Archive for the ‘Proper Planting’ Category

Welcome Spring…

March 22, 2009

     Friday spring officially arrived. She may just be sitting on the calendar as morning frost covers the ground again in the Midwest through the east. Colorado and Wyoming and across the northern half of the Midwest are preparing for snow. Not at all uncommon as Denver’s snowiest month is March.

      Next weekend it looks like cold air will again be shoved to northern Texas and snow  is a possibility as far south as Oklahoma City east to St. Lois and north to IL. All week I have been getting requests for order to be sent north for customers as far north as Michigan. When I ask if they will keep the plants inside customers tell me its 70 degrees today or yes in the Garage or greenhouse.

Normal Last Freeze Dates in the USA, proper planting is 7-14 days later.

Normal Last Freeze Dates in the USA, proper planting is 7-14 days later.

       This is common every year but I promise if you can hold out your plants will like you much better. Putting them in a cool or cold pond too early can stunt their growth, keep them dormant for up to 8 weeks. If my proper planting time is May 10th I would rather get my plants May 10th than April 15th, have them begin to go yellow in a garage and then wait until July before they begin bursting into bloom because they have been tricked into thinking it is fall. Our nurseries in Ohio are kept hot and in Florida are very hot. Going to lukewarm weather makes them think its geting cool (IE fall not spring). Having them arrive 2 weeks early they will stop flowering and growing when they get to yuor cool water or feel a few 38 degree nights. Or they begin yellowing indoors without enough direct sunlight. Love your plants, don’t ask for them too early. They are happy in their nice warm greenhouse. Just some advice. But yes we will send them now if you would like them.  

       Today’s blog is half a weather report. As a rule of thumb, I decided years ago its time to put pond plants in the week you plant tomatoes or annuals. The waters warm so much more slowly than the afternoon temperatures, especially below the surface of the water.

Shelf plants like Louisiana Iris start growing in early spring.

In the south spring flowers are probably starting to grow along the shelf as that is where the water will become warmer first, lilies and submerged plants begin growing a little later. Soon spring Louisiana Iris and Marsh marigolds will be in bloom.

Sacred Lotus

March 1, 2009
Crystal Beauty Lotus (Availabe Apr-Jun)

Crystal Beauty Lotus (Availabe Apr-Jun)

by Nancy G. deGarmeaux;   Of all the plants you can choose for your water garden or pond, the lotus is truly the aristocrat!  The American Lotus is one of the most striking plants on the planet.   Most of the round, Lily pad like shaped leaves stand high above the water, while the remaining leaves float on or just above it.  The flowers are in shades of  white, pink, yellow and red.   Some with single blooms and some double like the Momo Botan. 

Chawan Basu Lotus (Available Apr-Jun)

Chawan Basu Lotus (Available Apr-Jun)

All lotus are free flowering, once established.  The leaves of the lotus are pale to medium green with a waxy-like satin finish.  The seed pods are unusual when dried and can be used in dried flower arrangements. Lotus’ need soil to root in and can be started in shallow containers or ponds.  Lotus plants are rapid spreaders  and must be confined as to not crowd out other plants.   The lotus plant is revered throughout Southern and South-central Asia.  You will see the “Sacred Lotus” mo-tiff on everything from architecture to embroidery.  Some of the lotus you can enjoy in your garden this year are  Rosy Clouds (red/pink), Perry’s Giant Sunburst (yellow), Empress (white w/tinged pink) and my very favorite, Pekinensis Rubra (red).  I hope you enjoy your water garden this year–remember to be a little adventuresome and try putting the “Sacred Lotus” in a special corner of your pond!                      NGdeG

MIAMI ROSE, my favorite water lily, we have brought to the homeowners market to date!

January 18, 2009

Miami Rose. In 2008 I declared this my favorite water lily to date.  I intend on showing you some new varieties that have just been hybridized that  we will be bringing to the mass market in 2010,  that may surpass this. There are NEW reds and purples that I cannot wait to show you this summer that are not available to anyone yet, you find them here first!

Zac's Favorite Water Lily to date! Miami Rose. Intense, long lasting, mottled foliage!

Zac's Favorite Water Lily to date! Miami Rose. Intense, long lasting, mottled foliage!

Miami Rose,  brought to market in 1999. A amazing cultivar from Florida Aquatic Nurseries (you will notice as you read through each species the same names over and over, its not that I just have favorite water lily developers it is more that there are so few people and companies that specialize in this and every generation has many developed species. The Annual or Tropical varieties will have many species developed by William Tricker from the late 1800s to early 1900s and then much more development by Craig Presnell of Luster Aquatics and Brad McLane of Florida Aquatic Nurseries from the 1980s-2000s. It seems like mainly winter hardy lilies were hybridized between the 1930s and 1980.)  

