Monday, March 9, 2015

You Can Create a Lotus Container Garden

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Where Does Water Lotus Grow?
Water Lotus can grow in any climate, from very hot and dry climates to arctic climates.  It grows well in ponds both large and small, and in small container ponds too.  Unlike waterlily, water lotus is easy to grow from seed.  

Water Temperature
Understanding this sacred plant is the first step in being successful with having a beautiful lotus garden.  If growing from seed, the water temperature outdoors must be over 60 degrees F.  The ideal temperature to grow lotus successfully is 75 degrees.  So the key to successful lotus growing is to make sure the water does not freeze solid in winter and that the water does not get so hot in summer that it cooks the plants.  This can happen if the lotus is planted in a small container in full sun. If the water is too cold, the use of an aquarium heater is generally not successful.
How to Get Started
You will need:

  • Location: A sunny outdoor location.  Lotus do not grow well indoors. Lotus grown in severe hot climates grow well in filtered light, such as under a shade tree. 
  • Lotus Plant: A lotus root called a rhizome.  I have water lotus available for sale on my website.
  • Container: A large round plastic container that is at least 2' feet across and at least 12" inches deep. A wine or whiskey barrel is perfect as long as it has a plastic liner.  You can also purchase a resin wine barrel which does not need a liner.  There are also large plastic terracotta pots.  A ceramic terracotta pot may work as long as it holds water well.
  • Fertilizer:  Highland Rim Aquatic plant fertilizer and a bag of bone meal
  • Planting Media: Clay is best.  I have also been successful with river sand
  • 1 bag Pea Gravel (optional)
  • Non-Chlorinated Water.  If your water is high in iron (such as many Arizona locations or those on well water) you will need to treat the water first
  • Water Thermometer
  • Fish:  Gold Fish or Mosquito Minnows
Planting Your Water Lotus

  • Fertilizer: Place 2 Fertilizer tabs and 1 tablespoon bone meal at the bottom of container.
  • Planting Media: Fill the the bottom of container with about 2"-3" inches of good garden soil with a low organic content; either sandy soil or clay.  A mix of clay and sand is ideal. 
  • Do not use a commercial house plant or garden mix, as the ingredients float.  
  • Water Lotus: Place lotus rhizome on top of the soil and against the side of the container
  • Planting Media: Cover lotus with the rest of the soil media, about 4" to 6" inches.  If using sand, a layer of pea gravel over the very top of the soil may be necessary to prevent the lotus rhizome from surfacing.
  • Fertilize once per month with aquatic plant fertilizer and bone meal during the growing season.  Keep in mind that cheap or inexpensive fertilizer will produce poor results. Push the fertilizer and bone meal down near the bottom of the container. The bone meal can be inserted down into the soil by wrapping it first in a paper towel or a piece of newspaper.  
  • DO NOT FERTILIZE YOUNG SEEDLINGS:  Fertilizer will burn young lotus seedlings. If growing from seed, make sure your young plants have at least 2 mature leaves that are at least 5" inches wide.
  • Fish:  Remember to add small fish such as feeder goldfish or mosquito minnows for mosquito control. Koi is not recommended as they may destroy your plants.  I do not recommend feeding your fish.  Feeding the fish will cause excess waste in the water as well as increased algae problems.  The fish will have plenty to eat with the small bugs that naturally fall into the water. 

Enjoy your garden!  The next article will be about lotus care during the growing season and how to winter over your lotus plant at the end of the season.
Garden Blessings, 
Gail the Pond Plant Girl

Friday, June 13, 2014

Purchasing Bare Root vs. Potted

One of the drawbacks with purchasing online is that plants that are shipped bare root often struggle to survive and establish. Although potted plants may cost twice as much, you will also receive a plant that is twice as large.  It will also be hardier and easier to establish into its new garden environment.  Small plants such as parrot feather and anacharis are always shipped bare root, but plants such as tall uprights (such as elephant ear and water iris) are shipped either potted or bare root.  Bottom line is that it all depends on the weather, climate, and your own comfort level whether you should choose a bare root plant or a potted plant.  Most plants sold in my eBay store are bare root, but I all plants sold in my website store will arrive potted.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sunburned Pond Plants

Sunburned Pond Plants 
Some plants grow well in full sun, while the same plant may grow better in part sun in a different region. Sometimes it depends on the plant maturity. Younger plants are more vulnerable to plant burn than a mature pond plants. Water Lotus, for example, grows better in part sun when it is a seedling. Plants with dark colored leaves oftentimes get sun burned, such as this Australia Water Canna. After I moved mine into part sun, it grew great and even produced flowers.

