Water Gardening, The Beautiful Lotus

Lotus in still pool of a lake

Lotus in still pool of a lake

The beautiful and majestic lotus is a wonderful addition to your pond. Asia, north Australia and easter North America offer two species of this plant. Lotuses have 4 general size categories which are miniature, dwarf, medium, and large. They are marginal plants found in the shallows and muddy banks of pools. Lotuses have very large, circular leaves, held horizontally above the waters surface by their stems, which may reach as high as 6 feet. Some of the leaves can get as large as 2 feet in diameter with blooms 12 inches across. There are also miniature lotuses that grow only to about a foot high with leaves about 6 inches in diameter and blooms about the size of a tennis ball.

Lotuses should be contained in the largest pot possible.

Lotuses should be contained in the largest pot possible.

Lotus sizing:

Miniature ……… 6 to 8 inches

Dwarf ………….. 10 to 12 inches

Medium ……….. 2 to 4 feet

Large …………… over 4 feet

The lotus bloom contains a seedpod in it’s center with the bloom petals arranged around the pod. These seed pods are often dried and used in flower arrangements, as well as the wonderfully strong and fragrant blooms when harvested while the bloom is open. The blooms petals have been used as an air freshener for centuries by placing them in a bowl of water.

The lotus needs lots of sunlight, but there are some that may do ok in partial shade. They flower for 6 to 8 weeks beginning in May or June in the deep south in the United States, and July farther north. In the south the plants may bloom a second time in September. They also require temperatures in the 80’s in order to produce their blooms. Lotuses love humid weather and thrive in the muggy heat. Although the blooms only last 4 days, they will continue to grow new blooms throughout the blooming season.

Lotuses come in many colors and sizes

Lotuses come in many colors and sizes

Lotuses are planted in pond pots, the largest possible for your pond, just under the surface of the water or at a depth of about 8 inches at most. The pot you plant them in will keep the tubers, or roots, from spreading and taking over your pond. Select a location where the plant will get as much light as possible. After the growing season is over the leaves and stems will turn brown, now is the time to cut the dead foliage. Trim them all the way down to the waters surface. And never expose them to chlorinated water, which could burn their leaves.

All lotuses are hardy plants and will winter well in freezing temperatures, as long as their tubers (roots) do not freeze. If the plants pot is near the surface, relocate it to deeper water for the winter to protect it from freezing. If the plants are not to be wintered under water, put the pot in a trash bag and store it where it will stay cool, but not freezing, and in a dark and damp location.

Lotuses come primarily in yellow, white, pink, and some with mixed coloring. There are some in blue and purple as well. You should be able to find the color you want in the size you need with a little research.

If your climate is warm enough in the summer, plant a lotus or two and enjoy your home improvement project.

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Plants For Your Water Garden

Water Gardening can be as simple or as complex as you want. The simple water garden is good for the small pond, and more complex water gardening is best reserved for the large water garden. The most obvious reason is space, which will define how much diversity a pond can contain and sustain. If you’re a beginner, I would suggest keeping it simple to start with so you can get a good idea of how your plants will develop and the space they need. It is easy to expand later on after you grasp the basics.

There are six categories of water plants that you should familiarize yourself with. These are: Submerged Plants and Oxygenators, Floating Water Plants, Water Lilies, Marginals, Water-Lily-Like Plants, and Lotuses.

Hardy Water Lily

In keeping with the simple and easy water garden, we will focus on three of these categories. You can add from the other categories as space and your expertise accumulates.

Water Lilies. I have chosen this category first because of their visual impact. Water Lilies are among the favorites of water gardeners and you should think about including them in your garden as well. Water Lilies are broken down into two groups: hardy and tropical. Hardy water lilies survive cold climates and winter well where as tropicals must have special care to keep from freezing. You can tell them apart because of their leaves, hardy ones have smooth edges on their leaves and tropicals have a crinkled appearance. Also hardy lily blooms open during the day and close at night while most tropical ones open at night and close again in the early to mid morning hours. Tropicals also have a stronger scent then the hardy variety. Most water lilies grow in 3 to 4 foot depths, but they do quite well in ponds with only 6 to 18 inches of water. If you live in a climate that often freezes your ponds surface during the winter, plant your lilies below the level of the ice. This will protect their roots from freezing and allow them to flourish again in the spring. Also, if freezing is the issue, use water lilies from the hardy variety. Since water lilies from both groups offer a wide selection of color, you can easily find the plants you want without sacrifice.Floating Water Plant, Eichhornia Crassipes