The Miami Rose is amazing from its intense blossoms and vibrant color to its heavily mottle purple foliage. The pads are lined and specked heavily with purple and teased with dark green patters inside the purple. I love showing people who have never seen anything but common, sometimes boring yellow or white hardy lilies with green pads something like the Miami Rose.  Once you go to the tropical lilies I don’t think you can ever come back! To me hardy water lilies have become boring except for a few species (I like Clyde Ikins for its ability to bloom no matter what, pink grapefruit is amazing, and the deeper reds like black princess hold a special place in my heart). Why no distributor is in love with the Annual water lilies is astonishing to me! Gardeners love annuals, they are the spice and flavor of a garden. There is nothing difficult about growing the annuals in any part of the 48 continental states or Hawaii. They bloom much more than hardy lilies, come in intense wonderful colors, have unbelievable pads, and few have ever seen these plants. They are not found at Wal Mart and I do not suggest they attempt to sell these as boxed roots as they do other species.

Tank of Miami Rose from the side, underside are specked with purple while heavily striped on top.

Tank of Miami Rose from the side, underside are specked with purple while heavily striped on top.

 Plant in a 2 to 5 gallon container with heavy loam soil. Fertilize heavily, loves sunshine and warm water. Plant when constantly above 75 degrees in late spring. Water temp must be in the 60s no 40 degree nights. The more shallow the more warm your water and more blooms you will get!

Rated as a perfect 5 or 5. Miami Rose is a award winning champion water lily. An over-achiever in the water garden.

On another note off topic. Funny but terrible story from 2008. Recently I began writing some generalized tips to include in a water garden newsletter I hope to get out this Summer.  Note for those of you who don’t know me I only get about 1 in 10 ideas finished and out the door on Water Gardening. I have found that if I dedicate a large sum of money into projects I am more likely to nurture them. Last summer we sent out 3 mailings which I am not sure bring in many new customers and they cost us around $23,000 with printing and mailing costs. The first two we spent months putting together and the third we threw together in about 4 days and it was a little shorter but the best of the 3. However we printed the wrong phone number on the first page of that catalog (inside front cover). Luckily the correct phone number was on every one of the rest of the pages however after Miami Rose. In 2008 I declared this my favorite water lily to date. Though I intend on showing you some new varieties that have just been hybridized we will be bringing to the mass market in 2010 that may surpass this. There are NEW reds and Purples that I cannot wait to show you this summer that are not available to anyone yet, you find them here first! a few weeks what I believe was a teenager called us and asked us why all our customers were calling her boyfriend. I apologized. I was hoping it wasn’t a real number and had not called it because I was afraid it would be. After discussing it with a coworker and feeling horrible I called the number back only to get a voice mail “I am not a company”.  We offered to pay phone bills for the guy but we never received a response and I think the phone number was changed soon after. I feel terrible about that and you would think I would check details more closely but I find typos on here daily. Given I don’t have 10 people to proofread it for me, I am glad I have been persistent in blogging except the first 10 days of the year when I decided to get a bad sinus infection.

Water Hyacinths #1 Selling Pond Plant in America! (Eichhornia crassipes)

December 16, 2008

Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) are truely an amazing species. They are extremely easy to grow. I have talked to a few people who have managed to let these  plants not perform well or die, but it’s rare. They grow so well and so quickly that they cannot be shipped to 11 states.  You can still have these plants in many of these states,  just keep them in private waters. The trouble comes when plant loving people take the extras to waterways and release their excess into no native waterways. The good news,  in more than 90% of the united states gets a hard freeze each year, one hard freeze zaps these wonderful plants and they will no longer be a problem. This means they are annuals and must be replaced each year. Not a problem for most as they cost about $2-$3 and if you buy in quantity, can be as low as $1.50 each.

These plants are amazing filters of the water, in Europe in fact huge vats and greenhouses of Hyacinths are used as primary water treatment tanks. They grow and multiply so quickly and absorb almost all nutrients in the water.

