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.

Bird Lovers can’t be Koi Lovers…I explain

January 16, 2009

This post will definitely go under “off topic” though it dose pertain to water gardens.  

Last thing you want to see in your pond!

Last thing you want to see in your pond!

      I would assume many gardeners are bird lovers and outdoor lovers  as well.  And if you are a brand new water gardener,  then you may not know that the arch nemesis of a water garden with goldfish or koi, throughout most of the USA, is the Heron. This is one birdyou never want to catch in your  fishpond, they have only come for one reason, your backyard buffet.

Small & very pretty green heron, Still gonna eat your fish!

Small & very pretty green heron, Still gonna eat your fish!

In much of the country people don’t even know herons are in their area, they seem like large birds you may only find in th southern swamps. They are usually a protected species, some a foot tall, some four feet tall with a six foot wingspan. Found commonly hanging out next to water gardens in the early morning around sunrise or wading in the shallow end of a pond, a heron can swallow a 24″ fish and take off quickly. They love backyard ponds, as they are small, shallow, and the fish are usually bright colors, could we make it any easier for these birds? I don’t think so. . .  .

The Scarecrow I talk about, cost about $65-$79 as of 2008

The Scarecrow I talk about, cost about $65-$79 as of 2008

Now winter is a very common time to find these birds in your yard. For fish to live, we generally keep a hole in the ice here in the north, with a pump or trough deicer.  These birds have less and less open water to hunt  and they easily see our water gardens open water reflect like a mirror in the sky. Lakes and streams with fish are iced over but we provide a tiny open space of open water, on top of that, the fish are bright orange and red or white or yellow. These birds will come back until the pond is empty, however we can keep them away pretty easy. A scarecrow, battery operated device is sold almost everywhere & works on all animals, it one in has a motion detector and shoots a stream of chilly water at animals that come by the pond. You can set one in the area in which it protects so that you can come up behind it without getting sprayed. Most people, myself included, forget about the device and normally walk right by it, and you  may get a little spray of water at your butt.   It protects the pond and after a few squirts the bird will stop coming around for good. 

Another option is a decoy heron, these birds are territorial, move the plastic decoy from one side of the pond to the other every 7 days as birds are smart and flyover birds will notice the decoy never moves, after a while. Make sure you have plenty of submerged plants, as fish can hide from the birds in submerged grasses like anacharis or hornwort.

Last of all, a small line of fishing line around the pond ,about 14 inches high, is invisible to the heron and they only way they can get to the pond is to walk in, when they reach your fishing line fence, they cannot move any closer to the pond and don’t know what is in the way, they will then fly off. The fishing line is not unattractive, is inexpensive and easy to put up .Once the heron is gone, you can take it down.

 E-mail me if you need help finding anything.

Barbara Barnett Water Lily (Nymphaea Barbara Barnett, Hybridized 1997)

January 15, 2009

Barbara Barnett is an exquisite water lily hybridized and developed in 1997 by Brad McLane at Florida Aquatic Nurseries.  Described by its creator as “one of the few sunset water lilies”.  This species is non-viviparous and is similar to size and color of the Albert Greenberg water lily.

Barbara Barnett, sunset water lily Hybridized 1997

Barbara Barnett, sunset water lily, Hybridized 1997.  The flowers are described as yellowish-orange with pink tips. The sepal color is descried as orangish-pink with outer greenish to bronze with dark specks.   Stamens are yellow and the flower is cup shaped.  Adult plants have multiple blooms daily about 6-8″ across depending upon container size and regular fertilization. This water lily has a sweet fragrance and makes a decent daily cut flower. The Leaves / Pads: Each pad is dark green with a heavy light and dark burgundy splashed mottling. Adult pads should grow 10-12″ round. Medium to Large spread (3-5′ round).

