Wonderful water plants make a splash!
Our plant focus this month is water plants and I have to admit, I have always loved the idea of having a pond. My dream garden would most definitely contain a large pond filled with fish and buzzing with wildlife – reeds and rushes would frame its edges, water lillies would float on the top and a weeping willow would droop lazily into the water. Sadly a dream pond of my own has yet to come to fruition, but in my keenness to be ready for the day my wallet is as big as my dreams, I have come up with the following invaluable information and some plant choices for those of you lucky enough to have a garden pond already.
Water plants are essential for the health of your pond. They can ensure that the water balance is correct and the plant foliage is fabulous at absorbing carbon dioxide and minerals from the water – this helps keep algae at bay. Choose the right plants and your pond will be aesthetically beautiful as well as providing a breeding ground for dragonflies, fish, frogs and spawn. There are four different groups of pond plants; oxygenators, floaters, marginals and deep water aquatics. Each group is equally important to the wellbeing of your pond.
- Oxygenators are normally completely submerged. Water milfoil is very effective in a small pond or try Willow moss which is evergreen, slow growing and effective.
- Floaters or free floating plants have roots that dangle in the water as they float around on the water surface. Floaters include frog-bit, water lettuce and water soldier. Water hyacinth is a flowering floater but it needs a good summer to flower. Avoid Duck-Weed as it can be invasive.
- Marginal plants grow at the edge of the pond in shallow water. Marginals are normally planted in baskets using aquatic compost. Try Typhus Minimus or Hippuris vulgaris (mares tail).
- Deep water aquatics have their foliage above the water surface but have roots that are in water of at least 45cm deep. Water hawthorn (aponogeton) is scented, long flowering and will tolerate moving water and some shade.
Our plant choice this month is Acorus Calamus, commonly known as Sweet Flag. Sweet Flag belongs to the marginal group, which means it likes to grow in shallow water. The plant has an inexhaustible list of uses and interesting facts. The roots or rhizomes have been used as an aphrodisiac in ancient Egypt and in India for more than 2,500 years. It is also used in homeopathic medicine to treat digestive disorders. In the 17th century Sweet flag was used by perfumers and makers of powdered wigs. Later, Benedictine and Chartreuse liqueurs were flavoured with the root, as well as many liqueurs, beers, bitters, tonics and gin. It is said to be one of the ingredients of the original Dr Pepper and one of the key ingredients in the infamous Absinthe!
Acorus Calamus will grow well in full sun. Its flowers are spike-like and fairly insignificant but this plant is grown for its zesty and fragrant foliage. This plant will reach a height of about 4 feet. Be sure to divide plants every 3 to 4 years to avoid congestion.
So, If you’re looking for a plant that can aid digestion, help your love life and make your garden more beautiful – Acorus Calamus is your man!