Pond Management Trainings Tuesday Evenings May 31st and June 7th

Pond Management Trainings Tuesday Evenings May 31st and June 7th

pondweeds 3Ponds can be a source of great enjoyment. However, properly managing them to meet your desired goals can be challenging. Panhandle Pond Management, a two part series being offered by UF/IFAS Extension, is designed to help pond owners/managers become more successful in reaching their goals. Specialists from campus will be onsite to share their expertise. Dr. Chuck Cichra, UF Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, will lead session 1 and Dr. Stephen Enloe, UF Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, will lead session 2.

Session 1 – May 31st Fish Management will focus on decisions that the pond owner can make that directly relate to the success and productivity of the fish population in a pond. Stocking, harvesting, feeding, aeration and other topics will be covered.

Session 2 – June 7th Aquatic Weed Management will involve weed identification, control options, and herbicide application techniques. If you have problem weeds bring samples for identification and control recommendations.

Panhandle Pond Management will be held at the Washington County Agricultural Center, 1424 Jackson Ave, Chipley FL. Each session will begin at 6:00pm; a meal will be served. To ensure we have enough food advanced registration is strongly encouraged. There is a $10 registration fee per session. To register call the Washington County Extension Office (850-638-6180) or use the links below for online registration. Session 2 attendees will receive a copy of Weed Control in Ponds a bound book sold through the IFAS bookstore.

Online Registration

Session 1 – https://goo.gl/Rwn9dk

Session 2 – https://goo.gl/zj58o6


Pond Mgmt Flyer current



Discover the Beauty and Role of Native Aquatic Plants – in Your Own Pond

A stand of purple wetland plants called "False Dragon Heads (Physostegia spp.). Photo by Judy Biss

A stand of purple flowers called “False Dragon-Heads (Physostegia spp.) growing along the St. Marks River. They are behind a stand of pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) that has not yet bloomed.  Photo by Judy Biss

This is the time of year when gardens burst forth with lush green growth and colorful flowers.  With a little planning and management, your backyard pond can also put on the same show each year and fight unwanted pond weeds at the same time!

Fish and farm ponds are abundant in the Florida panhandle.  Most are two acres or less and are used for producing catfish, bass, and bream; for recreation and wildlife viewing; for fishing and swimming; and for irrigation and livestock watering.  Ponds play an important role in various aspects of agricultural production and rural life, and for that reason, maintaining their ecological health is critical to their many uses.

Managing aquatic plants is one important component of pond ownership.  If you are a pond owner, you have probably seen and read many articles related to controlling and removing aquatic weeds.  Just as in terrestrial gardens, there are a number of non-native (and sometimes native) plants that can become quite weedy and problematic in and around your pond.  Hydrilla, water hyacinth, torpedograss, Chinese tallow, alligator weed, and the tiny water spangles (common Salvinia) are just a few examples that plague our waterways and shorelines.  But, controlling and removing weeds is only part of the bigger picture of pond management.  Planting native wetland plants is another ecologically important and aesthetically enriching management tool as well.

By establishing beds of healthy native plants, you are also fighting against weedy non-native invasive plants through competition for space.  Some other benefits of native aquatic plants are they act as a barrier, filtering fertilizers such as nitrogen and phosphorus from runoff, and they help control erosion.  Also, because native plants are adapted to our local environments, they are generally easy to grow, and most require little or no extra water or fertilizer.

Below are a few guidelines to follow if you are considering the use of native aquatic plants in your pond.

Know Your Plants:

Depending on the type, aquatic plants generally grow in three forms.  Emerged, like maidencane or bulrush, submerged like coontail and southern naiad, and floating, like the tiny free floating duckweed, and spatterdock and fragrant water lily which are rooted with floating leaves and flowers at the water’s surface. There are many good UF/IFAS publications and online resources for aquatic plant identification.  Some are listed at the end of this article.