This champion water lily gets 4.5 of 5 stars

Easy to Grow: Yes

Free Flowering: Yes (Multiple Blooms per day)

Sun light & plant requirements: Minimum 4 hrs direct sunlight to bloom, Calm water – no splash on foliage, plant in 2 – 5 gallon container, 6-24 inches deep. Note the more shallow you plant water lilies the more blooms you get. In cooler climates always plant lilies shallow as warmer water is at the top of the pond.

Winter: early, cold, and nationwide

December 26, 2008

Tomorrow will be the first warm day here in Ohio since October.  I get to write this post a second time because I somehow refreshed my page and erased thirty minutes worth of work.  I provided some winter and Christmas images, as it’s just too cold and snowy to  put up green images.

I will rewrite most of what I wanted to talk about today,  including how this winter and the current rocky econmic conditions will affect the home and garden industry as a whole, or at least my predictions for 2009. You may or may not care about this as it is not a common topic to discuss how enviromental and economic conditions affect plants.  However the economy will most certainly affect what you find IN garden centers each spring. 

 Last year I was asked how I thought the 2008 season would go as at the time we felt we were going into an economic downturn.

When you see economic reports in the news that the country is in a recession it is not necessarily true that everyone or every business is participating in a downturn. I am not forecasting that our sector of the water garden industry will suffer in 2009. In fact it is still quite possible the garden industry will do well in 2009. I see localized trouble for landscaping in some parts of the country but that is isolated. You can probably save on maintenance services should you be someone who hires someone to do your lawn or leaves. Take advantage of the situation. There will be more people willing to do yard work in 2009 due to both layoffs and a slightly tougher job market. A lawn business is something easy to start up that has immediate revenue and has a few costs or barriers to entry. Make sure who ever you hire is professional and that they know what they are doing. Most professional landscapers are still very bad water garden planners and installers. If I offended any landscapers feel free to e-mail me. Perhaps in the future I will put up a water gardening quiz. If your landscaper cannot answer the questions correctly than have them do everything but the water garden.

 I believe 2009 will be similar to the spring and summer of 2002 when fewer people spent money on trips or traveled.  Next year more people will stay at home and when this occurs they get creative. This is when we take time to redevelop our homes and yards. As we spend more time at home, we make our homes and gardens more inviting.  With winter having begun so early (November 1st here in Ohio), and now much of the south and west has had a few rounds of cold and snow and ice. By the time April gets here we will be tired of a cold brown landscape and we will be investing in our yards.

Blizzard conditions

Blizzard conditions

This does not mean we are all shelling out thousands of dollars but we will take out old overgrown shrubs we have been meaning to, dividing our hostas and replanting them. I think annuals will have huge growths in sales like petunias and inpatients (though there’s already bazillions of those). Our yards will be important. In the water garden industry I expect new water lily varieties to do well in sales like Leopardess (blue, mottles) water lily , Panama Pacific purple water lily, Miami Rose (reddish water lily), Pink Passion water Lily, and many more. Also new plants for sunny planters in most all of the country including papyrus which has been common in the southwest for some time and umbrella palms.

blizzard snow

blizzard snow

Last week we had ice storms in the north east, this week in Chicago and Indiana. Snow twice in two weeks in Seattle which is uncommon, and more uncommon they now refuse to salt the roads in the city (for a good laugh look up the news stories about police officers responding on foot in Seattle because the city refuses to salt the streets because the salt may go into Puget sound, a body of salt water?).  New Orleans and Beaumont TX had snow last week as did Las Vegas in the city. Florida has remained same so far but winter just arrived officially 5 days ago. Having lived here in Ohio for 8 or 9 years it wouldn’t surprise me if most of January and February are in the 50s but there is no sigh of that just yet. Tomorrow I will return to plants as I am anxious to begin discussing water lilies and what will be available this spring. We hope to be able to provide you with many new species and they are fantastic. I am having fun reading other blogs, mostly landscape like the whispering crane or searching the holiday making of people around the country.

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.

Red Star Ludwigia (Ludwigia glandulosa) NEW 2009!

