Tuesday, March 01, 2005

How To Choose Water Garden Plants

So. The water garden bug has bitten. You’ve dug and leveled and sweated and said words you hope that no one else has heard. Now it’s time for the fun part – picking out your water garden plants!

Plant varieties within these four categories are what you need to eyeball: deep-water, marginals, oxygenators, and floaters. (If you think these words are big and weird, just thank your stars we’re not talking medicine.)

After you’ve diligently planted your babies in plastic tubs, pans, or clay pots, packing the fertilizer- and chemical-free soil down tightly, load the container down with pea gravel to keep the soil from floating away. (Don’t ask why this works, but it does.) Plunk your prize into the water at the appropriate depth (You’ll read about that in just a minute, so hang on to your hat.) and you’re on your way!

Plant-dunking should be done during the growing season. Wait four or five weeks for the water plants to do their thing before you add your fish. If you just can’t hold your horses, er, your fish, for that long, you can jump the gun a couple of weeks, but the idea is to let the plants first get established.

When picking your plants, you’ll no doubt be wowed by water lilies of the tropical persuasion. These aquatic wonders lord it over their hardier cousins with knock-out fragrance, big blooms day or night – depending on the variety – and a habit of blooming their little hearts out nearly every day during the growing season. They love their warmth, though, so unless you live in a year-round, warm-weather climate (in which case, you are used to being hated and has absolutely nothing to do with this article), be prepared to hasten them into a greenhouse or at least muster up enough moolah to buy them some “grow” lights to tough it out through the winter. They will definitely bite the dust at freezing temperatures, but give them night-time temps of at least 65F and daytime temps of 75F or warmer, and your love affair with tropicals will only grow that much more torrid.

Hardy water lilies, while not the showboaters that tropicals are, are . . . well, hardier. Their big advantage is that they can stay in the water year ‘round unless it freezes so deeply the rootstock is affected. And being the tough guys they are, you can plant these puppies deeper than the tropicals, some living it up in depths of 8 to 10 feet.

Both hardy and tropical water lilies are real sun worshippers. At least 5 to 10 hours a day is what it takes, along with regular fertilization, to keep these plant pals happy.

Everybody and their brother with a water garden wants a lotus plant. (Sisters, too, no doubt.) These water-lily relatives come in hardy and not-so-hardy strains, so make sure you know what you’re buying. Much bigger than water lilies, lotus have huge, famously splendid blooms that not only will knock your socks off, but make you forget you have feet altogether. Their leaves and seed pods are so breathtaking, they’re a favorite in costly cut-flower arrangements. Big, bold, and beautiful, with water-depth needs of 2-3 feet, these shouters are really better off in big ponds that get plenty of sun.

Marginals (sometimes called “bog” plants by those less high-falutin’) are grass-like plants that strut their stuff in shallow areas no deeper than 6” that border the water garden. They also do well in mud. Cattail, bamboo, rush, papyrus, and many other plants fall into the family of marginals and grow best with a minimum of at least three hours of jolly old Sol.

Some plants are there but not seen, working stoically under water and without fanfare to fight algae, oxygenate the water, and provide food for fish. (In lieu of these plants, if your pond is small, you can fake it fairly adequately with an aquarium pump.) Easy on the wallet, varieties of these plants can be bought in bunches and like their soil sandy and/or gravelly. Like hardy water lilies, they, too, will warrior it through the winter.

Water hyacinths have become a recent rage, especially for the lazy among us. No soil is required for these beauties. Toss them in the water and they’re “planted.” A water hyacinth ain’t just another pretty face, though; these plants do their part in the war against algae and blanket weeds by keeping sunlight scarce on the water’s surface. But one note of caution: This plant may take over the world if allowed. It’s invasive as all get out, so keep it under control or you (and your neighbors) may wish you’d never laid eyes on it.

A water garden isn't a garden without plants. Take your time, know your climate, and choose wisely. Your rewards will be great in return.

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Brett Fogle is the owner of MacArthur Water Gardens and several other pond-related websites including MacArthurWatergardens.com, and Pond-Filters-Online.com.

He also publishes a free monthly newsletter called PondStuff! with a reader circulation of over 9,000. To sign up for the free newsletter and receive our FREE 'New Pond Owners Guide' visit MacArthur Water Gardens today!

compiled by : Simply Flower Garden

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pest control in the perennial garden
http://home-gardening.blogspot.com/
If you have any good tips please post trhem on my blog

One of the many advantages of growing perennials is the ability of these beautiful flowers to return to full bloom season after season. While this ability to bloom repeatedly is one of the things that makes perennials so special, it also introduces a number of important factors into your gardening plan. One of the most important of these is a proper pest control regimen.

While a garden full of annuals starts each season as a blank slate, the perennial garden is essentially a work in progress. The fact that the plants stay in the ground through winter makes things like proper pruning, disease management and pest control very important. If the garden bed is not prepared properly after the current growing season, chances are the quality of the blooms will suffer when the next season rolls around.

One of the most important factors to a successful perennial pest control regimen is the attention and vigilance of the gardener. As the gardener, you are in the best position to notice any changes in the garden, such as spots on the leaves, holes in the leaves, or damage to the stems. Any one of these could indicate a problem such as pest infestation or a disease outbreak.

It is important to nip any such problem in the bud, since a disease outbreak or pest infestation can easily spread to take over an entire garden. Fortunately for the gardener, there are a number of effective methods for controlling both common pests and frequently seen plant diseases.

Some of these methods are chemical in nature, such as insecticides and fungicides, while others are more natural, like using beneficial insects to control harmful ones. While both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, many gardeners prefer to try the natural approach first, both for the health of the garden and the environment.

There is an additional benefit of the natural approach that many gardeners are unaware of. These days, it is very popular to combine a koi pond with a garden, for a soothing, relaxing environment. If you do plan to incorporate some type of fish pond into your garden landscape, it is critical to avoid using any type of insecticide or fungicide near the pond, since it could seep into the water and poison the fish. Fish are extremely sensitive to chemicals in the environment, especially with a closed environment like a pond.

As with any health issue, for people or plants, prevention is the best strategy to disease control and pest control alike. The best defense for the gardener is to grow a garden full of the healthiest, most vigorous plants possible. Whenever possible, varieties of plants bred to be disease or pest resistant should be used. There are a number of perennials that, through selective breeding, are quite resistant to the most common plant diseases, so it is a good idea to seek them out.

Happy gardening,
Stan
http://yourebooksuperstore.com/vegetable/

1:42 PM  

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