Fall Plant Prep

Fall Plant Prep

Depending on where you live, the seasonal change from summer to fall is apparent by the beautiful, multi-colored leaves and the dip toward cooler temperatures. How will that chill you feel in the air affect the plants in your aquatic paradise? 

Hardy Marginals

As with terrestrial perennial plants, dropping temperatures warn your hardy aquatic plants to prepare for their winter dormancy. You should stop fertilizing them as you see leaves begin to yellow and brown. You can leave these plants where they are in your pond to weather the cold of winter, BUT be sure to trim the dying foliage of your marginal plants down to 2-3 inches above the water level.

Tropical Marginals

In colder climates, water gardeners will need to treat these plants as they would any other garden by replacing them each season. A fun alternative to this is to treat them as tropical houseplants and bring them inside for the winter! Most tropical marginals will do well potted in heavy garden soil in a sealed clay pot with no drainage holes. When kept wet, the plants do well in a sunny window or sunroom. 

Water Lilies

Water lilies will also begin to show their dislike for the cold with yellowing leaves and fewer flowers. When this happens, the leaf and flower stems of hardy water lilies should be cut to 2- 3 inches above the base of the plant. 

In areas where freezing is likely, plants should be overwintered indoors. This can be a difficult task, however, and many gardeners choose to simply buy a new plant each season.


As with the marginals in your pond, the foliage of your lotus plants will need to be trimmed back after they have died and turned brown. It’s important not to cut the leaves while they are still green because the freshly cut, hollow stems are susceptible to disease, which can spread to the plant’s tuber and possibly kill the plant! Lotus tubers will not withstand freezing, so any plants that are growing in the shallow areas of your pond should be moved to the bottom, away from freezing water.


Caring for your aquatic plants in the fall will mean less work and healthier plants come spring! If you live where it gets cold in the winter, consider using some of your tropical aquatics in your indoor water gardens!
And, if you choose to utilize Garden State Koi’s fall shut down service, we will take care of all this work for you! Learn more about our fall service here.

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