“Greater demand means there’s a lot more exciting aquatic plant material to be found out there,” says Chris Wilson, a technical expert at Aquascape Designs, Inc., Batavia, IL. “Today’s water gardener has their pick of hundreds of aquatic and marginal plants from water lilies and lotus to papyrus, cattails, cannas, and more.”
Here is a list of annual water plants to fill your pond and get the season started in style:
Water Hyacinth: This floater (pictured above) needs no planting. Just place it on the ponds surface and off it goes. It has a purple, scented flower and is a prolific grower in full sun.
Water Lettuce: This is another floater plant. It is also called shellflower. The plant has pale green leaves that resemble a bunch of frilled lettuce. It is a fast grower and will quickly fill in any blank pond spaces. It divides easily for sharing with other gardeners..
Parrot’s Feather: This plant gets its name from the feathery lime-green foliage that is beautiful to look at. It is a very quick grower that is essentially a floater, but likes to have its roots anchored in the edge of other plants’ pots or between rocks along the pond edges.
Papyrus: Add vertical interest and an exotic touch to your water garden with this ancient plant. It is a bog plant so should be placed just below the surface and at the edge of your pond. Elevate it on a few bricks if necessary. Choose a dwarf variety if you only have a small pond or water garden container.
Tropical Water Lily: Unlike their hardy cousins, tropical water lilies will not survive our DC-area frosts and freezes. However, you’ll want to add one or two to your water garden every year as these wonderful bloomers comes in luscious colors and with scents that their hardy cousins can never match. Tropical water lilies bloom either by day or night. Be sure to purchase on that will bloom during the hours you are home most and can get the most enjoyment out of it.
One of the best sources for water garden plants in the area is Lilypons (http://www.lilypons.com/) in Adamstown, MD. Since 1917, Lilypons has been the source for water garden plants and supplies. Treat yourself to a visit to their beautiful 300 acres of natural ponds, woods and rolling hills, next to the Monocacy River. They host several special events each year including Children’s Day and the British Car Show, but stop by anytime to consult with their knowledgeable staff or just to take a stroll among the herons and frogs.
We'll be talking more about water gardening on the Metro Connection show, WAMU 88.5 on Friday, July 3 at 1pm.
For even more about water gardening in the DC-area, see the July/August 2005 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine. Included in that issue is a list of what NOT to plant near your water garden, edible plants that grow in water, and a focus on hardy water lilies. It is available for $5 by sending a check or money order to: Washington Gardener Magazine, 826 Philadelphia Ave., Silver Spring MD 20910. Be sure to include a note specifying you want the July/August 2005 issue and where you would like it mailed.