Water Hyacinths Growing, To Flower let them grow in clucsters, fertilize with miracle grow, and they like sun and heat 85*+

Water Hyacinths Growing, To Flower let them grow in clucsters, fertilize with miracle grow, and they like sun and heat 85*+

 These plants like still water, they like to grow in clusters, do not break old foliage apart only new if you must. They enjoy sunshine but will do well in shade. Add them only after wether is warm, cold night will prohibit growth for up to 6 weeks and cause yellowing! They love nutrients, you can add a granular fertilizer like regular old miracle grow to a pond. Fish wont notice anything and plants will thrive. Add a few tablespoons per week anywhere in the pond, THERE IS “NOTHING” SPECIAL ABOUT POND PLANT FERTILIZER. (it will contain no iron but thats it, most fertilizers dont contain iron which is a cause of algae).

Below is how a water hyacinth looks normally upon arrive. If too tall it may lay on its side for a few days but all new growth will be upright.

Water Hyacinth at arrival when ordered or bought from store. Buy in quantity for quicker blooming.

Water Hyacinth at arrival when ordered or bought from store. Buy in quantity for quicker blooming.

KEEP AWAY FROM SPLASHING WATERFALLS AND FOUNTAINS! A wet plant is an unhappy plant, they need to exchange oxygen through the leaves and water inhibits this process.

Water Hyacinth Farm

Water Hyacinth Farm

 

This plant will prevent algae and keepwater crystal clear once 30-40% of the pond has coverage by plants (lilies, lettuce, or hyacinth).

The roots are a great place to hide from herons and raccoons. An all around wonderful plant.

Moneywort (Bacopa monnieri) New 2009

December 16, 2008

Though new for the company I work for, I have been familiar with moneywort for some time. It is easy to grow and can be planted as an oxygenator under the water or a flowering bog plant.  This plant can actually be grown as an herb apparently benefiting the brain. I am not growing it for that purpose so that’s as deep as I will go into that use. As a submerged pond plant it is very easy to grow and enjoys light.  This plant will probably rot and die in shady ponds.

Bacopa monnieri, white flowers surround the base of other bog plants at the surface like umbrella palms or thalia delbata

Bacopa monnieri, white flowers surround the base of other bog plants at the surface like umbrella palms or thalia delbata Moneywort submerged growing toward the surface.

It has small white flowers above the surface and grows nicely along the base of other bog plants covering containers! Neat trick.

Anacharis (Egeria densa) Submerged Oxygenating Pond Plants

December 14, 2008

     The most popular and easiest growing under water or submerged oxygenating pond plant is anacharis (Egeria densa) though followed closely by a wonderful hornwort which shall be discussed soon.  More info below the big picture.

Anacharis picture taken indoors.

Anacharis picture taken indoors.

     Contrary to popular belief you probably do not need these plants in your water garden. A single pump of almost any size running even a spitter or tiny waterfall will add probably a million times more oxygen to the pond than the plants in an hour. HOWEVER there are numerous other benefits from this plant and I do suggest you having plenty of these plants at the bottom of your water garden. This plant is one of only about five that should be in your pond and not be planted in soil. A basket with pea gravel should be fine if you have no large koi  (14″+) that will shred them.

     Anacharis come in small bunches about 6-8 stems rubber banded together. Many on-line companies offer these with optional weights so they sink straight to the bottom and no planting or baskets are required. The weights are a malleable (bendable) heavy metal that you simply wrap around the area where the rubber band is already located at the bottom of the stems. These plants rob the water of excess nutrients rapidly and that is a great thing, they are a super filter and suck up fish waste like it was nothing. The second benefit, a superior hiding place for adult fish and baby fish fry. Baby fry grow up around anacharis and hornwort and stay hidden from larger fish that would eat them. The larger fish hide between anacharis clusters when Hawks, Raccoons, Possums, neighborhood kids with nets, or the big daddy pond nemesis the Heron come around. Having enough submerged grasses and also surface plants (water lettuce, water hyacinths, and water lilies) keep your pond from becoming the daily buffet. Anacharis should be added 1 bunch per 10 gallons of water in ponds under 5000 gallons, or 1 bunch per 20 gallons for ponds over 5000 gallons. Thats many bunches but this product is sold in quantity and is generally a one time investment. If you have enough surface plants in your pond and submerged plants you will never add a drop of chemicals to ward off algae saving you 1000’s of dollars over the years, 100’s per season so just do it right the first time.

     Anacharis is winter hardy, sometimes fish nibble on it late or early in the year making it look like theres less in the spring butit quickly rebounds in generally days once thespring water temps are in the 60s. Hornwort can be used as an alternative also winter hardy.

