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Some Swampy Plants For Lazy Gardeners

 By Daniela Rizzo

Aquatic Gardens

Ponds, Streams, Waterfalls & Fountains:
Volume 1. Design & Construction
Volume 2. Maintenance, Stocking, Examples

V. 1 Print and eBook on Amazon
V. 2 Print and eBook on Amazon 

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Hedychium (Zingiberaceae) species originate from India and Southeast Asia. They have

beautiful sweet smelling flowers like orchids, but don't tolerate temperatures below 7°C.

Not really swamp plants, they are best settled on the banks in a rich soil. In the autumn is

important to cut off floriferous stalks. These plants reproduce by stolons but you can also

divide the rhizome.

The genus Hibiscus (Malvaceae) contains many species, but some, like H. syriacus, are

too big for a pond. H. moscheutus (= H. palustris) is obviously the most suitable for a

pond. Indigenous to the southern United States it loves sunny places and will grow up to

2.5 meters in height. The flowers are pink with darker inner part , they remain open only

during one day but are a lot so the plant is in full bloom during all summer. Another

good species is H. coccineus, also from the southern USA. During the winter it needs

protection otherwise the leaves will die. This plant has amazing buds that become

beautiful big red flowers from July to September. If you want to reproduce Hibiscus

from seed you can sow in the spring, but if you divide mature plants in autumn you'll

have a delicious blossom next June. Cultivate them in a mix of soil and sand.

Hibiscus coccineus leaf

Hibiscus coccineus flower

Hosta lancifolia (Liliaceae) is a perennial plant from China and Japan. This species is

appreciated for its decorative green leaves and though it will do well in shady spots it

needs good sunlight for several hours per day if it is to bloom. You can plant Hosta in

fertil soil in March or October, from June till September you'll enjoy the graceful lilac

flowers. Hosta rarely produces seeds, so it is easier to reproduce this plant by splitting

mature plants. Plants reared from seeds often do not look much like the parent plant.

Houttuyinia cordata (Saururaceae) comes from China and Japan and has very beautiful green leaves with red or white edges. Unusually for

bog plants, Houttuyinia have a delicate scent that attracts butterflies. In March or September you can plant this species eight centimeters deep,

laying horizontally the rhizome, during the summer the flowers will bloom, but if the season is warm we can have two flowering each year. This

plant will reproduce without problems; you have only to wait! H. cordata can live in a shady corner of the pond, but to maintain the red leaf

edge it needs strong but not direct sunlight.

Iris (Iridaceae). Hundreds are the species and varieties of Iris, all the I. laevigata, Iris pseudoacorus and I. kaempferi are suitable for ponds

where they live in 15-45 cm deep water. I. kaempferi comes from China and Japan, is a strong plant and during the winter can live in dry soil.

The flowers, white, violet, pink appear in June. The plant produces many stolons but if you want to reproduce Iris by seeds you have to wait

April. Remember: this plant doesn't like hard, alkaline water or earth and direct sunlight. Iris can grow up to 80 cm and are perfect for pond

borders, planted in clumps.

Lysimachia nummularia (Primulaceae) This genus is found across Europe, America

and Asia, in bogs and along inundated riverbanks. L. nummularia can live in any position

but needs sun to produce yellow flowers. The leaves are rounded and lie on the water

surface in 'branches' long up to 40 centimeters. Don't submerge Lysimachia, she lives

well in very shallow water, at a depth of 5-10 cm. From May to September the plants

bloom, and in September you can divide the pot contents into new plants using soil

mixed with sand.

Mentha aquatica (Labiatae) is a perfect addition to every pond; you can cultivate this

cosmopolitan plant for years without problems. During harsh winters the leaves die but

the plant will spring into life once it gets warmer. This plant prefers shady positions; if

the sun is too strong the leaves turn pale green. The little white or lilac flowers bloom

from May through to the end of summer. One Mentha is settled in and thriving, you'll

have new nice plants spreading into your pond without any extra effort!

Mimulus ringens (Scrophulariaceae) lives in North America and is a beautiful plant

with small violet flowers that thrives in shady positions and in shallow water up to 10 cm

deep. It can reach 50 cm in height and is a good plant for covering the banks of the pond.

The hanging, light green leaves and the violet flowers make an interesting contrast. If you

plant your Mimulus in September, by the next year you'll have many clumps of this plant

that you can divide and move to new locations. This is a rather robust plant: last year I

transplanted young Mimulus that were in flower during a hot July (not recommended)

and they continued producing flowers and new leaves without any trouble!

Pontederia cordata (Pontederiaceae) is spread in the temperate zones of North America.

This high plant (up to 1 meter) is recommended for big ponds where it prefers sunny

places that are warm and either stagnant or feebly flowing. You have to plant them at a

depth of 20 cm maximum in a rich soil. From June to September the soft, downy buds will bloom. In April or May you can cut the rhizome

(always with a sharp knife to avoid mould and rotting) and bury the portions in 6-7 cm deep water. If the plant is happy it will also produce new

plants as stolons, and these can be cut away and replanted. Not a plant for ponds with

freshwater turtles: mine have eaten a 60 cm tall Pontederia in just one day!

Sagittaria sagittifolia (Alismataceae) comes from Europe but many other species of this

genus live in America and Asia. Above water, this plant has large and decorative arrowshaped

leaves (sagitta means 'arrow' in Greek, hence the name). Below the waterline the

leaves are different and rather ribbon-like. In June plant only young specimens; large

specimens tend to be disturbed by the sun and wind. During the summer the plant blooms;

the male flowers don't ripen at the same time with female ones to avoid self-pollination.

The stolons of all species of Sagittaria carry small light-blue or green tubers (regarded as

eatable in Asia) in which the plant stores reserves of nourishing matter for the cold winter.

To reproduce this species you can subdivide the rhizome in March or cut off from the

mother plant any new daughter plants that form.

And now is the turn of floating plants, to be successful in their cultivation we need warm air and water, stagnant water and rich soil in the

ground to release nourishing substances to the floating roots. Remember: goldfishes and freshwater turtles love small floating plants as meal.

Eichornia crassipes (Pontederiaceae) originates from Central America but by now has infested warm water in all the temperate world. In the

wild Eichornia creates floating islands that give harbour to thousand of fishes (perfect plant for cichlid-lovers). This plant can live also in very

shallow water with the roots in the ground. Rarely she produces seeds but new plants grow during the summer when temperature reaches 25°C.

If you haven't success with Eichornia the main problem is the poorness of the water.

Eichornia crassipes

Eichornia crassipes flower

Pistia stratiotes (Araceae) is diffused through the temperate zones in all the world where

the temperature flows between 20° and 30°C. Loves sunny and shady places but fears

water drops on the leaves and poor water. If the velvety nice leaves turn yellow iron is

needed. In the summer Pistia will produce new plants.

Salvinia auriculata (Salviniaceae) lives in the Tropical America and absolutely wants sun,

warm air and fertil soil. If the light is enough the leaves crowd together lifting their edge

from the water as an ear, hence the name auriculata. Salvinia reproduces by spores.

Salvinia auriculata

And now you have only to try and enjoy your pond!

Aquatic Gardens

Ponds, Streams, Waterfalls & Fountains:
Volume 1. Design & Construction
Volume 2. Maintenance, Stocking, Examples

V. 1 Print and eBook on Amazon
V. 2 Print and eBook on Amazon 

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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