What better topic is there on a mid-90 degree day in July than water gardening ? Even though the thermometer was recording 97 degrees, under the pavilion at TheDCH, it seemed cooler because of the lovely sounds of trickling water. Peg and Tiffany of Gateway Garden Center in Hockessin, Delaware (http://www.gatewaygardens.com/) gave us a quick lunch time course on water gardening in containers, complete with a few samples of these self-contained gardens to see in person.
Peg explained that water gardening in a container was very easy to set up, versatile and could be anything from a small container with a fountain on a deck or patio to a large container in the garden. Moving water requires a pump and outdoor electrical outlet (with GFI protection), but a still water container can also be beautiful. Tiffany stressed there were few rules except to have an adequate size container for your plants and to choose plants according to the sun exposure they will receive.
To keep mosquitoes at bay, mosquito dunks can be dissolved in the water monthly to kill larva. The dunks are non- toxic to fish, pets and wildlife.
Marginal plants are potted in heavy soil topped with stones and placed in the containers as accents. Pots can be placed on a brick or paver to achieve the right height. Peg did caution against using concrete pavers as they will sometimes leach and change the water PH. Floater plants literally float on the surface and provide shade that decreases algae growth in sunnier settings. Fertilizer plugs may also be purchased and pushed down into the pots to encourage heavier blooming.
Water gardening 101 according to Peg & Tiffany
Pick Your Location
- Sun for more flowers, but maybe more algae
- Shade for less algae, but also less flowers
- Consider how you will view your container
- near an electrical outlet (with GFI protector) for fountains and moving water
Pick Your Container
- Scale the pot to the site (the more open the site, the larger)
- Dark colored containers appear deeper and discourage algae growth
- Pot should be as deep as it is wide to discourage algae growth
- whiskey half barrels with liners are almost perfect
- Pots with holes can be “corked” and sealed with silicone
- Horse troughs, galvanized tubs, bathtubs … anything that holds water will work. (keep under 2 feet deep)
Pick Your Sound
- Silence is good!
- Fountains and spouted ornaments bring motion as well as sound
- Keep moving water close to the surface to avoid splashing
- Shallow moving water attracts birds
Pick Your Plants
- Floating plants provide shade to the water (recommended in sunny sites)
- Examples of floating plants are : water hyacinths, water lettuce, dwarf water lilies, nymphoides, mosaic plants, water clover and more!
- Taller plants, called marginal or bog plants, are used to create vertical accents
- Examples of marginal plants are: water lilies, lotus, parrot feather, papyrus, iris and more!
- Underwater plants such as anacharis and hornwort are excellent natural filters
Water gardening plants and materials can be purchased at Gateway Garden Center. The staff will happily assist you in selecting just what you need. And, if you are a member of TheDCH, you’ll receive a 10% discount on the plants! Visit them on-line at http://www.gatewaygardens.com/