These are four of my favorite floating aquatic plants that I use for my pond. The roots are submerged with all the leaves and stems generously floating over the surface, the flowers, if there are any, above the surface. They're widely available from all good garden centres.
Azolla (Fairy Moss)
This really is the most widely available of all Floaters, and the one that you can almost certainly be offered will be the Azolla caroliniana. It is a little fern with fronds which measure about 1/2 in. across. The dense mats of pale green leaves spread quite rapidly if left unchecked the entire surface of your pond can become covered, so only introduce this plant where the pond is sufficiently small so that you can take out excess growth using a net. In the summertime the fronds turn red and in the winter much of the growth is cut back by frost and ice. It can be recommended to overwinter a few of the fern in a jam jar filled with water and soil - reintroduce in April.
Eichornia (Water Hyacinth)
Eichornia crassipes is known as a menace to waterways in frost-free countries but it can be a vibrant Floater for outdoor ponds in Britain between June and September. The leaves are dark and shiny with swollen stems. The late summer flowers are extremely attractive- strong spikes bear Orchid-like blooms of blue, lavender and yellow. However, the catalogues sometimes forget to mention the flowers fail to appear in a very cool summer. Plant in June and take them indoors before the very first frosts.
Hydrocharis morsus-renae is a sensible choice for a tiny pond or even a mini-pond, growth is then restrained along with a succession of small and short-lived white flowers appear for the summer. In autumn the foliage starts to die away and so the plant survives on the bottom of the pond in the form of dormant buds. In early the summer season these rise to the surface and growth begins again. When Hydrocharis is not in flower it looks a good deal like a Water Lily. The green kidney shaped leaves measure 1 - 2in. across. Overwinter some buds in a jam jar with water and soil- put back into the pond in April.
Duckweed is in the catalogues, but do take care. You will see Lemna in stagnant ponds all over the place with a bright green blanket covering the surface. The usual pattern is a tiny leaf having a root below with a rapid rate of growth. Several types can be offered by your supplier and they will provide food for the fish as well as providing shade for the water surface. Additionally you can find L.gibba(thick duckweed) and L.polyrhiza (greater duckweed). Avoid them like they were the plague, really the only one to consider will be the much less invasive L. trisulca.
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