well it's that time of the year

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

What do you do to ready your pond for winter?
I am particularly interested in preparing plants to over winter. Any tips?
I have some hibiscus that are just stuck in the rocks around the edge of the pond, and no pot or soil, just in the water, and are held in place by rocks. Will they survive that way?
I know the pond lilies have to be below the freezing line, I think I can manage that, hopefully. I have a jap iris too, it is potted and sitting in water about half way up the pot, same as my corkscrew grass plant. What now?
Too bad the freezing weather doesn't kill moles lol

Arlington, TX

Been a while since I lived in a climate that was cold, really cold in winter but I did spend most of my life in zone 5. Water lilies were never an issue, even if the pond froze over. My corkscrew rush got sunk to the deepest part of the pond, I think it was like 20 " deep. I think you need to remove the hibiscus and move them to a warmer local to over winter.

Perth,, ON(Zone 5a)

I bring in the fish and crayfish in the fall. I catch those I can when I'm feeding and bring them in a couple at a time. I've got a community tank in the family room with some fish in it already. I LOVE my fishies!

I'll bring in a couple of water hyacinths to float in the tank, and put the rest on the compost.

After the first frost has killed the leaves off the waterlillies, I bring them inside and just leave them in a dark cool/cold corner of the basement. There they dry out/go dormant over the winter.

My pond is shallow, only 2 feet deep with 6 inches above ground. In our climate, it freezes solid.

At some point in October, depending on the weather, I'll drain the pond completely, take out the rest of the fish, evict the frogs, scrub, vacuum, refill and cover the pond for the winter. I did not cover the pond last fall, and found a couple of frozen/dead frogs this spring, do not care to have that repeated :(

After the pond is put to bed for winter, it's time to take down the water barrels, they're disconnected, and stored in the greenhouse.

As for the moles, I've got a couple of really good mousers! LOL

Either CharlesKat or KillyTat will bring us dead rodents for our viewing pleasure, almost on a daily basis.

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

Oh, wow, so much here.
C- the hibiscus are the hardy type, not the tropical kind. They would overwinter with ease in the ground, I have just never tried overwintering them in straight water where they will be frozen. I guess I could bring them in and put them in the cellar. It stays damp and cold down there, but doesn't freeze. Do you think that would work, or should I just leave them where they are?

KillyTat? wow that is a tongue twister, I would be calling the cat who knows what LOL
My parents live next door and have a cat but he is worthless. More like a shag throw rug really...

I do have a crayfish in my pond, from where I have no idea, he is about 5 inches long now. Will he overwinter out there? The only thing I could put him in in the house would be a 10 gal tank, not sure if that is large enough for him, and they are master escape artists I found out. They are really neat to watch, although I have to admit they kind of give me the creeps... all those legs and all....

Do your water hyacinths live all winter in the tank? I have had several people say they die if they try to keep them? Maybe that was the water lettuce things? I have never had either, as I don't want to spend money on things that die in my zone.
I have never heard of anyone bringing in the pond lilies, would those be the tropical water lilies? I only have the hardy kind. I would love to have a lotus but just never ran across one, don't know a thing about them anyway! I would love to have more hardy plants all around the pond, but I find it difficult to grow them because the pond is just a liner, there is no soil or gravel. The soil outside of the pond of course stays very dry as the liner prevents any water from coming out there. So kind of awkward.

Athens, PA


I do not put my plants in the bottom of the pond each year. My plants are all planted directly into my shelves and my shelves are all filled with pea gravel. If your waterlilies are not tropical, they should be fine in the bottom of your pond.

If you are not comfortable with putting plants into the bottom of your pond and you are not sure if they are hardy in your zone, you could divide them and put half in the bottom of your pond and then try to winter over the other half in your cellar/home. Have you looked up your plants to see what zone they are hardy to?

I have the Japanese Iris, but mine are in the ground by the house. They came back and flowered this year. My husband planted them the year before. I also have the corkscrew plant and that did come back this past year, however, I had lost another - I started out with 2 and my understanding is they are difficult to bring through the winter, so you can either bring that one in, or try to winter it in the bottom of your pond. I have already decided I may lose mine - I also have a couple of arrowheads that have come back each year, water celery, water iris, acorus, pickerel weed and some zebra rush. I have the hardy hibiscus too. I don't know the name of mine, but I have had it for several years and my hibiscus gets treated the same way as the rest of these plants.

