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Aquatic plants are used to enhance
the beauty of lakes and ponds as well as provide habitat for other
forms of aquatic life. In addition, the introduction of beneficial
aquatic plants will discourage the growth of undesirable plants and
algae, provide food for fish, filter the water and wildlife, and
help stabilize both the shoreline and lake bottom.
At ABI, we recognize two general
categories of aquatic plants. Shoreline plants, can be used for
preventing erosion as well as providing beauty and wildlife
habitat. Submerged plants provide habitat for fish, wildlife and
other organisms, but predominantly are used to discourage the
growth of undesirable species of aquatic plants and algae. Both
categories are used to help assimilate nutrients which are very
beneficial to lakes and ponds.
Aquatic plants are usually
introduced during the spring. ABI has a wide selection to chose
from. ABI does not ship live aquatic plants outside of Wisconsin
and its surrounding states with the exception of goverment entities
which play a role in environmental protection.
Arrow Arum is a perennial that grows in clumps, in
moist soils and shallow water. It produces small berry sized
kernals that are nutritional for ducks. Arrow Arum flowers from
May-July and grows 1' to 2' high.
known as duck potato, grow two to three feet tall, depending on the
amount of nutrients available. This is an excellent ornamental
plant that provides good shoreline erosion protection, as well as
being an excellent food source for deer, waterfowl, other birds,
We use this plant for shoreline protection but also for
filtering water with high amounts of nutrients. It is one of the
best plants for this purpose because of its sturdy nature and its
ability to utilize both phosphorus and potash from the water.
This plant is very hardy and will grow well in most any inland
waters except for those which are very alkaline or are high in
salts. It does best in a fairly rich soil on damp lowlands,
mudflats, or in water up to 1 ½ feet in depth. Arrowheads tolerate
drought and fluctuating water levels.
Arrowheads propagate largely by tubers which may be planted in
spring, summer, or later as long as there are at least 120 days of
frost free growing weather. It makes permanent patches by
reproducing year after year.
The tubers of the arrowhead (duck potato) are easily planted.
Place each tuber about a foot apart and about 1 to 2 inches deep
into the bottom sediment.
Water Arum produces a white flower with glossy, oblong,
heart-shaped green leaves. In late summer into the fall it produces
a cluster of red berries. Plant prefers cool, boggy wetland and
pond edges. Stems creep or float and the height at maturity is
12"-18". Plant in full shade.
Blazing Star creates a tall striking focal point by lakes and
ponds. Native to damp prairies, Marsh Blazing Star has stiff stems
clothed in fine leaves with elegant spikes of dense lavender flower
heads in mid-summer. Grows approximately 3 - 4 feet in height.
Blue Lobelia produces spikes of blue flowers in late summer -
fall, attracting hummingbirds to your shoreline. Unlike most other
wildflowers, Blue Lobelia does well in shade. Grows up to 2 - 3
Deep blue flower spikes grace Blue Vervain from July - September
attracting a variety of butterflies. Plant Blue Vervain along the
sides of streams, pond edges and in other damp soils for a burst of
blue in late summer. The tiny seeds grow easily in open, rich soil.
Grows 3 - 6 feet tall in full sun.
Boneset is a member of the sunflower family (Asteracea) and is
native to the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. and Canada. The
flowers are grayish-white and bloom mid-August through
Rushes grow best along shore lines with firmer sediments like
clay, sand, or gravel. Spike rush grow best in shallow water, just
off shore. Bulrush will grow in water up to 3 feet deep. Rushes
extend above the water from 1 to 8 feet depending on the variety.
They consist of mainly thin, stiff stems rising from a dense root
cluster, and have small seed nodules either along the stem or at
The dense roots of rushes provide excellent shoreline
stabilization. The plants as a whole are durable, attractive, and
provide good shallow water cover for waterfowl, birds and fish.
Rushes are planted using root stock which are embedded in
desirable areas and allowed to grow into dense stands.
Bur-reeds are distinguished
by their gracful grass-like leaves, zigzag flower stems, and round,
spiny seed heads arranged like beads on a string. The long slender
stems resemble cat-tails, but are not as tall. This attractive
shallow water plant grows from tubers which are planted in spring
or summer. It is used to stabilize shorelines and acts as a natural
filter to water entering a pond or lake. Bur-reed grows 3 to 4 feet
tall and provides habitat for birds and animals.
Chara is typically found in clear, hard water. Lacking true
stems and leaves, chara is actually an algae. Unlike rooted plants,
chara receives its nutrients from the water column. this makes it
an idea competitor for available nutrients that undesirable algae
require. Once established, chara can help to reduce turbidity that
is caused by suspended particles and planktonic algae. Chara is
sold by the bushrel and is planted by simply throwing it in the
water. It will grow in any part of the pond that receives
Coontail receives its name from the bushy ends that resemble a
racoon's tail. Like chara it does not have true roots. It's a good
plant for reducing problematic algae as it takes in phosphorus from
the water. Coontail is a great addition to a pond or lake, but
needs to be managed so it does not become excessive.
