Wednesday, October 19, 2011
How to Grow Water Lettuce
The Pond Plant Girl
Growing Water Lettuce
There are 2 types of water lettuce, Ruffled and Jurassic (also called the Amazon and the African). The Jurassic grow very large (as in the picture) and the ruffled is a smaller water lettuce with ruffled edges.
Water Depth and Quality: Water lettuce grows best in shallow non-moving water that is 1-2 feet deep. Although they are a free floating pond plant, they grow nice and large when their roots can reach down to the soil below and feed on the nutrients in the soil. The water pH should be 6 or 7.
Plant Maintenance: Caring for water lettuce in the warm spring through fall seasons is fairly easy. Cut back any decaying leaves. If you end up with a bounty of water lettuce, DO NOT toss it in a public waterway. There is a HUGE fine for plants dumped into public lakes, rivers, creeks, and streams. Water lettuce is a natural mulch. Instead, simply toss the extra plants in either a mulch pile or pile up under fruit trees. Your plants will LOVE you for it because the water lettuce contains fish emulsion that was absorbed while in the pond.
Hot and Cold Seasons
Summer Sun: Water lettuce normally thrives in any climate during the summertime. However, in very hot and desert climates the intense heat of the sun can fry the plants. I am located in zone 9 where it gets up to 115 degrees. The water lettuce that grew the best were the ones that received morning to noon sun.
Wintry Conditions: Frost is a killer. When water lettuce freezes it does not recover. When there is a threat of frost or freeze, water lettuce should be covered or brought indoors. However, remember that they do need sunshine during the day.
Water Lettuce Enemies
Mildew: It is wise to cover your pond to protect the water and plants from freezing. However, covering your pond will also promote mold and mildew growth on your water lettuce plants. This is also a killer and your water lettuce will simply rot away. If you plan to winter over your water lettuce. An indoor water garden lightbox is a good choice, or install a fan to circulate the air and keep the mildew away.
Aphids: It is also wise to "water" your pond plants each day, even though they grow in water. Bugs such as aphids will attach to your plants. By watering down your water garden each day, this will wash the bugs away and give the fish a little treat too.