Each month, Society vice-president Dennis Campbell provides a rundown of common...and not so common pond plants. Below is his June, 2010 report. Scroll down for his previous Plant of the Month descriptions and photos.
AUGUST 2010 PLANT OF THE MONTH
ARROWHEAD Sagittsria spp.
There are more than 20 species of the perennial aquatic plants typically known as arrowheads (named for the 3-pointed shape of their leaves). Some of these are also known as bull tongue, duck potato, tube potato, Indian potato, and wapato. The common species found naturally in our local wet areas that also grows well in our backyard ponds, is the broad-leaf arrowhead, Sagittaria latifolia. The bright green triangulate leaves with petioles up to several feet in length emerging from the base below the water surface and the delicate white flowers on a long central stalk (appearing periodically throughout the summer) are particularly attractive features of this plant. The plant flourishes in full sun or partial shade (where tall growth and dark green color results) by sending out rhizomes in the mud of shallow water (up to 6 inches deep). Plant in containers to keep it from spreading.
JULY 2010 PLANT OF THE MONTH
CATTAIL Typha sp.
Cattails are tall (from 2-10 feet), emergent, marginal plants found in often dense stands in a wide variety of water environments. The most common varieties found in garden ponds include miniature (T. minima), graceful (T. laxmannii) and narrow-leaf (T. angustifolia) cattails. They all have long, slender, light-green leaves gathered at the base. In summer, tall stalks bear tubular (rounded in the miniature cattail) brown flower heads — the shorter, top portion being male that produce pollen, and the longer, bottom portion being female that produce the many fluffy wind-dispersed seeds when pollinated. Each species spreads not only from seeds but also by underwater rhizomes. Because of their typically aggressive spreading nature and the presence of sharp growing tips on the rhizomes that can puncture liners, it is suggested that they are grown in containers that are placed or buried in shallow water along the edge of the pond in full sun.
JUNE 2010 PLANT OF THE MONTH
COMMON WATER HYACINTH Eichhornia crassipes
Reproducing by way of runners and being one of the fastest growing plants known, the introduced Common Water Hyacinth is invasive and illegal to grow and transport in southern states. But up here in the north, this free-floating aquatic plant dies in the winter and is one of the most popular plants in our home ponds. It can stick out over a foot above the water with bright green ovate leaves attached to thick, air-filled petioles; and when grown in full sunlight, will produce spikes of attractive lavender flowers. The dangling thick root mats will pull in the extra nutrients of your pond and will provide protective habitat for fish. Koi will feed upon their roots, so consider growing them in floating nets. You might need to weed out (and compost) individuals as the summer goes on so as not to have the pond completely covered over.
MAY 2010 PLANT OF THE MONTH
CHAMELON HOUTTUYNIA Houttuynia cordata
Chameleon Houttuynia is a vigorously growing — some say, invasive — marginal/bog plant that grows in wet soil and/or slightly submerged in water along the edge of the pond. It has pungent smelling multi-colored heart-shaped leaves of white, green, and red, and white flowers. The red color of the leaves comes when the plant is in full sun, but the variegated colors and the vigorous growth comes in partial shade. The plant grows to almost a foot high. The plant spreads by rhizomes and may be difficult to eradicate if not contained within a pot.
APRIL 2010 PLANT OF THE MONTH
PARROT FEATHER Myriophyllum aquaticum
Parrot Feather ( Myriophyllum aquaticum) is a native of South America. A member of the water-milfoil family, it is an attractive perennial that gets it name from the feather-like appearance of its gray-green leaves. This plant can be grown submerged or trails on the surface in shallow water with aerial foliage. The plant produces small white flowers in spring, and as the weather warms up the plant begins to flourish. Seeds are not produced: new plants are grown from fragments of already rooted plants. It is an oxygenator and its foliage offers protection for the eggs and baby fry of goldfish and koi.
LAND OF LINCOLN WATER GARDENING SOCIETY