If a pond is to be a successful habitat it must have native plants growing in it. They provide food, oxygen and shelter for the animals. Green plants need sunlight to make their food (photosynthesis) so a pond in the open will be more successful than one in the shade. The smallest plants in a pond are the microscopic phytoplankton and these provide most of the food in a pond. The phytoplankton and larger algae form the first part of the pond’s food chains. Plant-eating animals – the herbivores – eat the plants and the herbivores are eaten by carnivores (meat eating animals).
Pond vegetation grows in areas called zones. Plants such as great willowherb and meadowsweet grow in the bankside zone: they like damp places but are not true water plants. The emergent plants grow nearest to the pond edge in the marsh zone e.g. yellow iris and mud-sedge. These fringing plants provide good hiding places for some pond animals such as young frogs, and the tall stems are used by dragonfly nymphs when they climb out of the water before emerging as an adult.
In the aquatic zone live the truly aquatic plants. Some of them float on the surface with tiny roots dangling in the water e.g. duckweed and frogbit. Others have their roots buried in the mud at the bottom of the pond and their leaves float on the surface e.g. water-lilies and crowfoot.
Then there are fully submerged plants such as starwort and spiked water milfoi. These produce most of the oxygen so it is important that they receive plenty of sunlight (oxygen is produced during photosynthesis). If the plants on the surface are completely covering the pond then some of them should be pulled out or the submerged plants will suffer.
Some species of pond plants, such as the water-violet, are becoming very rare indeed.Read More: Life in a Pond