tomatoes growing on floating islands

What can grow on a floating island?

When we began work on floating islands, we were uncertain what plants would grow on them.  We felt confident that conventional riparian plants would do well, since they normally occur in such settings.  So we began with emergent and facultative wetland plants and were not surprised to learn that, given certain conditions, they all showed early signs of success.  As we progressed, we discovered our islands were full of surprises.  It is these surprises that keep inventors agile.  For instance, it became very apparent that, in many cases, our preferred island embodiment epitomized a super enhanced plant habitat.  Plants grew remarkably well.  In fact, compared to the same vegetation planted at the same time along a pond shoreline, we saw growth differentials of about 50 percent.  Our island-based plants were that much bigger and healthier than their relatives along a shoreline.  Why?

A message from the inventor…

Maybe plants on an island had limited competition. Maybe they always had the same, optimal access to water, while shoreline plants sometimes had too much or too little.  Maybe plants on an island fully enjoyed the pond or waterway’s thermal heat sink, while shoreline plants only partially benefited, since they were not actually surrounded by water like their relatives on the islands.


We also learned that plants along the shoreline would frequently “volunteer” on our islands, an advantage or disadvantage, depending on the desirability of the plant. We were also pleasantly surprised to learn that our islands could freeze solid in the winter and still be full of vibrant new growth the following spring.

We discovered that our islands represent a form of hydroponics and that nearly all plants can be grown hydroponically, even cacti!


To our advantage, unlike conventional hydroponics farming, our island plant cultures are not particularly pH sensitive. On our research farm ponds in Shepherd, Montana, the pH differential is significant, and we have experienced a wide range of plant success. Further, based on the plant diversity associated with naturally occurring floating islands located in upper Michigan and northern Wisconsin, pH levels experience even greater differentials. Despite that, plant diversity on these islands is spectacular.

Bruce Kania - the inventor

All else being equal, if we plant native species, it is extremely likely that those plants will prosper in our floating island setting.

minifloating island with roots that will uptake excess nutrients in a green pond with excess algae
koi pond and healthy koi swimming under a floating island where roots hold microbes and oxygen bubbles

With all that in mind…

It is important to know that BioHaven Floating Islands do require certain conditions:

  • interstitial spacing provided by the bedding matrix
  • aeration of root systems
  • water movement through and around the islands


These are the conditions that we design into our islands.  You, on the other hand, simply enjoy your island. You get to watch everything happen – the growth and expansion of your selected plants, the gravitation of fish and other riparian life to this wonderful new habitat, and the visible improvement in the health and beauty of your pond or waterway.


You may even enjoy harvesting delicious, even exotic, edible plants like wild ginger, saxifrage, raspberries, or the more common watercress that can occur on the islands.

Turn your imagination loose when it comes to selecting what you would like to grow on your BioHaven® Floating Island!


Bruce Kania

Inventor of BioHaven® Floating Islands

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