December 16, 2008

Of the four new submerged oxygenating pond plants ,we are introducing to the homeowners of water gardens in 2009, this I think will be my favorite. A fan of Ludwigia  glandulosa for years , this new market variety is bright red and grows from below the waters surface to above. The foliage is absolutely fantastic, a deep wine red in color brings something new and amazing to the surface of the pond.

Red Star Ludwigia near waters surface
Red Star Ludwigia near waters surface

ludwigia_red

 This plant enjoys sunlight so it may not be suitable for ponds in full shade. it also likes warm water, it can be overwintered indoors with mild temps and a source of sunlight. Growth is slower than other submerged plants. It can be planted as a bog plant as well.  Great hiding source for small fish and for all fish from predators.

NEW! Lemon Bacopa (Bacopa Caroliniana)

December 16, 2008

New for 2009, Lemon Bacopa, named for its lemon scent,  is a very interesting pond plant. This plant comes bunched like anacharis but grows up to the surface of the water and then slightly above. Not only that but once above the surface it begins to bloom with tiny 1/2 inch wondrous blue flowers. This plant can also be planted as a bog plant and will love the soil and bloom more often. A great oxygenator I hope we can keep this  in stock for 2009.

Lemon Bacopa, wonderful oxygenator that blooms once it gets to the waters surface.

Lemon Bacopa, wonderful oxygenator that blooms once it gets to the waters surface.

Provides great hiding spot for fish when predators come around.  Highly reccomended.  Native to zone 8-10.  Other than submerged, great ground cover that is easy to grow in a diverse range of locations including bogs, streams, waterfalls, pond edges and container gardens; foliage lemon-scented.

submerged in an aquarium, this is how each bunch will look at the bottom of the pond.

submerged in an aquarium, this is how each bunch will look at the bottom of the pond.

Seasonal Care:
Cut tips down to 3 in. and float in a cup of water in a warm, sunny location indoors

Vallisneria, Jungle Vallisneria (Vallisneria Americana).. not sea weed

December 16, 2008

This plant will remind you of sea weed.  It is a freshwater submerged pond plant. One of the few submerged oxygenating pond plants that does not come banded and bunched as each is an individual plant. It begins with a root and small bulb underneath the stem, the leaves grow tall toward the surface. You can still use lead weights on the vallisneria to anchor each plant. Fish like the plant to hide around and most of them will leave the plant alone. It may not be as easy for baby fish to hide in as hornwort or anacharis but its a great plant and looks great under the water. It will overwinter in the bottom of ponds.

Two vallisneria plants. About 12" tall can grow to 36"+ depending on depth.

Two vallisneria plants. About 12" tall can grow to 36"+ depending on depth.

I am writing about the underwater plants so that all the less exciting plants are out of the way for the spring and summer.  Next we will have some newer varieties of submerged plants to the water garden industry. Rotala, Bacopa Lemon, and Red Star Ludwigia.

Cabomba, perhaps my least favorite submerged pond plant!

December 16, 2008
Though when growing in aquariums some of the Cabomba species may be the prettiest and softest and most gentle plants they are also by far the worst to add to any water garden with fish.
cabomba caroliniana

cabomba caroliniana

Cabomba furcata and Cabomba caroliniana are the two most common types I have found sold in the water garden industry. The plant for all intents and  purposes belongs strickly  in the aquarium plant industry. Why? Well it is very soft and both the stems and the foliage break easily. I do not find that these plants overwinter at all or they never seem to be around in the spring. Normally harvested and bunched in Florida shipped once is OK, if we ship it to another supplier and then they ship it to you, the plants arrive unhealthy and falling apart. Anacharis and hornwort can be damaged slightly in shipping and come back in a matter of days with new growth. Cabomba simply disintegrates. On top of that problem, they are so soft they make excellent meals for fish. One final problem, sold as a bunched plant, the rubber bands often destroy the bottom stems and the plant then float about the pond.

cabomba furcata

cabomba furcata

If you ever grow baby fish inside, this is a wonderful plant to add to an aquarium to serve as hiding space and food for fish fry.