All my plants get cut back. Typically the waterlilies are cut back Octoberish. We lift the waterlilies at this time and vacuum out the pond and the waterlilies are cleaned up and put back into the pond. The remainder of the plants get cut back between Nov 1-the 8th or so and a tarp goes over the shelves where the plants grow. We use rocks to hold the tarps in place during the winter months. The pumps and uv lights come into the house when the water temps hit the mid 30's and the pond heaters then go into the pond at that point. This is generally between Thanksgiving and Christmas, however, each year is different, which is why we use the water temps as a gauge.

I do not have crayfish, however my fish stay in the pond all winter with the frogs.

I am not telling you this to confuse, and I know my methods fly in the face of most of the information that is out there. My point is, it can be as simple or as complex a process as you want it to be. Again, I would choose what plants you absolutely don't want to take any chances on losing and divide them bringing part in and leaving part out in the bottom of your pond. The remainder I would put into the bottom of your pond.

Thumbnail by Carolyn22
Perth,, ON(Zone 5a)

the water hyacinth do not overwinter, there's not enough light for them, but we enjoy them while they do last.

what I did learn about crayfish, is that they need more oxygen that the goldfish/bass.

The first night in the house last fall, the goldfish and a couple of crayfish were in a 5 gallon pail.... the crayfish both died. I had the baby bass and one other crayfish in the little aerated aquarium, and that crayfish did just fine.

I found that crayfish are also sensitive to water quality.....

I do hope I find all three crayfish still in the pond this fall!

KillyTat is a nickname for Matilda. MatildaKitty, LittleKitty, Tilly, TillyKat, or KillyTat when she brings down a rodent. She's quite the avid hunter. She loves to watch the aquarium.

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Winterizing is a straight forward process here. I begin by taking out the potted plants which will not survive in water over winter but are land hardy - Chamelon Plant (Houttuynia cordata) and Ribbon Grass 'Strawberries & Cream' ( Phalaris arundinacea). Those two are the easiest to over winter. Because they are planted in open weave lily baskets I just take them straight from the pond and plunge the pots in the ground for the winter. Next spring I pull up the pots, divide and repot if necessary. The Chamelon Plant doesnt always need repotting, just a trim. The Ribbon Grass typically needs to be divided. I throw away the water cannas and tropical lillies. I have had terrible luck at over wintering them so I just gave up trying. I've no place to keep them at the right temperature. The hardy lillies are cut back to the top of the pot after a few really hard frosts. They are left in 2' of water until spring for repotting. The Bog Bean (Menyanthes trifoliata) is just cut back to a few large shoots and left right in place. It can survive the roots being frozen hard.

I keep the pond pump, filters and waterfall running until day time temps start hovering around the low 40's. About three days before I decide it's time to pull the equipment I vacuum the pond bottom and do a partial water change. I test the water for nitrates and get that number to zero. Luckily for me that's not a big deal. This year they tested at 0 but I still did a 500 gal change in a 2750 gal pond. Not much of water change really.

I let the water circulate and aerate for at least two days. Then I pull all the equipment. Everything is inspected and scrubbed. Any replacement parts (the small goldfish pond pump impeller showed significant signs of wear, replacement UV bulbs go on the list too ) are noted to be ordered before spring start up. I make a list of pond chemicals that I depend on and determine which ones are in short supply. I'll winter internet shop for them to try to get good buys. One thing I'm a fanatic about is being fully ready for spring start up. I want everything I need at hand and in good condition.

The equipment sits and drys on the deck for a day and then gets packed in plastic totes, one for each of the two ponds. Then the pond deicers are put in. Each pond has one in the water and one backup ready to go just in case. They don't seem to last much more than three years. I put new batteries in the remote pond thermometers. No fun traipsing out in the snow to replace them, so I just do a preemptive strike. Finally, Its done. I check daily to remove any fallen leaves. This goes on around here until the water freezes over. I rake clean but my neighbors dont. A good wind will bring a new batch.

Things I DONT do anymore. I dont "salt up" or add any special winterizing bacteria or enzymes. After having taken several classes at our local community college ( in landscape management ) I learned that a healthy pond doesnt need any of that. The salt actually can interfere with fish metabolism in the winter, not in the good way as some people claim. It can also lower the water temperature. Bacteria keeps growing in pond water down to 40 degrees. If you havn't over scrubbed or done a complete water change a healthy pond will stay healthy without intervention. I've never had a fish winter loss. Knock on wood.

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