No room for a pond? Water lily breeder Pieter van der Walt of Aqua Flora shows you how to create a mini version in a container complete with water lilies. Here’s how to make a water garden in a container.
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WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- A waterproof container at least 30cm deep and 60cm in diameter
- Bricks or stones
- Water plants
Above: Nymphae, Juncus effusus, Dwarf papyrus
SUITABLE WATER PLANTS
- All water lilies (Nymphaea) will grow in a container. Some smaller varieties include Nymphaea ‘Perry’s Baby Red’ (deep red), N. ‘Walter Pagels’ (ivory) and N. ‘Helvola’ (yellow).
- Dwarf cattail (Typha minima)
- Dwarf papyrus (Cyperus prolifer)
- Morning star sedge (Carex grayi)
- Corkscrew rush (Juncus effusus ‘Spiralis’)
- Imperial taro (Colocasia antiquorum)
- Marsh lobelia (Lobelia anceps)
- Star grass (Dichromena colorata)
- Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia)
- Tape grass (Vallisneria spiralis) to oxygenate the water
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HOW TO DO IT
- Select a suitable container about 30–50cm deep with a diameter of at least 60cm without drainage holes. If your pot has holes, seal them with silicone sealant. Rinse the container to ensure it’s clean.
2. Place bricks in the bottom of the container for the water plants to stand on.
3. As water plants come ready planted in containers, leave them in these and position them to your satisfaction. We chose Nymphaea ‘Peace Lily’, N. ‘Colorado’ and Carex grayi, for a bit of height, and purple-flowering marsh lobelia.
4. Add an oxygenating plant such as Vallisneria spiralis below the surface to oxygenate the water and keep it clean.
5. Fill the container with water ensuring that the water lily’s flowers and leaves are just floating on the surface. Adjust the height with more bricks if necessary.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
- Place the container in an area that receives full sun or a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight a day.
- Keep the water topped up.
- Prune out dead leaves and excessive growth.
- Lift the plants in their containers and feed them with slow-release fertiliser sticks (just push them into the soil) or bonemeal (dig a hole in the soil, add the bonemeal and fill the hole with soil). Water lilies are greedy feeders and can be fertilised as often as once a month throughout summer to encourage repeat flowering.
- As water lilies are dormant in winter, replace them with Cape waterblommetjies (Aponogeton distachyos) in the cooler months for year-round interest.