Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
May, 2005
Regional Report

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A pot fountain provides the sound of music in the garden.

Water Beautifies the Garden

Whether in a pond, sprinkler, fountain, or waterfall, water beautifies the garden. Glimmering surfaces and ripples offer visual delight as they catch the sun's sparks. Drips and rivulets provide musical pleasures. Plants that love water enable the gardener to enjoy even more kinds of foliage and blooms. Small or large, the magic of water gardening is achievable by everyone.

Even our concerns about mosquitoes and West Nile Virus are easily alleviated. One way is to keep the water moving slowly. For still water in containers and ponds, add Mosquito Dunks (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) every 30 days. For a container or pond under 5 square feet, only one-fourth of a dunk is needed. Available at most nurseries at $10 for six dunks, this is an inexpensive way to assure enjoyment of your water garden!

For most blooming water plants but especially water lilies, choose a site that gets at least 6 hours of direct sun daily. If you want a waterfall or fountain, have it splatter somewhat gently, since most water plants prefer still water. Some plants enjoy lots of water but not actually being in the water, so these will make good transition plants just outside the actual pond or container to catch the spillover.
Underwater plants are good natural filters that absorb excess nitrogen.

Fish and other underwater critters like freshwater clams and black Japanese or trapdoor snails help keep the water clear. Goldfish and koi also enliven the pond with their color and movement, and they eat mosquito larvae, as well. With fish, you will need a recirculating pump to oxygenate the water.

Clean out the pond every year or so to clear out accumulated leaves and assorted gunk. After refilling, let the water sit for a couple of days to allow the chlorine to evaporate before replacing plants and fish.

Plants to Try
Some plants for the moist soil in a bog, at the edge of a pond, or in up to 6 inches of water include: bergenia (Bergenia cordifolia), blue flag (Iris versicolor), Japanese iris (I. ensata), red iris (I. fulva), yellow flag (I. pseudacorus), sweet flag (Acorus calamus), calla lily (Zandedeschia), fiber optics plant (Scirpus cernuus), horsetail (Equisetum hyemale), Houttuynia cordata, Louisiana iris, marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata), primrose (Primula), rush (Juncus), Siberian iris, and spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana).

For deeper water up to 12 inches, consider: water clover (Marsilea), parrot's feather (Myriophyllus aquaticum)

Water lilies (Nymphaea) grow in up to 2 feet of water. Submerged plants include cabomba (Cabomba caroliniana), elodea (Elodea canadensis), and vallisneria (Vallisneria americana).

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