Shade Cloth:  Another option for hot dry climates is to hang a nursery shade cloth over the pond.  The ones sold at the hardware store are 75% shade, which is too shady.  Shade cloth for plants should be 30%-40% shade and can be purchased online.  Not only will it protect your plants from sunburn, but it will protect your fish from predatory birds and will help reduce algae growth as well. 

So if your pond plants are starting to look brown and shabby, try moving them into a more sheltered part of your garden or hang a shade cloth overhead. It might be all you need.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

How to Pot Water Lily

The Pond Plant Girl Store

Water Lily Planting Instructions
Water Lily is easier to grow than most may think. An important rule to remember before planting any aquatic plants is that large fish (such as koi) and turtles will destroy your plants and eat them down to a nub. Therefore, water lily and other pond plants must be protected from destructive pond life. Water depth may be 18 inches to 5 feet deep. The prime depth for water lily is 2 feet deep. For best flowers, full sunshine is a must.

Natural Earthen Ponds: If planting in a natural earthen pond straight into the ground under the water, pot your lily in a biodegradable container, such as a cow pot. See . The water level should never go below 18” deep. So, if planting in a natural earthen pond, be certain to plant at a level where the water will still be deep in the summertime. Pot your lily and simply drop it into the water. Even if the water is 5 feet deep, the lily will continue to grow until it reaches the water surface.

Container Ponds and Water Gardens
Pot your water lily in a 1 or 2 gallon no-holes container. Place aquatic fertilizer at the bottom of the container and fill container with loam. The crown of the lily may be slightly exposed. Tropical Water Lily must be planted at the edge of the pot with the growing tip pointing toward the center of the pot. A slight 45° is recommended (slight angle) but is not an exact science. So, do not worry about exact measurements. Hardy lily may be planted at the center of the pot. If you are not sure if you have tropical or hardy, a good rule is to plant your lily tuber at the edge of the pot like a tropical water lily.

Over Wintering Tropical Water LilyIf you are in a cold region where your pond freezes solid, it is best to over winter your tropical water lily indoors. Here is a link from my water garden expert and friend that will help you succeed:

Potting LoamA perfect recipe for potting loam is 1 part decomposed granite (DG) and 1 part bagged steer manure. Keep in mind that water lily are big feeders. However, too much fertilizer or too much steer manure and the lily plant will expel the unneeded nutrients in the water; which may cause added algae growth. DG can be purchased at any sand and gravel yard. I do not recommend purchasing bagged aquatic plant medium. It is far too expensive and is also too light weight and will make a mess. If you do not have access to DG, I am happy to ship it to you at cost in a flat rate mailer.

Growing Large Lilies
To produce large lily plants and large flowers you must have a pond that is at least 3 feet deep. Use a dark colored 20 gallon Rubbermaid tub (such as black or dark blue). Place a generous amount of fertilizer at the bottom of the container. Fill with potting loam and carefully sink down inside the pond. The pot will be very heavy. So, you will need 2 or 3 people to help sink a large potted lily.



Saturday, January 19, 2013

Pond Plant Girl Story and Fundraiser

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I first became interested in growing plants when I was a young girl helping my great grandmother out in the garden in Goleta, California, where she grew cherry tomatoes and strawberries.

Artichokes first caught my curiosity when a neighbor friend's brought home the alien looking vegetable from the store. Her entire family became very excited. Many years later (when I was married and living in Lompoc, California), we had a vegetable garden and grew artichokes all summer long. The entire family loved them.

When Pond Plants Found Me 
We moved to Northern California and lived on a piece of property that had a large 1/4 acre pond. In the summer of 1999 I decided I wanted to create a swimming hole, and I rowed our little boat out on the pond to pull out the aquatic weeds. The weeds grew back faster than I could pull them out, so I went online to find out what I had. It turned out to be anacharis, an aquatic fresh water grass that was valuable to koi ponds and water gardens. That summer I decided to sell the anacharis online and trade it for other pond plants. That was when I became hooked on water gardening and selling pond plants.

The Pond Plant Girl and Sweetheart Artichokes 
Since the summer of 1999 I started a small lucrative pond plant business online through eBay and through my personal website too. In 2007 we moved to Central California. I then decided to start growing artichoke plants again. Before long, I discovered that there were about a dozen different types of artichoke plants, and I wanted to grow them all. By trial and error, I learned how to grow and ship the artichoke plants.