Picture of weights to sinch submerged plants, 4" long they bend easy

Picture of weights to sinch submerged plants, 4" long they bend easy

Though they soak up fish waste remember the #1 cause of algae is feeding your pond fish. One or two meals per week is plenty. Theydont even need us to feed them as they live off algae and any bugs or larve inthe water. When we substitute their diet we upsetthe balance and cause an excess of waste. Waste + Water + Sunlight =Algae. If you dont feed your fish and have the proper balance of fish, you dont get algae and have clean water. The one or two meals a week are enough totrick the fish into never knowing whenit is you will feed them and they will meet you at the surface everytime you walk by the pond.

Enemies of Water Garden Plants

December 12, 2008

Before we dive into each type of aquatic plant and each species let us discuss what pond plants do not like.

1. Rough Water and splashing

Overall pond plants enjoy calm water, a fountain or “spitter” that splashes water on the upper side of leaves and foliage will get them to begin rotting.

Water lilies planted close to a waterfall that is turbulent or causing the top of the pads to stay wet will cause the plant to die back.

Splashing water, few water plants surround splashing in the pond but outside is ok.

Splashing water, few water plants surround splashing in the pond but outside is ok.

2. Annuals and cool water temps

Cool water will cause tropicals to die back, if you plant annuals. when it is lets say 74 degrees outside in May, the water at 12″ deep in May will probably still be pretty cool. Water warms and cools MUCH slower than the air temperature. If it isn’t time to put tomatoes in the ground it is too early to add annual plants.

Every year I hear from people its after the last frost and safe to plant. Cool weather can kill some tropicals and damage others. Water lettuce will turn yellow and begin to die overnight when temps go below 52 degrees. Tropical water lilies will begin to die back under 60 degrees. 

Now lets say you plant a little early, there is minor damage to some to tropicals, only a little discoloration. It will come back correct? Yes, but you have probably set the plant up to think its fall or winter and they will go dormant for 2-6 weeks before new growth begins to develop rapidly. Hold off for a week in the spring and your plants will be full grown and blooming much sooner than adding them a week or two early and then waiting for them to come back.

3. Extra high PH … (though note PH is fine up to about 8.8)

Bad pond companies will tell you your plants need to be in neutral water around 7.0, this is not true at all, most pond plants are grown in slightly alkaline water to begin with. Fertilizers and good soil will generally increase pond PH slightly and tap water comes out of the faucet in much of the country between 7.6 and 8.4 anyway. Leaves do not begin to brown on many plants before 8.8 or 9.0. Fish too do fine in slightly alkaline water so if you would like to buy overpriced ph down and buffer be my guest. It wont last at the lower level more than a few days and your fish are more likely to get stressed and become ill from bacteria or parasites with swings in the PH. Leave the pond as is and all will be fine.

Salt and Microbe Lift (a beneficial bacteria used in filtration) are the only two addatives I reccoomend ever putting in the pond. No chemicals are ever necessary.

Chlorine remover is also for the most part not needed, if your tap water is more than 24 hrs old all the chlorine has already evaporated. If your only adding a little water (less than 33%, the fish wont care at all about the small amount of chlorine).

4. Constant Shade

Most pond plants are not going to be good bloomers in full shade. There are plenty that do well in shade but if water lilies grew in ponds and lakes big enough to hold them naturally few big lakes are in full shade. This means under a tree is probably not ideal for a water garden full of blooms but you can still have a great water garden and some bloomers.

5. Plants without soil.

Removing floating plants like water hyacinths and water lettuce and oxygenating plants like anacharis and hornwort. Planted plants like water lilies, lotus, and marginal bog plants all need real rich heavy soil.

Bog plants need a minimum of 1-2 gallon containers of heavy loam soil. Loam is a mixture of about 40%  rich topsoil, 40% clay dirt, and 20% sand or sandy soil.  Potting soil is of course too light and will float out of the container when you place the plants in the pond. Topsoil is great as it has some nutrients and is heavy enough to stay in the container.

6.  Rocks around my plants

In the potted containers, plants need to have there crown exposed, this is the part of the tuber or root ball where the plant emerges from the root and begins the foliage or leaves. If you cover the top of your containers with pea gravel and dont watch the crown the plant may be unabel to emerge. The crown must be out of the soil and visible to the sun as seen below. Im sorry the image is scanned and a little pixilated.

Planting a young water lily with crown exposed

Planting a young water lily with crown exposed

Introducing the Water Garden Blog

December 7, 2008

Welcome to the Water Garden Blog, my name is Zac deGarmeaux and I have been a water gardener since I believe the summer of 1991. Only a youngster with a love for gardening and fascination with water and fish I bought my first water lily as a tuber from a pet store.

