A Water Garden in a Pot?
Living as I do in the dry southwest, there are few things in this world more beautiful than the seeps in our area where cattails and skunk cabbage may grow. Beautiful indeed would be bringing more water plants into my life in the form of water-lilies, lotus, cabomba and lush green ferns.
Growing up in the southwest, I read articles on building water gardens and backyard fountains wishing for one for my very own but never believing it was possible. But in all that reading, I learned a simple fact – all it takes to have a water garden is a sunny spot that’s big enough for a pot of water. Now I might have those lovely water plants and enjoy the delights of a water garden.
Growing a water garden in a pot or container is no more difficult than growing anything in a container. (OK, just a touch more if you add certain features like a fountain.) You need a sunny spot with at least 6 hours of full sun daily throughout the summer. Now you can have that water garden.
Create a simple water garden in a tub with a few submerged plants. Or, you can get more elaborate by arranging several containers together with a fountain powered by a circulating pump and hiding the containers with rocks and other landscaping materials, including other plants.You will probably find every thing you need at your local Home Depot type store.
Planning Your Container Water Garden
The most important thing when planning your water garden in a pot is location, location, location. The site where you place your container must receive a minimum of six hours of sun a day. Do not place your container under any overhanging trees or other tall plants. You do not want the leaves to drop into the water of your water garden and decay there. They will foul the water and you may end up having to start all over again. If you decide to go the full route with a larger pond or even using a swimming pool, check for safety issues with local authorities. Keep in mind that young children can drown in the smallest of containers that can hold water. Stay safe.
What you plant will depend on the container or pot you use; how deep it is and the surface area of the water once in the pot. Get plants that are hardy for your area. There are four basic kinds of water plants:
Surface Plants – like lotus and water lilies with their roots in a flower pot placed in the bottom of the container. They will put out leaves on long stems that float on the surface of the water.
Floating water plants like water hyacinth and cabomba need no planting. They float on the surface of the water with their roots trailing down to absorb nutrients.
Submerged plants – These grow completely underwater and seldom show their leaves above the surface. They help maintain the balance of nitrogen and other nutrients. They will also need thinning to keep them from overwhelming your water garden.
Marginal or Bog plants are plants that grow at the edges of ponds and in marshy areas in the wild. They like to keep their roots and lower parts of their stems underwater. Dwarf cattails, black taro and sweet flag are some examples of marginal plants.
You must keep the size of your container in mind when choosing plants for your container water garden. The rule of thumb is that your plants should cover no more than 2/3 of the surface of the water. Don’t crowd the plants in your water garden pot.
Later this week we will continue this article with part two with some tips on how to build your water garden in a pot.