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5 Easy Bog Plants

Consider planting one of these five easy bog plants around your pond.

By Cassandra Radcliff

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Caladium bicolor

Caladium bicolor has many common names and many different color varieties. You can find this plant with varying amounts of green, pink and white on the heart-shaped leaves. Photo credit: Cassandra Radcliff

Supplement to “15 Beautiful Plants” by Cassandra Radcliff, Ponds USA & Water Gardens, 2013 annual magazine, Vol. 16.

Bog plants should not be planted in your pond but around your pond instead. These plants thrive in constantly moist but well-draining soil and in humid conditions caused by the water near the pond. Bog plants help break up the barrier between your pond and the rest of your backyard. Using bog plants to blend the pond into the rest of your garden is easy, provided you know how to care for your bog plants. In general, these are moisture-loving plants that need good soil that will hold moisture. These plants may need to be watered if they do not receive enough water from the pond. Some pondkeepers keep bog filter gardens, in which pond water is constantly pumped up to the bog and filtered down through the bog plants’ roots, which absorb excess pond nutrients. If you do keep a bog filter, you will not need to fertilize the bog plants. Here are five easy bog plants to consider for your pond.

1. Angel wings (Caladium bicolor). Caladium bicolor has many common names, including mother-in-law plant, angel wings and elephant’s ear. This bushy plant has colorful heart-shaped leaves on tall stems. Colors include green, pink and white, and the amount of each color can vary, depending on the variety and specimen that you purchase. Its bright colors will stand out in a mostly green garden.
Sun: Partial sun to full sun
Water: Needs evenly moist soil (but not never soggy)
Size: Can grow to 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Each leaf can be 6 to 12 inches long.
Hardiness: From Zones 9 to 11. These plants can be grown as annuals in cooler areas.
Fertilization: If given too much fertilizer, C. bicolor may not develop or keep its vibrant leaf colors.

2. Calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica). The calla lily, also called Easter lily, is an unmistakable plant that can be grown as a marginal or bog plant. It has large green leaves and sturdy solid white flowers (actually, they are spathes) that include a long yellow spadix (up to 3.5 inches). The calla lily’s dramatic and fragrant summer flowers also come in pink and yellow.
Sun: Full sun to partial shade
Water: Well-draining soil with constant moisture
Size: Up to 3 feet tall. Leaves grow to 1.5 feet long, and flowers can be 10 inches.
Hardiness: Zones 5 to 11. Overwinter calla lilies in colder climates by digging up the bulbs and storing them in a cool, dry place. You can also keep calla lilies as indoor plants during the winter.
Fertilization: Fertilize as you would with the rest of your plants during the calla lily’s growing and blooming seasons. If you notice brown or black leaf tips, it means you are fertilizing too much. These plants need a rest period after they flower, so let the plant die back and store nutrients in its bulb. Dig up and keep the bulb in a cool, dry place for several months during winter.

3. Mint (Mentha spp.). Many pondkeepers grow aquatic mint (Mentha aquatica), which can be grown as a marginal or in a bog. You can also grow other Mentha species in a bog environment and use the leaves for culinary purposes (the best of which has to be ice-cold spearmint tea). Mint should always be planted in pots (the pots can be buried, but you still need to watch out for runners). Mint plants are invasive and will quickly take over a garden. If you want instant success, mint is the way to go. It is an easy plant that will grow in quickly and surprise you with tiny purple flower clusters in the summer.
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Mentha aquatica can be grown in water up to 5 inches deep. On land, Mentha species should be provided with constantly moist soil.
Size: In water, aquatic mint will grow to 6 inches tall, while in a bog it can grow to 3 feet.
Hardiness: To Zone 6
Fertilization: You can fertilize terrestrial mint when fertilizing your other plants. Remember to correctly use fertilizers with aquatic plants. Fertilizers will promote algae blooms in the pond and may be dangerous to fish.

4. Hosta (Hosta spp.). Hosta species, also called day lilies, are amazingly diverse. There are so many varieties of hosta that you can find a size and leaf color type that pleases you. Leaves can be dark green to white, with every pattern or variegation imaginable. These plants grow in clumps and send up flower spikes, which will bloom with white or purple flowers. Hostas, unfortunately, attract deer, slugs and snails, so keep this in mind if you are considering using a hosta plant in your garden.
Sun: Part sun to full shade
Water: In nonsoggy, well-draining soil
Size: Up to 3 feet tall and 5 feet wide
Hardiness: Zones 3 to 8
Fertilization: Fertilize hostas with the rest of your bog plants on a monthly basis.

5. Ferns. Ferns are great plants to grow next to a pond because they need high humidity. There are many types of ferns, ranging from the giant Australian fern that can grow like a tree to short but bushy Boston ferns that do well in shady spots.
Sun: Partial sun
Water: Keep soil evenly moist. These plants will do well next to the spray of a waterfall.
Size: Size ranges, depending on the species.
Hardiness: Depends on the species
Fertilization: Ferns should be fertilized monthly with a slow-release fertilizer. Follow the same fertilization techniques that you do with other nonfussy garden plants.


Read the entire "15 Beautiful Plants" article.

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