Actually you can have a small water garden in any container that holds water.  Not every water garden needs a LOTUS or a WATER LILY but if you have a large enough container you can even have those. Over the years I have acquired various ones.  My two smallest ones look like the old cast iron kettles the pioneers carried in their covered wagons.  They are black and sit on three legs so can be put anywhere you like, preferably in the sun. In the last year some of the garden centers have an even bigger “kettle”.

          This week I moved my UMBRELLA PLANT (Cyperus species) into its summer home after spending the winter in the garage. There are a number of different Cyperus sizes you can get at the garden centers. This one is large enough to almost fill its container so there is not a lot of extra water.  It was in a WATER LILY pot so I just pulled it out and moved it. It is about 3 feet high with long narrow leaves forming an umbrella at the top.  The UMBRELLA will grow, and this fall I will have to use a big knife or saw to cut a piece off to put back in the garage.  It is put in large ponds on the shelf around the edges with the crown not more than 4 inches under water.

They need fertilizer but you need to get special water pellets and push them down close to the roots. When it warms up I will put WATER LETTUCE (Pistia stratiotes) around the edges. You can not use water lettuce down South as it is very invasive in warm water just like WATER HYACINTH. So when it fills the “kettle” I can just throw a few in the compost pile. 

          I have 6 colors of HARDY WATER LILIES that fill my two small ponds so any other plants have to live elsewhere.  This means the WATER LOTUS. One will more than fill a container as large as a whiskey barrel. They will send up small leaves at first, then very large, very tall ones above the water line.  The blooms themselves may get to be five foot tall and last three days-a large waxy creation. I have a white one and a red one that both leave a large flat seed pod with holes containing seeds that is almost as interesting as the blooms.  Flower arrangers love to have these seed pods.

          One nice thing about container water gardens is that one can grow bog plants by leaving your plants in their pots and putting bricks or other pots filled with rocks under the bog plant pots to adjust the depth of the water. Some plants only need to keep their feet wet.  One of these is the RED LOBELIA (Lobelia fulgens) with dark leaves and brilliant red flowers about 30 inches high or Lobelia cardinalis with dark green leaves. 

          At its feet Juncus effuses spiralis is not an especially pretty plant but a “weirdo” to liven things up.  Corkscrew RUSH will stretch out with its curly foliage to soften the edges.  It needs to have its crown just above the water line.  I have one planted in the ground that has survived several years while the one from the water lived in the garage all winter.

          PICKEREL (Pontedaria cordata) has a spike of blue flowers that blooms off and on all summer.  They should not be under more than 6 inches of water. In the fall I drop pot and all into the bottom of my 2 foot pond as its roots must not freeze.  It gets 18-24 inches high in a clump of spear shaped leaves and the stem is spongy so I keep small rocks in the pot to keep it from floating. 

          CATTAIL (Typha species) is a fun plant.  You can get minis or talls.  People who have them in their farm ponds or ditches are sometimes not to fond of them as they are quite invasive if given room.  You can keep them under control by putting them in a large pot.  The brown “tails” are fun to have as a background. I hear they are edible but I have never tried.  Pioneers dipped them in oil after drying and used them as torches.  Typha minima is the dwarf form only about 2 feet tall.  I like them in a pond with WATER HYACINTHS (Eichhornia crassipes) which will crowd the container very fast.  After the WATER HYACINTH gets crowded, they usually decide to bloom with upright blue flowers. They are not allowed down South as they reproduce rapidly and crowd the water ways. In our zone 5 they can not stand the freezing so are treated as an annual.

          Each year you can find at the Garden Centers and pond stores any number of water or bog plants to try such as HORSETAILS, WATER IRIS, SWEET FLAG, MARSH MARIGOLDS, WATER CANNA, DUCK WEED, PARROT FEATHER, and even LIZARD’S TAIL.  And you can use most anything for a pond or container bog garden. I have a friend who has a water garden in an old, legged bath tub.

Copyright 2008




          This reminder is for you if you used Scotts Halts, or one of the store brand Crabgrass pre-emergent products from Westlake Hardware, Minards, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Ace Hardware, etc. These products contain either “PENDIMETHALIN”, or “Team” as the active ingredient. They have a residual of only about 60 days so you will need a second application sometime during the first two weeks of June to have season long control of FOXTAIL, SPURGE, and late germinating CRABGRASS. These weeds are going to start germinating in a couple weeks. Be sure and water in with at least ˝ inch of water. You can get Crabgrass pre-emergent with or without fertilizer. Remember, the more you fertilize, the more you have to mow, and the more you have to water. I recommend no more fertilizer until Labor Day.

Copyright 2008