How to Water Garden Plants
The amount of water a plant requires and uses depends on several factors, including plant species and structure; environmental conditions such as light, temperature and humidity; cultural conditions of the soil; and the type of container used.
Because rigid water scheduling may result in overwatering some plants, while allowing other plants to become excessively dry, you must be prepared to water plants on an individual basis depending on need.
There are several ways to determine when a plant needs water. Although some plants prefer their root systems to become slightly dry before their next watering, it’s best to feel the soil regularly and water before any wilting is visible. Other plants require even moisture and do not tolerate dry roots. These plants should be watered when the top layer of soil begins to feel dry.
The most convenient and efficient way to water plants is to pour water on the soil surface. Be sure to completely cover the surface of the soil with water so it does not simply drain down between the potting soil and the side of the pot. Plants don’t tolerate waterlogged soil conditions, so don’t allow them to stand in water. Plants kept indoors should be placed in saucers or trays to prevent water damage to floors and furniture. Apply just enough water to fill the tray, and discard any water that collects in the tray.
Generally speaking, it’s better to water plants from the top than it is to sub-irrigate. Sub-irrigation is the process of watering plants by placing pots in a shallow amount of water in a tray or saucer and allowing the soil to draw water up from the bottom via wicking action. It’s acceptable to periodically water sub-irrigated plants to leach soluble salts from the potting soil.
When choosing aquatic plants for your water garden, there are three main categories that you can choose from: submerged, marginal (also called bog), and floating plants. Let’s look a little more closely at what each category entails.
Submerging into the depths
Submerged plants are underwater plants that grow when they are fully immersed. They receive their nutrients from the water through their leaves, rather than through roots. Submerged plants play an important role in water gardening because they help oxygenate the water, keep algae levels down, provide fish with food, and promote clear water.
To maintain a healthy balance in your water garden, stock it with one bunch of submerged plants per square foot of water surface. There are many varieties to choose from. Here are some of the most popular:
- Water Milfoil: is a common tropical aquarium plant and thrives in many different conditions. It should be planted in the spring by being weighted and dropped into the water. In the summer months, it may rise to the surface and produce flowers.
- Anacharis: is another submerged plant
that grows well. Since soil is not necessary for its survival, it
can be weighted and dropped into the pond. Anacharis may produce
roots to anchor itself. Its branchlets often break off from the
parent plant to form new plants. Other common submerged plants
include Cabomba, Dwarf Sagittaria, Vallisneria, Water Starwort, and
On the Fringe
Marginal plants or bog plants vary widely in size, texture, and form. They are most often used to accent a water Garden Nursery with seasonal flower color. On the edge of the water garden, they can be used to hide liners or power cords. When planted in the middle of the garden, they can provide bursts of color and texture, making your pond pleasing to the eye.
The number of marginal plants your garden will need varies depending on size. Here are a few of the most popular types:
- Lotus Flowers : are hardy, deep water plants that come in several sizes and are a staple in many water gardens. They can be grown in large tubs which hold up to 30 gallons. Place the banana-shaped rhizomes in the tub and cover with 1 inch of soil or gravel. Initially, the lotus can be placed 4 inches below the water surface.
- Cattails: are another popular marginal plant, which can grow in full sun or partial shade. They can be planted 1 to 4 inches deep in a container that sits just below the waterline. Common cattails can grow very tall (up to 9 feet), so you may want to consider choosing a dwarf variety.
Other popular bog plants include: Japanese and Water Iris, Papyrus, Arrowhead, Floating Heart, Bamboo, Bog Lily, and Water Clover.
Free-floating leaf plants add the finishing touch on your water garden. Not only do they move around the pond, changing their appearance, but they also aide the submerged plants by adding shadows. Some floating plants produce colorful blooms that appear at the water’s surface. The most popular are the lilies.
- Waterlilies: are divided into two types: tropical and hardy. They should cover between 50 and 75 percent of the pond’s surface area, limiting the amount of light that reaches the bottom of the pond which causes algae growth. The crown of tropical lilies can be placed in a deep pot and covered with 1 inch of soil or gravel. Lilies produce brilliant blooms in the summer months. Some are night bloomers.
Other floating plants include Water Hyacinth, Duckweed, Water Lettuce, and Water Poppy.
Water Gardens that Inspire
Adding something special to your water garden can make all the difference in the world, turning a drab pond into an exotic wonderland. Whether you are looking to create a more relaxing atmosphere or jazz up your garden with running fountains, you’re sure to find some great ideas here.