Joe Pye Weed is crowned with clusters of pink flowers in late
summer. The whorls of textured foliage add beauty to any setting.
Bumblebees are fond of roosting on the flowers on cool September
nights. Grows up to 6 feet tall in full sun.
Large-leaved Pondweed is a submerged
plant consisting of a thick, durable stem with oblong leaves up to
8 inches long. It grows in clear water up to 20 feet deep, but most
often is found in depths of 3 to 12 feet. In late summer the plant
will rise to the surface and grows a short seed spike several
inches above the surface. This plant provides excellent habitat for
fish which feed off of insects found among its leaves. It also
provides excellent cover when planted in deeper areas near drop
Marsh Marigold is one of our earliest spring blooming
wildflowers. This species, with its heart-shaped, rounded and
slightly toothed leaves, offers bees one of their first nectar
sources each year. Blooming when night-time temperatures can drop
below freezing. This plant grows in shade to full sun, reaching up
to 2 feet in height.
Marsh Milkweed is a favorite host plant for the monarch
butterfly caterpillar. Attractive, rounded clusters of delicately
scented pink flowers grow from smooth-stemmed branches. Marsh
Milkweed plants grow quickly, typically blooming June through
August. Grows to 5 feet tall.
Marsh Phlox This rare beauty is unveiled with its deep reddish
purple flowers in early summer. Marsh Phlox grows 2 - 4 feet tall
in full to partial sun.
Monkeyflower is a member of the snapdragon family. This plant is
covered with blue flowers in late summer - early fall. This is one
of the few plants that grows 6 inches - 3 feet tall.
Obedient Plant is a showy member of the mint family, possessing
masses of bright pink flowers in late summer - early fall. Makes an
excellent ground cover. Grows 1 - 2 feet tall.
The Pickerel Plant is excellent for fish and waterfowl cover and
as a food source. Large arrowhead leaves are dark green and glossy
with purple flowers grown on tall spikes. Mature plants grow up to
4". Very ornamental. Can plant in 1 to 12" of water. They do well
in partial shade. Seeds are eaten by waterfowl.
Porcupine Sedge This short sedge provides food for many species
of wetland birds and adds a touch of greenery to a moist area or
wet meadow. Blooms June - August. Grows 1- 3 feet tall in full
Water Smartweed has dark green, shiny, leathery leaves which
grow on alternating sides of the stalk. The pink flower stalk with
a cluster of flowers blooms between July - September. Water
smartweed aids in preventing erosion while providing a food base
for puddle ducks. Grows 6 inches tall. For optimum growth plant in
one foot of water or less.
Both the blue and yellow Water Iris have very ornamental
seasonal flowers and are used for shoreline borders on ponds,
lakes, and streams. Water iris are used for beautification but have
the added benefit of providing excellent shorline soil
stabilization and wave buffer zones for erosion protection. Water
Iris also provide habitat for waterfowl, birds, and animals.
Water Iris prefer wet marshy areas, but does well on most bank
areas as long as there is sufficient water. Plants are able to
withstand short periods of drought. Both iris and sweet flag grow
with part of their corm, or heavy root stock, uncovered - the same
as garden iris. Water iris should be planted during cool periods
Yellow Water Lilies have thick tubers which sprout leaves and
ornamental flowers that float to the surface on narrow stems. Both
types grow best in shallow, sheltered areas of 1 to 4 feet of
water, with soft sediment bottoms. The white lily prefers shallower
waters than the yellow. Water lilies are planted as habitat areas
for fish which are attracted to the cover and the insects the
plants provide. They are also very ornamental and grow a large
white or yellow flower which can make shallow open water more
Wild celery is a
predominantly submerged plant which grows narrow succulent leaves
from 1 to 7 feet in length. Toward the end of summer the leaves
emerge and lay flat on the surface. The plant can be identified at
this time by the spring-like stem holding the submerged seed head.
Wild celery grows best in shallow open water areas with full
sunlight where it can take root in soft bottom sediment. Wild
celery provides an excellent source of food for waterfowl and fish.
Both will feed on the aquatic insects attracted to its leaves.
Waterfowl will feed on all parts of the plant. Additionally, wild
celery provides excellent cover for fish.
Planting is done is two ways. The seeds are used in spring and
fall when available, or weighted tubers can be broadcast onto
potential beds during summer months. Both methods will provide good
growth by the following fall if waterfowl can be discouraged from
eating new plants. On its own, wild celery roots reproduce by
runners, creating the larger beds most suitable for fish cover.
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