everybody into the pool, er, pots

water-potAT MY PLACE EVERY MANNER OF PLANT CAN GO IN POTS: annuals, perennials, young trees, shrubs. And some of the things in pots go, pot and all, into the water. How about we take a swim?

I love the look of giant leaves of aroids like Colocasia (shown) and Alocasia looming over the surface of my various water gardens, but always found the “planting” of them difficult: Everybody always wanted to set themselves free and float to the surface, even if I set rocks inside their rims. Naughty babies. So here’s what I do:

First, I hold the plant, black plastic nursery pot and all, under water until it stops bubbling and is fully soaked. Then I simply stuff it, black nursery pot and all, into the heaviest terra cotta pots I have that they barely fit into. (Again, stuff is the operative word, so tight they cannot get loose.) Not your basic flower pots, but the heavy-duty kind, with thicker walls, usually made of slightly coarser clay like those from Impruneta, Italy, or thereabouts.

And next I just lower the whole thing into place in the water trough or pool or pond it’s meant for, sometimes setting it on top of a shelf made from bricks and slates to get it to the right level. (Want to hide the glimpses of the pot rims from view, like you can see in my photo? Dye the water black with fish-safe dye, which also limits sunlight penetration and therefore helps thwart algae buildup.) If you think big-leaved beauties like taro grow well in the ground, you should see them on a steady water diet.

  1. Kitt says:

    Water features are great! BUT … they also can be mosquito factories if the water is not moving.

    You can buy mosquito dunks, which are made of the natural pest control BT. They can be broken into small pieces. A small circulating fountain pump also works great, and sounds nice, too!

    I made a fountain out of a giant ceramic pot lined with a plastic one (I sealed the bottom holes with rubber corks and Marine Goop, except for one without goop for draining). It holds three or four good sized water plants and the fountain makes a lovely splashing sound.

  2. Joy says:

    What is it about water features that absolutely make us fall in love with them .. TYhat one is a wonderful treat !

  3. mss @ Zanthan Gardens says:

    Thanks. This is a very timely post for me. I’m new to pond gardening and I was wondering how to get those Colocasias planted.

  4. ideawayretreat says:

    Thank you . I noticed the black dyed water at Longwood Gardens gave a most dramatic and stunning effect to the plantings . Wish me luck. Will try this technique in a little bog area near the end of my driveway.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, ideawayretreat. No luck required; just don’t get it on you or any surface (the concentrated dye powder, I mean). Follow the instructions and you will have magical black water. :) See you soon.

  5. Terryk says:

    I was at your talk last eveing at the Chappaqua Library and you showed that oval pot filled with the green low growing plant. Of course I did not catch the name of this plant, can you tell me what it is?

    1. Margaret says:

      @Terryk: The floating plant in the water-filled oval trough is Azolla. I get it from a fish and water-garden supply place by mail each spring.

  6. Terryk says:

    Thanks Margaret. I’m off to track that down.

    I found Senneca Hills has Hylomecon-japonica so those are ordered. Thanks for showing us that one in your lecture.

    I also saw her Helleborus-niger-Thanksgiving-bloom which Ellen says blooms reliably for her at Thanksgiving. I figure if it does that up her way, it’s worth a try down my way in Putnam Valley.

    Have a good weekend!

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