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Grow an Indoor Water Garden

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Water gardens and ponds aren’t just for people with outdoor spaces. You can create indoor water gardens on a smaller scale with all the same features as outdoor ponds. These unique features allow you to enjoy the serene sights and sounds of a water feature all year long! 

In an indoor water garden, you can use both semi-aquatic and aquatic houseplants. Semi-aquatic houseplants can adapt to having their roots in soil or water while keeping their leaves above the water. Aquatic plants live fully submerged in water full time, have most of their leaves in the water, and need a layer of gravel, rocks, or sand to help anchor their roots. There are a surprising number of common houseplants that can adapt to semi-aquatic life. 

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Houseplants for Your Water Garden

Semi-aquatic houseplants that are adaptable to growing in water include: 

  • Pothos  
  • Philodendrons 
  • Hoya 
  • Tradescantia 
  • Spider plants 
  • Arrowhead plants 
  • Calla lilies 
  • English ivy 
  • Peace lilies  
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There are a few indoor-friendly aquatic plants you can grow as well. Marimo moss balls are just one popular option. Other great indoor-friendly water plants include: 

  • Java fern 
  • Java moss
  • Amazon sword
  • Anarcharis 
  • Anubias
lilipad indoor water garden ted lare design & build

Floating plants are also a fun addition to cover a portion of the water surface if you have a wide bowl container. These include options like: 

  • Duckweed
  • Water lettuce
  • Water hyacinths

But, don’t just run off to the nearest pond and scoop up some duckweed. That’s a good way to get a lot of other unwanted things in your indoor water garden. Make sure to buy your aquatic plants from a reputable source. Pet stores, particularly aquarium and fish-focused ones, often carry a great selection of aquatic plants. 

All You Need to Grow Plants in Water Indoors

The most important thing you’ll need to start your indoor water garden is a water-tight container. Depending on your space, you could go with a taller glass container and use both aquatic plants and semi-aquatic plants for a beautiful underwater view as well as above water. 

If you have plenty of space, you could also go with a wide bowl for an indoor water garden, which would allow you to grow more beautiful floating plants on top of the water. 

Before you start putting your water garden together, fill up your containers with water and let it sit for 24 hours. This will bring the temperature up to ambient room temperature, and it will give the chlorine used in water treatment time to evaporate. You can cover the containers, but don’t seal them shut. Make sure to leave a gap for air exchange.

Next, you’ll need a substrate. Aquatic and semi-aquatic plants need very different growing mediums from most houseplants. Potting soil and even many soilless mixes will make a big powdery mess in a water garden. 

You can purchase specific substrates for water gardens. Usually, they’re fine pebbles or gravel that have been prewashed. If you’re using aquarium gravel, give it a quick rinse to remove any dust it may have accumulated. You can add your substrate to your water garden right away, or you can save it and add it as you add plants.

Most importantly, you’ll need plants. If you want to convert some of your houseplants to a semi-aquatic life, you may want to start with cuttings. Otherwise, you’ll need to spend some time washing all the soil out of the roots of your plants so it doesn’t get into your water garden. Starting plants from cuttings in water and keeping them in water is a less shocking transition for the plants than putting soil-potted plants into straight water. 

For semi-aquatic plants, you’ll need something to create a shelf in your water garden for your plants to sit on and a water planting basket. This will help keep the roots and gravel contained and anchored. You can use various things to create shelves for your plants to sit on, from bricks to rocks to old containers. Just make sure they’re washed well, and any soap is rinsed off thoroughly before you add them to your indoor aquatic garden.

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Creating Your Semi-Aquatic Houseplant Water Garden

Gather all your plants, substrate, and water together so you can start arranging and planting up your water garden. If you’re using a glass container, it’s usually easiest to add a substrate layer at the bottom and then fill it partway with water. Then, start to position your plants. 

Once you have things where you want them, you can fill the rest of the water. Just make sure to do it very slowly and gently, since the currents created when you’re pouring water in may dislodge or tangle your plants.

If you’re curious about starting an indoor water garden, visit our Iowa garden center today to get some more ideas and information.


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