Why are my pond plants dying?

Why are my pond plants dying?

Pond plants can really enhance the look of any pond. 

They provide tons of benefits in terms of water quality and creating a more complete ecosystem.

They can also be expensive!

So when they die you want to know why?

Just like plants in a regular garden there are many factors that will influence wether or not a pond plant will thrive or barely survive.


Climate is something you should look at first and foremost. Not all pond plants can be grown in all climates.

When you head down to the local garden centre and buy some pond plants in spring they may only be intended to last one season.

Many garden centres will bring in plants from warmer areas to be sold. They will thrive during the warmer months but quickly die off once the weather turns.

There’s a reason the garden centres sell tropical plants in cool climates. They grow fast and therefore absorb plenty of nutrients in the pond. They look great and provide an exotic feel.

But if you buy these plants don’t be surprised when they die off. 

If you really want, you could overwinter them indoors. Otherwise just accept that you will need to re-buy them every season.

Now if you want perennial (come back year after year) plants, ensure what you are buying is suitable for your climate.

Even some perennials will die off especially if you have a harsh winter, but at least they will return in the spring.

What i like to do is see what is growing year round in local ponds, creeks and rivers. 

You can also join a local pond group make some friends and swap plants.

Sun/ shade

A lot of pond plants will tolerate full sun and part shade. 

But some pond plants are a lot more picky.

Do your research.

Sometimes it can be as simple as putting the plant in the position it wants to be in. 

For example I like to add Hostas and Impatiens to my ponds. But these can only be placed in shaded areas.

If I plant them in a position in full sun the foliage will just wither and die.

To get best results from a water lily you want 6 hours of sun. In the shade you will hardly ever see a flower, unless you fertilise heavily.


Aquatic plants are a varied bunch and have differing requirements when it comes to depth. 

Some want to be completely submerged, others float on the surface, some need their roots in water but their foliage dry.

So make sure your plants are planted in the correct depth of water.

Most garden centres selling aquatic plants will have a tag telling you the depth or zone of the pond the plant should be placed in.

It’s very common for marginal pond plants to fail if to much of the foliage is submerged.

Even submerged plants will have certain depth they prefer. Some will need to be closer to the surface. Others may prefer cooler, shaded water.

Water splash

A lot of us like to add waterfalls or fountains to our ponds. These look and sound great.

Waterfalls and fountains also reintroduce oxygen into the pond.

But some pond plants hate all this movement and splashing.

Pond plants come from all types of aquatic environments. From fast moving streams to stagnant bogs.

A plant like a water lily that thrives in water that is hardly moving all this splashing and movement will send the leaves yellow.

I encourage everyone to add all types of different plants to their pond.

Just make sure that plants that like slow moving water are in a suitable position.

Fish or other pests are eating them 

Fish will eat some pond plants.

It’s natural.

Koi are notorious for trashing people’s water lilies, yet other people don’t have a problem.

If fish are trashing your water plants create a bog filter. They are the best!

You can read my article all about bog filters here.

Snails can also be a issue. 

Rinse any plants you add to your pond. I learnt that the hard way. I have many a pond with a snail problem.

Aphids can also be a problem on occasion. I personally never spray them though it’s not worth the risk.

I take great delight flicking them into the water and watching the fish eat them!

Lack of nutrients 

This is very rarely a problem. If the pond had fish their should be enough nutrients. 

If there is algae.. there is definitely enough nutrients.

Lack of nutrients will hardly ever kill a plant just stunt it.

If the pond is new just be patient as the ecosystem establishes the plants will start to thrive.

You could add fertiliser tabs but save your money and be patient.

Variety is the spice of life

Don’t keep persevering with plants that die!

If you killed it 3 times don’t try a fourth!

There are tons of awesome pond plants, I even wrote an article to give you some ideas.

Move on to something new, you’ll find the perfect pond plant combo that works for your ponds climate, position and depth.

All gardening is trial and error. Gardening in the pond is no different. 

I hope this has been helpful.

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Thanks for reading.


G'day, I'm Kev. My pond and water garden started with simple aquariums. I have created many ponds and water gardens around our home: Fish ponds, Aquaponic systems, grey-water wetlands and bog filters. My favourite topic is water filtration.

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