The Pond Plant Girl Today 
Today, my online water garden and artichoke stores, videos, articles, and websites are very popular. On Youtube alone I have over 600,000 views. Last summer I was featured on Fox News National as "The Pond Plant Girl." This year I decided to quit my substitute teaching job with the county and focus primarily on my education and developing our home business. This was a bold move considering the down economic times. Despite thousands of businesses closing and the rising unemployment rate, my pond plant and artichoke plant businesses continue to grow each year. Economic analysts state this is due to families entertaining at home and growing their own organic foods in backyard gardens.

My plans for the future not only include growing our businesses and earning my doctoral degree, but also include giving back to the community.
  • I am involved with a community garden across town that will start up again Spring 2013.
  • I often donate plants to local schools and enjoy giving free lectures about gardening.
  • I also plan to create an outdoor classroom on my property where I will have free gardening and 4-H classes.
  • On a grander scale, I recently began supporting a community garden located in Kenhardt, South Africa.
  • And there may even be a PBS program in our future!

Funding a Dream 
Funds raised through are placed in an account in which are paid back within 2 years.
  With additional funding of $5,000 I will be able to operate and upgrade a professional nursery with a much needed professional size green house, and large shade cloth too. By growing the plants myself (instead of buying them) I will be able to increase my inventory and revenues by three fold. Most of my plants are purchased from a wholesale company. I grow most of the artichokes from seed but the greenhouse will allow me to speed production especially during the cold winter months. The shade cloth will also help keep all the plants safe from the burning sun in the summertime. In addition to the much needed supplies, I will also be able to add staffing of one full time and one part time employee; which will also increase production, inventory, and revenue.

I want to thank you for the opportunity to reach my dreams and goals. Our business and the community will be blessed by your guidance and support.

Garden Blessings,

Gail the Pond Plant Girl

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Water Canna

Water Canna is very easy to grow in all climates. The flowers and leaves come in a large variety of colors and patterns.  It will grow in a shallow pond or in the garden. Like most plants, it can take over the garden if it is not maintained. In most climates, canna will go dormant in winter and produce new shoots from the roots in the springtime. Like garden bulbs, it can be dug up in the fall, kept in storage, and then planted again in spring. In mild to hot climates, water canna can be left in-ground year round. If it is potted, I recommend using a five gallon container and dividing at least once per year. Water canna can grow in full sun to full shade. In extreme hot climates, partial sun is best to prevent burning. Water canna is not picky about soil media and fertilizer is not needed.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Getting Winter Ready

   The Pond Plant Girl

Get Ready in September
Whether you have a land garden or a water garden, September is the time to start preparing any garden for the upcoming winter. In many regions, winter does not fully set in until January or February. In other regions winter sets in as early as late September or early October. Although it may be warm during the day, night time temperatures can be a killer for valuable plants.

Tropical Plants
The first plants to begin with are the tropical plants. A garden friend in Ohio prepares his tropical banana plants by burying LED Christmas tree lights and cropping the plants down for the season. Then, he mulches over the pile to protect the ground from freezing. Tropical pond plants must be grown in a warm greenhouse or allowed to go dormant and placed in a black plastic garbage bag a[p nd put in cool storage safe from frost and freeze.

Greenhouse Growing
Last year I tried growing plants in my greenhouse and all my plants died. The ones kept outside and were allowed to go dormant came back in the springtime. So, greenhouse growing is a new animal to me and I am still learning. Raw Manure Heating Some growers lay down raw cow manure. Then build a raised bed to grow their winter crops. The manure keeps the vegetable bed warm for most of the season.

Hoop House Growing
Most of my ponds and vegetable gardens will be covered with hoop houses this year.  It is simply PVC pipe bent over and covered with durable plastic.  I’ve learned over the years that 6 mil plastic is superior over 4 mil plastic because it keeps in more heat. However, 6 mil plastic is not transparent. This year, I plan to use thick visqueen plastic from an online supplier. It is thick clear plastic sheeting that is used for insulating windows. In hard cold winter areas, I would suggest using 2 layers of visqueen with 1 inch bubble wrap insulation in between the sheets.

Greenhouse and Hoop house Circulation
When it comes to any type of greenhouse, air circulation is very important. This can be accomplished with a simple tabletop fan. Without air circulation, mold and mildew will develop on the plants; which will destroy your stock.

Fertilizing Plants
Winter is a time when the pond fish slow down and go somewhat dormant. This also means there is little fish excrement for growing pond plants. If you are keeping your water hyacinth and water lettuce plants through the winter, remember they will also need aquatic plant fertilizer at least one to two times per month.