Showing posts with label aquatic plants. Show all posts
Showing posts with label aquatic plants. Show all posts

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Variegated Acorus

Acorus, middle of picture, installed in Ocean Springs MS

Variegated Acorus is a sweet flag, invasive as hyacinths. It grows naturally along banks of any water, maybe a mud puddle if the puddle is there long enough. I keep it potted up in the pond to keep it under control. When starts jumping out of its pot, just whack off all the stems coming from every hole in the pot. If you don't watch out, it will break the pot in its haste to get free.
It gets 12 - 18" tall in the pot and then starts getting wider.  I usually divide it yearly.  After a few years, people will start avoiding you if they see you coming with more acorus to share with them.  But it is pretty, not grown for its flowers, but for the foliage.
It can handle partial shade and is hardy, surviving in zone 5 down to zero degrees or colder.  I am sure it doesn't grow as fast and furious in the cooler weather like it does in zone 9a where I am.
Acorus gets scale...all the time. Here's what I do. I cut the acorus back to about 1" tall and suberged the pot, plant and all. When it comes back up out of the water, the scale is gone, drowned.
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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Preparing for Spring

Spring has arrived here in New Orleans, where I live, so it's time for spring pond care. I know you folks who live in northern climes are still feeling some nip in the air, so you will wait a bit before prepping your pond for spring. 

But for us, we are excited that our fish are swimming around, our plants are poking green shoots above the water, our waterfalls have come back to life and we are relaxing out of doors in our wonderful spring weather. 

We cannot relax just yet, because our temperatures are still fluctuating as are yours. Just because you have a 70 degree F day does not mean that you can start feeding koi. They must not be fed until the pond water temperatures are stable at 55 degrees F at night. Remember, if you have a balanced pond and no koi, you never feed your fish. 

Things to Have 

Check your filter. It is clean? Even if it looks clean, it probably is not. So give it a good cleaning. If you have a biofilter, give it a kick start with a bacteria/enzyme product like Microbe-Lift PL to ensure a good bacteria colony starts to grow in your biofilter. 

Check your pump. Clean it up. Check all your hoses for leaks or cracks. Nothing is worse than coming home from work and finding your pond dry because a hose leaked and your pond is nearly dry. 

Make sure you have a dechlorinator on hand. You will need it. I know you think you won’t, but you will. Here’s what happens. You decide to top off the pump. The phone rings. Then you realize you need to get to the bank before it closes, so you dash out. While you are out, you decide to take care of a few more errands. You return home a couple of hours later. Oops!! Your yard is flooded and your fish are lying motionless at the bottom of the pond. Add dechlor immediately. Start the pump is it was not already running. 90% of the time, you can save your fish. 

Keep Microbe-LIft PL on hand for blanketweed or string algae growth. With warmer temperatures, algae begins to grow quickly. 

Check your nets. Are they useable? It might be time to replace them. 

It never hurts to have a few hose clamps in your pond drawer or on your pond shelf. Those rascally things always break when you don’t have any spares. 

Do you have spare pumps? If so, check them now to see if they still work. Often when a pump is stored out of water, seals can break, especially if the pump was in a freezing garage or shed. 

Things to Do 

If you have chemicals, fertilizers or fish food left from last summer, throw it away. Most likely they have lost potency or have become rotten. It’s best just to dispose of them and start over. 

If you have leaves or other debris in your pond, remove it now. As the water heats up, the debris begins to decompose, fouls your water and fish can die quickly. Spring is a great time to totally clean out your pond. Remove all water, all equipment, scrub the sides lightly (no soap), rinse, use a wet vac to get the last of the dirty water out and then replace everything. Your fish and plants will thank you for it. 

Check your fish for any illnesses or wounds. If your fish are still a big sluggish, leave them alone. They are not fully awake until the water temperatures are consistently above 55 degrees F. 

Within a couple of weeks after your water reaches 55 degrees F, you can start exchanging 10% of your water weekly. Pond water is the best fertilizer in the world. Pump it into your veggie or flower beds. Water exchanges keep nitrites from building up and keep your fish alive, healthy and happy. 

Check your water plants. Spring is a great time for dividing and repotting. Remember, do not use any soil full of organic matter. I have had my best luck with water plants by potting them up in sand. I do not fertilize any pond plants except water lilies. They grow fast enough utilizing fish waste without having those plants leaping out of their pots by adding extra fertilizer. If you have extra plants after you have divided them, you can give them to a neighbor or friend. Remember, though, that many water plants can grow in low, damp spaces in your garden. So if you have taro, umbrella plants, or papyrus, plant them in your garden. Be aware they are very, very invasive, so be careful where you put them. 

