Buying Water Garden Plants
Buying Water Garden Plants
Although aquatic plants grow very quickly and a weedy specimen can often be transformed into a lusty grower, it is far more sensible to look for good-quality plants from the outset. The best way to ensure good quality is to visit a specialist aquatic plant supplier or a garden centre where there is an aquatics department with dedicated staff. Aquatics are a mystery to many general garden retailers, and a lot of heartache can be bought if you are unlucky enough to patronize one where the stock is questionable and the staff know little.
THE PLANTING SEASON
The planting season for aquatics extends from spring until late summer, the second half of the season being less satisfactory than the early part. Later plantings do not establish quite as quickly as those planted during the spring, the plants usually being of poorer quality, especially if they have been in a sales tank since the beginning of the season. Here, they will quite possibly have been mauled by potential buyers, tipped over and generally abused, their growth being stunted by the constraints of a sales container. Of course, this scenario is by no means universal, but it is fairly typical of many non-specialist aquatic suppliers.
Wholesale plant suppliers often force some of the slower growing varieties by placing them in polythene tunnels. The plants sprout vigorously and look excellent in the sales tanks in the nursery or garden centre, but once taken home to your pond, they will soon become sad and jaded. The shock of the change of, from warm tunnel to outdoors, will cause them to be badly checked. Rarely will they die, but often it will be the regrowth that provides a summer display, rather than the soft sappy foliage produced by forcing. There is really no advantage to purchasing plants that have been treated in this manner.
It is not always easy to identify aquatic plants that have been forced, but there is one group of aquatics that cannot possibly be leafy saleable specimens at the beginning of the season. It is their nature to be late developers. The group includes both the rushestabernaemontani Albescens’. and Schoenoplectus lacustris tabernaemontani ‘Zebrinus’, all the arrowheads, (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae), ( ) and ( ). You will have to wait until early summer for all of these species if you wish to produce naturally developed plants.
RECOGNIZING A GOOD PLANT
It is more difficult to recognize a good aquatic plant than a tree or shrub. Unlike woody plants, aquatics have no structure until well developed during the summer, and then it is not permanent. However, you should be able to tell whether a plant is a good one by its vigour and general.
The main criteria when choosing aquatics are health and vigour, plus an ability to recognize that you have been sold the correct plant. The last can he a major problem, for general retailers are often unfamiliar with aquatics, and common, sometimes misleading, names are rife.
One of the most critical areas of confusion is between pondlilies and waterlilies. The former are the vigorous and often, in their juvenile stage, more attractive nenuphars. These are not suitable, except for the bleakest and shadiest of ponds. They produce rampant leaves and small yellow flowers, and are not at all what the gardener expects of a waterlily. To obtain the true waterlily, nymphaea must be purchased. Nymphaeas are often slow to start into growth and rarely look as appealing as a nenuphar, but they come up trumps in the end.
When choosing a waterlily, make sure that it will suit the depth of water in your pool and be of compatible spread. It is always difficult to be certain that you are obtaining the correct variety, but if you are paying a fair price for a plant, there is a very good chance that it will be true to type. Be very suspicious of cheap waterlilies; there is no such thing. For the most part, you get what you pay for.
All aquatic plants should look bright and lively when you buy them. There should be no evidence of the black clusteringor the small grubs of the . Thin cigar-like cylinders of jelly, which may be found -attached to all manner of waterlily plants, are not fish spawn, but the eggs of the troublesome greater . This will eat waterlilies and other floating foliage in preference to algae. It is safe to buy plants that bear these snail eggs, but you must remove them before you put the plants in your pond.
If you buy plants bare-rooted, rather than those that are growing in a container, make sure the rootstock is solid. This is very important with waterlilies. A soft waterlily rootstock is not only likely to die, but also may spread infection throughout your pond. Submerged aquatic plants should always be fresh. Avoid any that have remained in a tank and become heated and faded.