Plan Ahead:

Some questions to ask are, what is the primary use of your pond?  Is it wildlife viewing, swimming, fishing, irrigation, etc.?  The answers to these questions will help you determine how much of your pond and shoreline will be planted, and what types of plants to use.  For example, if you use your pond for fishing and irrigation, you should leave some areas of the shore unplanted and mowed to allow for access, and you should not plant submerged plants that may clog irrigation intakes.  On the other hand, if your pond is primarily for attracting wildlife, you can plant most of the shoreline including some types of submerged aquatic plants.

Right Plant Right Place:

You may have heard this Florida Friendly Landscaping term before, as it holds true for any garden including aquatic gardens.  Choose plants that grow best in the water depth and planting “shelves” you have in and around your pond.  By “shelf” we are referring to the slope of your shoreline.  Is it a gradual, gentle slope into deeper water, or is it steep and abrupt?  Also, become familiar with seasonal changes in your pond’s water depth, as it may affect the plants you select.

Prepare For Maintenance:

Just like a vegetable garden, your newly planted aquatic plants (especially those that are emerged) will need attention in the first year or so of establishment.  Remove dead plants and weed out unwanted plants.

Where to Purchase the Plants:

For a list of Florida native plant suppliers, visit the Association of Florida Native Nurseries (AFNN) Please Note: collecting wild plants in Florida is subject to various regulations and may require permits!  Visit this website for details on wild collection – Florida Plant Collecting and Transport, Regulations and Permitting, University of Florida Herbarium

Here are some helpful resources used for this article with more detail on establishing aquatic plants around your pond:

Northwest Florida–Where the Plants Eat Meat!

Northwest Florida–Where the Plants Eat Meat!

Among the most fascinating natural phenomena in our area are the presence of dozens of species of carnivorous, or meat-eating, plants. Found in bogs, meadows, and seepage slopes with mucky, acidic soils and low levels of nutrients, these plants have adapted to their difficult conditions by developing ways to digest insects.These carnivores are best known by their common names; sundew, butterwort, bladderwort, and pitcher plants.

Sundew Plants

Sundew plants ready to feast


A meadow of white-topped pitcher plants in full spring bloom.

A meadow of white-topped pitcher plants in full spring bloom.

While there are six species of pitcher plants found in the panhandle and throughout the Gulf Coastal Plain, the “world’s largest concentration” can be found at Escambia County’s Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park. The “pitcher” part of the plant is actually a modified leaf, which is rounded into a hollow tube open at the top and partially covered by a hood. This hood is colorfully patterned, attracting insects also drawn to nectar inside the tubes. As insects crawl in, downward-facing hairs prevent them from escaping. They drown in the collected water within the tubes, then decompose via acids and enyzymes secreted by the plant into a “liquid fertilizer.” A handful of commensal animals, including flies, spiders, and small frogs, take advantage of the pitcher plants’ insect-trapping expertise and manage to avoid capture.

A guide to identifying all six of these pitcher plant species–white-top, parrot, trumpet-leaf, hooded, sweet, and yellow–can be found at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s wetland plant site. Now is the perfect time to see pitcher plants beginning to blossom.

While many people are familiar with pitcher plants, fewer notice the low-growing sundew. These plants may be smaller than a dime in circumference, and grow flat along very mucky soil in full sun. If shaded out even by relatively short grasses, sundew disappear. Their characteristic pinwheel-like appearance and deep red coloring help draw the eye if you look very closely. Sundews also excrete a sticky nectar, on which small insects get stuck and digested to provide nutrients to the plants.The leaves of butterwort plants work very similarly to sundews; they are typically bright green and succulent with sticky hairs that attract nutrients.

Bladderworts, also found in similar environments, use a different mechanism to trap insects. They actually have a bladder-like formation within their root system that opens and closes, siphoning water and unlucky insects in and out.

Regardless of their location, appearance, or method of trapping, carnivorous plants remain one of the most unusual, and interesting groups within the plant kingdom. Be sure to take the opportunity this spring to seek out a park or natural area populated with carnivorous plants–such as Tarkiln, Blackwater River State Park, or the public areas of Eglin Air Force Base and see them for yourself!