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Pond in a pot

By Sereba Agiobu-Kemmer   |   18 February 2017   |   2:04 am

If you are of those who got live plants as Valentine’s Day present, now you must be wondering how to keep them growing or from dying. You were delighted to receive your plant gift, deriving much, pleasure because you really love plants and to have them around, as they are beautiful and brighten up your space. The only draw back-you dont like planting with soil-you think all that gardening with soil is messy and dirty stuff and you have an aversion for dirt. Well there’s good news for you. You can keep all those Valentine’s Day’s plants growing in containers filled with water. Growing houseplants in water is similar to hydroponic farming.

This method for growing plants is not only low maintenance, but disease and pest resistant. Many plants grow easily in water which is an often used method of propagation as well, with some people choosing to root houseplants in bottles or recycled containers. Growing plants in water is an alternative for those who are plant watering-challenged, and for those with limited space. Growing plants in water allows you more flexibility in arrangement.

In indoor the water garden may be no more than just a small receptacle that holds a single plant which is easy to create and maintain, to a collection of clippings from existing houseplants into glass bottles and jars placed in every available space is most popular, because it is easy to create and maintain and it’s cost virtually nothing! Growing plants in water is an easier way to initiate the novice into gardening and a great activity to involve the kids. An indoor water garden can be created using almost any container that will hold water, whether it’s for ornamental houseplants or herbs for the kitchen. Even those with holes can be plugged with inexpensive corks, wax or lined with a water proofing material like flexible PVC liner to makes the container watertight.

It’s no surprise that you’ll need a pot that holds water. Be creative when selecting your containers. For healthy plant growth, each water garden container must be able to hold enough water to cover each plant to its preferred depth. A mix of container sizes and plantings configurations can be used in your selection. Just like in soil or other gardening pot arrangement use various sizes, shapes and colors of containers to make your own personal style. Whatever plant you use, try to keep them in scale with the container.

There are no strict rules to follow just aim for a plant and container combination that looks harmonious and proportionate. The size of your pot and plant depend upon the size of your space and strength of what it is being placed on, if it can carry the weight. However one small water plant in a corresponding decorative pot can invite harmony. Many containers are made of ceramic, glass, perspex, porcelain, plastic, terracotta etc. The exceptions are those of metal like copper, brass or lead. Metals corrode when reacting to fertilizers and cause plant damage. Choose containers with interiors that are dark or opaque in color. Dark green, charcoal or black colors are suggested because they discourage algae growth, and make algae less obvious when it present.

Once you have picked the appropriate container three-quarters full with florist’s foam, styrofoam, gravel, pearl chips, sand, marbles, beads or similar materials that one can imagine. Add a pinch of powdered or a piece of charcoal to keep the water clear and clean and not smelling. Water plants grow quickly, but even so, you can encourage them by using fertilizer. Mix together a diluted concoction of water-soluble fertilizer in the amount of one quarter the manufacturer’s recommendation. Now that you have created diluted liquid fertilizer and ascertained that our plant will grow in a combination of this solution and water, now is the time to put your Valentine gift of ‘Lucky bamboo’ and others for water planting as you have created the appropriate environment for growing plants in water and your indoor garden will remain lush.

Many plants are good for water culture; plants especially creeping plants are easiest to grow from cuttings like: the Wandering Jew, Pothos “Wax Plant,” Philodendron, Ivy, Moses-in-a-Cradle (Rhoeo) Chinese Evergreens (Aglaomenas) Dumbcane (Dieffenbachia); Arrowheads (Sagittarian sp.) Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor) horsetail and yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus), Dwarf Papyrus (Cyperus Isocladus), aquatic Canna, Calla lilies, aquatic mint (Menthe aquatic), Lizard tail, parrot feather (mymophyllum aquaticum) , Cork Screw Rush (Juncus effusus), Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipe) and Water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) help reduce algae in the water garden. Several of the smaller miniature Lotus and Water lilies do well in containers and can be planted in tabletop bowls. They add both color and fragrance, also dramatic touch to the water garden. While all mentioned will tolerate sun to partial shade, water hyacinth, lotus and water lilies prefer full sun. Rooted plants can be used as well. In using rooted plants, wash all the soil completely off the roots of the ‘soon to be indoor water garden plant’ and cut off any decayed or dead leaves or stems. Place the plant in the water/fertilizer solution. You may have to top up solution occasionally due to the plant use of water and nutrients it contains and evaporation. Also look out for algae. Replace the nutrient solution in it entirety in the indoor garden every four to six weeks.

