Pond lilies are taking over the surface of my pond. What should I do?
It doesn’t seem like any pond is complete without lily pads floating on the surface. With their soothing green tones and multi-colored flowers which unfurl in the heat of summer, lily pads just seem to draw you in like the frogs that love them so much too.
Benefits of Lily Pads
Not only do lily pads look cool, they also help protect the critters that live in your pond. During the heat of the summer, the leaves of the lily pad stretch out in your pond, providing much-needed shade. That shade helps keep your pond cooler, which makes your koi fish very happy.
The shade of lily pads also keeps blooming algae at bay. Algae thrives on oxygen and sunlight. By getting rid of the sunlight part, lily pad leaves help cut off the ability for algae to overtake a pond. As most pond owners know, algae is something we all want to avoid. Many fish have been killed due to a lack of oxygen once algae overtake a pond. That’s why I like to have decent coverage of lily pads in my pond.
Lily pads seem to draw some interesting insects and other creatures, turning your pond into a veritable environmental retreat. Lily pads provide a place of safety for frogs. Not only that, but damselflies and dragonflies love the safety of lily pads. Those insects are vital for keeping mosquitoes – therefore, mosquito-borne illness – at bay. Pollinating beetles also make their home among the lily pads. You may even find a painted turtle making its home among the lily pads. They love to eat algae and dead creatures found in your pond.
On the underbelly of the lily pad, you may find snails. You may so see eggs left by female whirligig beetles and long-horned beetles. They attach their eggs to the underbelly of lily pads for protection against predators.
Drawbacks of Lily Pads
If it seems as though your lily pads are overrunning your pond, you are probably right. Plants like lily pads have a track record of growing quickly, so they may get out of control. That can cause overcrowding, stagnation, lack of oxygen, and dangerous conditions for your fish and other wildlife in your pond.
They also may “compete” with other plant life in your pond and overtake them. They could choke out other water plants that are just as pleasing to the eye or as healthy to the life of the pond.
At night, your pond can face distress as well. Instead of breathing carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen as it does in the day, plants tend to breathe in oxygen and emit carbon dioxide. With too many lily pads – or a pond overcrowded with pond plants – that can cause a serious issue for your fish and other wildlife residing in your pond.
So, what do you do?
Lily Pad Maintenance
To help save the lives of your fish from an overgrowth of lily pads, you will have to thin them out. You will want to thin out the lily pads in your pond to provide 50%-60% coverage in your pond. Put on some work clothes, rubber gloves and expect to get wet and/or a little bit muddy.
If you have your lily pads in pots, that will be the easiest – and cleanest – way to thin out your plant life. All you need to do is pull up the pots that you wish to get rid of to thin out your pond and leave the rest alone. If you wish to be environmentally conscious, you can peer at the underbelly of the leaves of the lily pads and take those pots with no eggs or snails attached to them.
If the lily pads are not in pots, then you will need to take a little more time thinning them out by hand. You will need a sharp set of snippers. When you thin out the lily pads, snip as closely as possible to the main shoot, as far under the water as you can. Thin them out by about a third per plant, making sure to leave healthy leaves on the plant, and snipping off yellowish leaves.
Your efforts should be rewarded with healthier blooms bursting forth from your lily pad flowers. The overall health of your pond will be appreciated, as well.
All of this excitement in your pond may cause a few issues that are easily remedied. When you thin out your pond, you may find it’s become cloudy. Good news – that’s an easy fix. Just use a water clarifier like OASE AquaActiv Water Clarifier or Pond Care’s AccuClear as this will clump up any free-floating materials, and get your pond looking as fresh as ever.
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