Floating Water Plants. Floating water plants are those that sit on the surface with no need of having their roots in soil to get their nutrients. Their roots simply dangle beneath them and collect nitrogen and phosphates from the water that could otherwise cause an algae bloom. These are extremely easy to grow plants, and some even have blue blooms. Although some are winter hardy, most are not. They are the cheapest of all water plants to have so treat them as annuals. Since they are rich in nitrogen and phosphates, (which they extract from the water), you can add them to your compost pile and make great natural fertilizer for the rest of your garden. They are prolific growers and can take over you pond quickly, so you will want to thin them out in mid season and as often as needed.

Water-Lily-Like Plant, Ranunculus aquatilisWater-Lily-Like Plants. These plants grow in soil from 1 inch to 2 feet below the water surface. They grow with their leaves and blossoms on the surface like lilies but are botanically different, so they are classified differently. Examples are Hawthorn and Frogbit. These plants also have wonderful blooms and will add contrast and variety to your water garden.

Water plants are easy to plant. You will need containers for your lily and lily-like water plants and your floating water plants need nothing at all. Also, if you intend to add fish to your pond, it is a good idea to cover the soil in your containers with small river stone or a simple wire or nylon mesh (1 inch chicken wire or bird wire works well). This will prevent the fish from digging in your containers to get at the plant roots (which they love to eat). Water plants are easy to take care of as well; usually just a little thinning out is all that is required. An added benefit of water plants is that they reduce nitrogen and phosphates in the water and provide shade, all of which will reduce ugly green algae. Once the planting is done, your ready to start enjoying your water garden.

Water Gardening is easy and fun, and can provide your garden with beauty for years to come. Have fun with your home improvement projects.

Water Gardening, Installing a Pool for Water Plants

Add a new dimension to your garden with a water feature for plants. Water gardening is fun and easy once you get started and will provide a beautiful focal point in you garden. No matter how small a space, you can have a water garden. Small water gardens can be just as attractive as larger ones, it all starts with the planning. In this article we will look at the addition of a small, prefabricated pool.

Water Garden PoolThe first thing to consider is where to place your water garden. Choose carefully. Your water garden should complement your garden, if you already have a developed one, or you may choose to have it as a center attraction in a new garden scheme. It’s up to you. Also consider placing it so that it is visible from inside the home, this will have the added attraction of bringing the outdoors indoor. But remember that these prefab pools will look smaller, typically from around 36 to 72 inches in length, once it is installed and usually only have a depth of about 18 inches. (There are larger ones available but they are rare). This shallow depth will make it difficult to winter lilies and fish, if you choose to add them. If you live in an area where you experience freezing temperatures for extended periods, plants and fish may not survive. Also algae control can be difficult if your pool does not have moving water or enough shade, which is something to consider before you buy (we will discuss algae control in another blog).

Construction is very straightforward. Usually you can purchase your pool as a kit with complete instructions for their installation. It will entail digging a hole to place the basin in, slightly over sized, to accommodate it. You will want to be sure that your final depth has tamped, that is compactedPrefabricated Pool, soil. You can accomplish this by using a tamp. A tamp is a flat, cast iron base, usually 8 inches square, with a handle protruding from its center, and is available at your garden or tool center. This will limit the amount of soil compression, or sinking, that may accrue. Then sand is usually used to rest the bottom of the basin on and to fill all voids around it to add support. Remember that water is heavy and the plastic used in these prefab pools need to be supported so they will not distort. Be sure to keep the basin level during installation, that way it will be uniform and not have a low side that water can escape over. The method for back filling around the outside of the basin is to add about 4 inches of water to the pool and then back fill the outside with the sand. Continue alternating filling with water and back filling with sand until you have the basin fully installed.

Adding stones at the edge of the top lip of the pool will disguise the plastic and add a decorative accent, adding harmony to your project.

My next topic will be plants for your water garden, so check back for ideas and considerations on plants for your water garden.

For more ideas on ponds see Fantastic Fish Ponds.

Have fun with your home improvement projects.