The Wonderful Waterfall
Waterfalls make a great addition to any water garden. Not only are they great for water circulation (which in turn is great for aquatic life), but they are also music to the ears. Many people find the sound of cascading water to be both pleasing and rejuvenating. Waterfalls come in many different sizes and can include tiers. You can also adjust the water speed to create either a soft flow or a pounding cascade.
A Wall of Water
Also called weeping walls, these walls add both elegance and simplicity. Here’s how it works: water is pumped through copper pipes in the wall and then dispersed from a perforated pipe at the top. Water then spills down, creating a soft trickling sound. Walls can be made out of brick or quartzite. Try a water wall that flows into your water garden on one end.
The Fountain of Youth
Consider adding fountains around the edges of your water garden. If properly placed and made of a design that blends in well with the landscape, fountains can add a lot of character. You may also want to consider adding a raised fountain in the middle of the garden. Cascading fountains attract many types of birds, making an attractive and ever-changing focal point. Fountains can be made out of many materials, including stone, rock, and ceramic materials.
Shining Through the Darkness
There are many different types of lights you can add to your water garden, making nighttime viewing a new and exciting experience. Try placing low-wattage lights both in and around your pond. You can use these to backlight bog plants, highlight pond flowers such as lilies, or draw attention to waterfalls or fountains. Try something simple first, such as a small 12-volt system. In no time, you’ll be yearning for an elaborate fiber optic system with colored lights.
The Bridge to Paradise
If you want to create an extremely interactive water garden, consider adding a bridge. Not only will this add character to the landscape, but it will also help others to interact with your garden and get up close and personal. Some suggestions for bridges include bridges on the side of the pond that are the length of the water and bridges which are built directly over the water garden.
The Great Aquatic Investment
Of course, your water garden will contain both fish and aquatic plants. But if you want a truly inspirational garden, consider investing in some of the higher quality options. Koi, rather than goldfish, are remarkably large and colorful fish. Changeable water lilies are a type of water lily that changes hues over their bloom life. Pair bloom colors with fish colors and your garden will look well-integrated and mesmerizing.
There are some unassuming objects that you can integrate into your water garden. For example, use an urn as a fountain, or create a birdbath out of a fun vase. Consider adding items to your garden area that enhance its beauty, rather than cause distraction. Choose materials in colors that blend into the landscape, such as greens and yellows.
Water and Watering
Organic gardeners can cut back substantially on their overall water use through sensible strategies and plant choices.
Water conservation, storage, and recycling are essential strategies for organic gardeners. Organically based practices of soil management and plant choice can minimize the use of water in the garden and aide in times of drought.
Water shortage can drastically affect your garden long before obvious symptoms present themselves. wilting and other signs of stress can show much later than other effects such as overall growth performance.
Excess water also has negative effects on a garden. Overly wet soil warms much more slowly and leaves plants susceptible to disease. When the soil is filled with water oxygen is driven out and can lead to the death of root systems.
Using Water Garden Wisely
The requirements for water vary widely depending on the type of plant as well as its age. Seedlings are dependent on larger quantities of water during the early stages of their development, flowering plants may require water at specific times to encourage flower and seed development.
The most effective time for watering most plants is in the early morning or evening. The air and soil are both cool and less water will be lost due to evaporation.
Water is best directed at the root systems of plants avoiding the leaves. excess water film on plants leaves them susceptible to disease.
Types of Water
Mains water is clean and freely accessible in most gardens, however, chemicals such as chlorine in tap water can be harmful to the soil and damage delicate plants. Mains water also tends to have a high pH level which will affect intolerant plants.
Rainwater is generally clean, free of contaminants, and has a low pH which makes it ideal for the organic garden. Rainwater can also be collected and stored relatively easily for later use in dry weather. Gutters and drainpipes can collect substantial amounts in times of rain and large-capacity tanks are capable of holding large amounts of water for use in lean times.
Greywater is usually defined as household wastewater, excluding sewage. Greywater can be beneficial to your garden proving it isn’t overly contaminated with soaps and detergents. For example, wastewater from dishwashers is normally unacceptable as it contains high levels of detergents. Water from the bath or shower is more suitable proving contaminants such as bath oils and bubble baths are kept low.
Greywater should not be used on plants grown for consumption and should also be rotated through your garden to avoid build-ups of materials in the soil.