Pet World Visit
New pond plants just starting out.
New Plants. Most pond plants start out in very tiny pots. They will not stand up unless you re-pot them. You can leave them in their starter pots, but you need a much larger pot to hold your plant upright, anchor it in one place, and keep it from blowing over. A three-inch pot will not suffice. Think in terms of six inches or larger. Something the size of a half-gallon ice cream container will work -- the bigger the better. We’ve used different planting media -- soil, sand, gravel and others. They all worked just fine. We like the pots just sitting in an inch or two of water as opposed to being totally submerged. If you submerge your plants, do it gradually or they drown. And put large gravel atop your planting media. Then stand back and watch them grow. New pond keepers are always amazed at the growth rate of pond plants.
Starter Pots? Rather than snip these tiny plastic starter pots into pieces and tear up your plant roots, just stick the whole thing in your larger pot. Growing plants expand and break out of this plastic “cage” rapidly.
No Tipping. Tall pond plants on the edge of your pond can make a real mess on windy days. Tipped pots invariably spill your planting media and make some excellent mud for your koi and goldfish to stir up. The larger and heavier your pot, the less chance of it tipping over.
Water Lettuce. No potting needed here. A floating plant similar to the water hyacinth, water lettuce spreads nearly as rapidly. Water lettuce never blooms. Koi will tear it apart. It reproduces vegetatively -- the mother plant grows daughters that increase in size and eventually break off and run away from home. Pull off any yellow or broken leaves on your starter plants. They will not repair themselves. Water lettuce makes a good shade plant for sunny ponds. It discourages the growth of algae. Water lettuce dies in cold weather.
Umbrella Palm. One of our favorite potted plants, the umbrella palm grows incredibly fast. It gets too large for small ponds -- seven feet tall. A member of the sedge family, you can bring this plant inside during the winter and keep it in a sunny location. Keep it in a tray of water. Outside you need to keep it out of the wind because it will blow over. Snip off any broken or bent shoots. Pruning encourages new growth. Halfway thru the season you can divide this plant into several new plants. We have had reports of these over wintering in Des Moines. Yes, we saw them over winter in a heated garage under lights. But, some have kept them outside all winter. We do not recommend this practice.
Dwarf Papyrus. Much smaller and therefore better for small ponds, this member of the sedge group stays more manageable -- about three feet. Snip off those bent stems -- right down to the crown. Give your papyrus a large, low pot. They grow larger in clumps. Plant three or so to a pot -- not in rows. Treat it just like the umbrella palm. You can also find a large papyrus that gets just as large as the umbrella palm.
Various Reeds. Horse reeds, zebra reeds, and variegated reeds all pretty much need the same care. Most survive the winter. Check your plant tag closely. Be aware that planting these in a natural (dirt bottom) pond, can result in these things taking over -- just like cattails. However, cattails have to be more invasive. Nothing can take over your pond faster than cattails.
Water Iris. In a two-week period the iris roots grew out of their starter pot. Yellow iris grow the fastest. They will also jump over the tops of their pot and sometimes will break their clay pots. Give them lots of room. Shallow pots work fine. Their blooms look just like regular garden-variety iris. Their foliage grows taller, however.
Japanese Variegated Iris. This one says it grows to three feet tall -- pretty tall for an iris. We have seen these grow taller than most people. Keep them out of the wind. Most irises bloom in late May or early June, so get them out early. You probably won’t see them bloom the first year. The best thing about the Japanese iris is they look great whether they bloom or not.
Taros. Their large leaves make them very susceptible to pot tipping. Put them in heavy pots and prepare to prune any taro not kept in an area protected from the wind. They come in a variety of stem colors and sizes. All look good if you prune them regularly. New taros wilt a day or two before perking up.
Duckweed (Blessing or Curse). Duckweed
(the little 1/5th-inch plant) floating above will take over a fishless
pond. It grows wild in Iowa where we’ve seen it grow an inch-thick
layer in some ponds. Some water gardeners dislike it as much as green algae.
Both suck contaminants and waste products out of the water. Both
make it hard to see your fish. However, goldfish and koi love
duckweed. They consider it a treat food. They eat it much
faster than it grows.
Floating Plastic Plants. Lacking a green thumb? You can find all the floating pond plants (except duckweed) in a plastic or silk version this year -- from hyacinths to a rainbow of water lilies. All need no fertilizer or trimming. You can even find water lily pads that will hold votive candles (bottom right) -- as much ambience as a Japanese lantern or Tiki torch.
Potted Plastic Plants. And you can find plastic versions of all the sedges, reeds, and irises. The live versions grow much taller.
Last Word. Plastic looks fine, but nothing compares with the look of a growing water garden. Some gardeners mix in the plastics to fill in till the live ones start growing. We like a water garden of live plants because it keeps our fish healthy and makes us feel good looking at it. Loafing in your chaise lounge beside your pond makes a great way to spend your break time (until the mosquitoes show up). LA.
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