As already mentioned to stop algae growth; use a dark or opaque container. However should algae pose a problem, change the solution more frequently. The term ‘water garden container’ describes a pot if it holds an underwater plant or a floater. A single plant in a small pot is as attractive as the larger container that holds many plants, fish and fountains. Larger pots can be planted with several types of plants all growing together in the container. A mixed aquatic container can have the same style as many terrestrial potted arrangements, an arrangement that is easily changed as the plants grow or as the gardener decides to rearrange it. Plants planted rooting in water, may start slower than those in soil. But once encouraged by the fertilizing nutrient solution they will grow rapidly. If the plants seem too robust, limit their growth by keeping them in small pots and cutting off the oldest and tallest plant. It’s easy to also take a few out and replant in new pots, the wonderful bonus of dividing is that you now have free plants in which to create another dazzling “pond in a pot”. The most pleasing container water gardens are created by mixing both horizontal and vertical growing plants. Short and tall varieties simply make the display more vibrant and dynamic, contrastive shapes, colors and sizes, the more contrast, the better. Water in a container or basin is a thing of beauty. It is flickering reflections are welcome presence in any garden. But dressing it up with plants transport the design to a whole new dimension. Try not to over crowd your container, keep the arrangement from appearing over crowded. A bit of water space and the simplicity of just a few plants lend itself to a peaceful and beautiful container, an idea that is behind the water garden.

You will discover as much great delight in designing water gardens for small containers as exciting as the vast watery canvas of a botanical garden. In fact the small container water gardens are better as they allow you get close enough to really appreciate the intriguing foliage, their spectacular flowers and their sometimes vibrant fragrance. They are foolproof too. If you end up with a design you don’t like; it’s easy to rearrange the plants. And the plants are tough-most are almost hard to kill and virtually require no maintenance. All you need is a spot that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight a day, something that holds water, and a few plants.

The small container water garden can be an endless source of inspiration. Water in a garden of any size creates an oasis not only for you but also for (wildlife) birds, butterflies, dragonflies, and even small fish. Container water gardens are sometimes referred to as “still pots’ which nestle nicely in small spaces such as balconies, verandas, on patios, they can also be tucked into small nooks and crannies in spacious gardens. All that’s needed is a small non-draining, non-porous container and a few “water” plants.

Maintenance
Once your container water garden has been planted, caring for it is a simple matter. If plants don’t seem to be thriving, more likely the problem is not enough light. The solution, move the container to a brighter spot. There are few chores in maintenance of a healthy container water garden, but non will keep you busy. Adding water solution from time to time, keeping a look out for algae, preventing mosquitoes from using the little garden as a breeding place. Algae needs light and nutrients to thrive, so keep some floaters on the surface to cut down on light, carefully limit the amount of fertilizer you use, and include some submerged plants, which compete with algae. To prevent mosquitoes and insects breeding in container, you might wash the larvae out by overfilling your container with water or add few mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis), voracious eaters that feed on mosquito larvae.

These few things you have to do are incredibly small- when you think of it- there’s no ground to till, no weeds to fight, no need for compost or to add mulch. Aquatic plants and water: seems that’s all it takes really to create a successful water garden in a container or pot. Sounds good. Can you think of a more ideal way to garden?




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