If you have lost some of your cover or floating plants, now is the time to replace them. Your fish are happiest with 1/2 of the top of the pond covered. That gives the fish a place to hide from predators and keeps them cool in the heat of the summer. It also keeps the blazing sun from helping algae grow in your crystal clear water. 

Water lilies will start to grow when the water reaches about 65 degrees consistently. If you removed them from your pond and stored the corms in damp sand, you can pot them up and put them in the water with the top of the pot about 6” below the water surface. Do not fertilize them until the first leaves reach the top of the pond. Then use an aquatic plant fertilizer. I use a tab that I can just poke into the sand. If I am out of those, I have used Job’s Tomato Spikes or lacking those, Job’s Tree Spikes. Take the tree spike, whack it with a hammer to divide into 4 pieces. Use one piece at a time. Throughout the summer, your lilies want to be fertilized at least once monthly. Do not over fertilize or you will be feeding algae as well as your pond plants. 

Things to Watch Out For 

Be careful as you are beginning to play in your pond again. Big Daddy bullfrog is snoozing between rocks lying in wait for a tasty fly. If you disturb him, he will jump and scare the pants off you. 

This and other seasonal maintenance tips are in my pond how-to book.  You can buy it here.:

At my website pondlady. com you can meet hundreds of other pondkeepers, ask questions and share your pond experiences.  And we love photos. Show off your pond.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lizard's Tail, a Pond Plant

We took a walk along the Northshore Nature Center trail near Mandeville, La over the weekend.  I thought Louisiana irises would be in full bloom, but didn't see one.  I did see Lizard's Tail in bloom tho. 

Lizard's Tail grow in the water in the shallower parts of the swamp where the water is maybe 4" deep or less.  You will usually find it at the edges of ponds or marshes.

Of course, the Lizard's Tail rush gets its name from its bloom.  It grows from the end of a 6 inche stalk and droops into a tail about 3 inches long.  The leaf is heart shaped and about 5 inches long. 
It spreads using rhizomes that grow sideways under the water or the mud and pretty soon, you have Lizard's Tail everywhere. If you are going to have them in your pond, keep them in a pot.

I also feature pond plants in my new book available here:

It's number one on in Landscaping this morning. Yippee.

So join us at and share your pond stories with us.

Thanks for dropping by for a visit this morning

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Aquatic Plants for West Virginia

                                                                          Swamp Lily

What are some aquatic plants for a backyard pond in southern West Virginia?
Something other than lilies.

There are dozens, both tropical and hardy. Rushes of all kinds will do great. Arum and Saggitaria are particularly nice. Horsetail is another great plant for texture. Plant Louisiana Irises for spectacular spring color.
For floating plants, try parrots feather, water clover and water poppies.
Anacharis is the best for submerged vegetation.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Aquatic Plants

Plants for in and around water.?
If I have a small garden pond, like, 2ft wide by 4 ft long, 1 and 1/2 to 2 feet deep, in an area that gets partial sunlight, what are the best plants to put in the water that will not get to big or take over? What about plants for around the pond (partial sunlight also.)
Most aquatic plants are invasive. After all, they are only swamp weeds.
Try some Louisiana irises and dwarf papyrus. Horsetail fern can work as well. Be sure they are in pots and keep them trimmed back. Cut them back at least once a year.
You can plant irises around the pond as well. It makes the pond look bigger. Cannas work both in and out of the pond as well, but can get 4' tall.
Dwarf acorus is a great variegated grass that doesn't misbehave.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Floating Plants

When we are balancing the pond ecologically, we know we must include oxygenating plants, submerged grasses like anacharis, hornwort or cabomba.

As oxygenating plants are the workhorse of the balanced pond, floating plants are certainly the next most important. Oxygenating plants usually don't want to be in full sun, so the floating plants provide shade and the submerged plants can flourish. They also provide cool spots when the sun is beating down on the water and hiding places for fish when predators like local birds come looking for dinner. Some of the floating plants are mosaic, pictured above, parrots's feather, which can climb up and out of the pond, over the rocks. Water hyacinths, another floating plant can be noxious weeds and illegal in your state, so always check with your local extension service before introducing them into your pond. Water poppy and water clover are two other floaters that spread quickly, but are easily controlled and add another dimension to your waterscape.

With the addition of floating plants that cover at least one half of the pond surface, you have balanced your pond and lessened the maintenance immeasurably. And less maintenance makes us all happy.

As with all plants, floating plants will not survive with koi in the pond.