How to Overwinter Tropical Aquatic Plants

How to Keep Your Investment

Tropical water garden plants are awesome. They provide large foliage and blooms, vivid colors, and love the summer heat. But they are also extremely beneficial to your pond. In early August, hardy plants begin storing energy producing fewer blooms and therefore consuming fewer nutrients from the pond water. Tropical plants on the other hand continue to grow and bloom eating up all the nutrients they can get, helping keep pond water clear and clean.

Even with the benefits, some people are reluctant to purchase tropical aquatic plants because they don't want to purchase them every year... Here's the good news -- you don't have to! Just over-winter them! Most tropical marginals will over-winter inside easily as house plants.

Please note: This article pertains only to marginal plants -- plants that have their foliage and blooms above the water and their root systems below the water. It is only possible to overwinter floating plants with a green house because they need extreme humidity to live. Tropical water lilies can be overwintered, but not easily.

We successfully keep tropical marginal plants indoors every winter, not because we have to , but when you see such a beautiful, large plant that is doing so well, it's hard to let it die. Basically to over winter tropical marginals, treat them like house plants.

When Should They Be Brought in?

It's best to bring your plants inside before the first frost. Sometimes they'll make it through a light frost, but better safe than sorry. Keep an eye on the weather. In central Indiana our first frost usually comes around mid October.

Trim back any dead foliage before bringing the plant inside. We usually recommend keeping your tropical plants in their containers in the pond to make them easier to bring in for winter.


It's not necessary to keep your plants completely submerged, but they need to stay damp. Place them in a pot with no holes and add water.  As the water evaporates, you can fill it again.  Choose a decorative container so that your plants can look nice inside as well.

Misting the plants periodically with a small sprayer is a good idea. Our homes are usually dry in the winter and the plants can benefit from some extra "precipitation."

Light Requirements

Again, treat these plants like houseplants.  A southern window is excellent. It's not uncommon for plants to stretch to the light or become a little leggy and thin. It's a good idea to rotate the pot and keep the plant trimmed down somewhat.


Don't fertilize plants while they're "wintering." Your goal is to keep the plant alive, not make it thrive.

In late February or March you can begin using a diluted liquid fertilizer if you wish. (Unless your kitties like drinking the water from the pots like ours do!) We usually wait until we put our plants back outside to begin fertilizing again.

Taking Plants Back Outside

The key to taking your plants back outside is not shocking them. Placing them outside again while its still cool or back in the full sun after being inside all winter can cause them to be shocked. Gradually move them back into the sun and wait until temperatures during the day are close to the temperature inside your home. It's a good idea to re-pot them and add some year-long fertilizer when they go back outside.

Tropical plants provide much beauty and benefits to your pond. We have a great selection of both tropical and hardy plants April - August. Try some and you'll be hooked.


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