Curly water weed (Lagarosiphon major), Water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes), Canadian pond weed (Elodea canadensis), Nuttall’s pond weed (Elodea nuttallii),
It is important to avoid introducing any non-native species into the countryside so never plant your pond plants into natural rivers, ponds or lakes, and always compost plant material which you take out of your pond.
These invasive plants can quickly take over and kill our native plant species by blocking out the light and taking over the waterway, causing extensive damage and requiring very costly and time-consuming clean-ups in all cases.
When you are planning a new pond, always buy your plants from reputable home and garden shops and double-check they are not selling any of the banned varieties. Don’t take plants from other people’s ponds generally as you don’t know what might be lurking in their water.
It’s not advisable to move plants from pond to pond, as if there are any elements of invasive species in there, they could come loose and end up in the wild again. However, there are many amazing pond plants to choose from which are native to the UK and don’t cause issues so have fun making your choices.