Closing Your Pond for the Fall

Getting your water garden ready for winter..Brrrrr!!...

Hardy plant care...

Most hardy bog plants can be trimmed to about 3-6" after October 15th and placed in the deep section of the garden. Aquatic grasses, reeds, cattails, rushes and similar grass-like plants should be only trimmed back to about 18" and remain in shallow water (1-6" of water above pot) so that their stems rise above the surface of the water. These plants "breathe" through their stems in the winter. Water iris should not be moved to deep water since they can suffocate in water more than a couple inches above the pot.

Oxygenators and lilies can stay in the deep section (18-36") of the pond they normally grow in through the summer. As long as they are below ice level (maximum ice depth is 8-10" in Ohio), they should over-winter fine. Trim all remaining leaves and stems off your lilies after the first couple freezes to prevent them from fouling the water as they are shed. (Ask for our handout, Seasonal Care of Water Plants for more detailed information about specific varieties.)

Tropical plant care...

If you have tropical plants you can bring them indoors as houseplants over the winter or discard and replace them next spring. Most will do well in a pan with water near a bright window. Umbrella palms do especially well indoors over winter. Tropical water lilies and floating plants are a challenge to over-winter and are generally replaced each year unless you have access to a greenhouse that stays 65-75 degrees year-round. Ask for our handout: "Over-wintering tropical lilies" for other tips. Any tropical plants you wish to save should be moved to a warm location before the first frost.

Floating plants killed by frost should be immediately removed so that they do not add to the plant debris in your water garden. Tropical plants should not be placed back into the garden in the spring until water temperature reaches 65-70 degrees (usually late May).

Fall fish care...

If you have been feeding your fish regularly continue doing so into the fall as long as they continue to eat the food quickly within a few minutes. Once water temperatures fall below 60 degrees, it is best to switch to a wheat-germ based food that is easier to digest.

If you have not been feeding your fish earlier in the season it is suggested that you feed your fish a wheat germ based food (we recommend Green Vista Spring/Fall food or Sho Koi fish food) the last few weeks of the fall to help them build some additional fat reserves before the winter. In addition, Sho Koi also has the added benefit of a patented immune system enhancing supplement that strengthens your fish before winter. A medicated food for parasite or bacterial infections is another good preventative step that may be useful if you have had recent problems with your fish.

In any case, all feeding of the fish should stop after the water temp falls below 50 degrees- usually about November 1. Even during warm spells, do not feed your fish over the winter months since their metabolism will have slowed enough not to properly digest the food even though they may seem hungry!

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