With a few goldfish and a poorly built pond of probably only 100 gallons at the time I embarked on my first water gardening experience. My mother and I built the pond in a single day while my father was at work as he would not have permitted this idea.

At the time we did not know much, the rocks were scraped together from various places and I think we used a grey tarp as a liner because there was no place to buy liner in our are in 1991. Upon returning home my father was introduced to our quick one day project and was not extraordinarily happy but was not upset either. Soon after the original pond (truly it was not what I would call a water garden as there needs to be plants in a garden, we had 1 water lily from a fish tank and I don’t think it was properly planted) was completed my dad asked me if I wanted to make it look a little better, I could read up on the subject and he and I would take his truck to a local creek for better rocks (northern panhandle of West Virginia has wonderful creek rock) and then we would “redo” the pond a little better.

I was ecstatic, I would much rather have something amazing, like with a waterfall than the little pond we scurried together over a few hours. I raced to the library and got every book they had, which wasn’t much. I think I watched a video or saw a program on TV. I had the opportunity to build the ultimate pond, just like the incredible ones in the photos of the books and on TV, this time with plants and a waterfall. I began ordering all the free catalogs, and sometimes paid catalogs from the back of books and magazines. Lilypons, Perry Slocum, and Van Ness Water Gardens, and fish hatcheries like Zetts in Pennsylvania. At the time catalog ordering was the only place to find these items. The following spring I had everything planned out for the ultimate pond, there was no way Id get the chance again I thought so its gotta be great. I had laid out plans for a two tier pond with a waterfall into the first pond and creek/stream between the two. The top pond was all shallow probably eight inches deep and the bottom pond was probably 400 gallons about 20 inches deep at the deepest part. My dad’s friend Bo Tribbet and his family had a pond before I and I think that is what started my fascination. The fish and plants, he had great koi and water lilies and provided me with some.

The second building of the now two tier pond was a thousand times better though not great at all by today’s standards (it is my experience about 90% of water garden growers go through is process of bigger & better ponds at a minimum of 3 times before they are happy or use up all available room in the area of the pond.

On to year three, I was again unhappy and new this could be better, neighbors were very interested in the second pond and my dad having been a big part of the restructure did not mind me working on the pond the following spring as he enjoyed the daily interest of people asking 100 questions. I raised the original bed of the top pond, enlarged it, completely landscaped it and it became a great upper pond falling now about 24inches down a waterfall into pond 2. I now found local (if you can call neighboring states local) water garden outlets. Trickers in Independence Ohio and Lily Blooms a little closer to home but still a trip. I went and visited the sites once or twice a year picking out many new species of pond plants and having fun with the Annuals. I will never forget my first Tropical water lilies, the Leopardess or first night bloomer the Antares. So many people all these years later have still not ventured into annual water lilies. For $25-$30 it is no more than a great hanging basket or two flats of flowers. The blooms are 100 times as amazing as the perinnial water lilies and you should have one or more of these lilies in your pond each spring.

Over the next few year neighbors began asking me to install water gardens in their yards. This mean more trips to Ohio and plenty of people to talk about my new hobby.

Before I left home for college I added a third pond to my parents home and spent the last few years basically running a water garden department of a local pet store and water gardening had really taken off.

In college about two hours away in Ohio I got a summer job at Lily Blooms, the water garden store and spent the rest of my spare time installing ponds and fixing leaks or completely redoing ponds for people in Canton Ohio and surrounding areas.

After graduating from College I began managing Pond Megastore, a national distributor of water garden plants, water lilies, pond fish and supplies. They began a website in 2005 and have broadened a market of selling a huge class of pond plants, pond snails, and hybrid newly developed water lilies from Florida to Virginia, and through Ohio. Water lilies can now be sent to any home in America. This conglomeration of six water garden facilities joined together to distribute the largest selection of quality grown pond plants in the world.

     I stopped installing water gardens completely and we focused on working with the growers and developers of aquatic plant species. As I work with customers today I find it still upsetting that so much knowledge about the “garden” aspect is lost. Many landscapers seemingly know nothing about water gardens. They install quick ponds with large sandstone (warning cheap and will eventually crush like sand in cold climates) and big pumps that make a short term impressive waterfall but lack any instruction of water plants or water lilies. They even tell customers plants cause algae when the exact opposite is true.

Landscapers also tell people not to plant aquatic species in soil. This too is untrue and we can dive deeper in future posts. I hope to get into some deep discussions on the water gardening subjects and introduce some in depth analysis into some amazing plants you may only see in botanical gardens but I will be more than glad to show you these can easily be grown in your backyard.