How to Plant a Water Garden

For the urban setting, often a soothing and relaxing water feature is not practical. However, this is not to suggest that a small water garden for your patio, porch or deck is not an option. A small water garden can be created from a small pot or planter, or any type of bowl that can hold water. This method will give you a charming water feature, as well as a soothing and beautiful touch!

Aquatic planting is similar to other types of gardening. These plants will need proper soil conditions, the proper fertility, proper care, and the right container. The difference is that the plants will be grown in water. With this type of planting, you need to consider water depth, temperature, and how to care for this garden over the winter.

Depending on the plants you choose, the soil type may change. For water plants like water lilies and lotus, they should be planted in a heavy clay loam soil. These will give your plants proper nutrients to grow. This soil is a los dense and heavy, and unlike artificial and commercial potting mixes, they will sink in the water.

The container you choose should reflect the size of the water garden you want to create. The size of the container will determine the size of the garden and the plants you can add. For water lily growth, a container that measures about 10 inches deep and 15 inches in diameter works well. For other types of plants, containers ranging from six inches to 20 inches are suitable. The right choice will depend upon the plants you choose to plant, small plants can grow in smaller containers, while larger plants can grow in larger pots.

When you are ready to plant, fill the container about two-thirds full with damp soil. For water lilies place the rhizome, so that the growing point is directed at the cent in a slight angle. The growing point is determined by finding little “eye’s” like those on a potato. Planting this way allows the lily to grow across the pot. The rhizome should then be covered with soil to the point that the growing point is just right above soil level.

Tropical water lilies and lotus are planted in much the same way, except they should be planted directly in the center of the container. The lotus rhizomes are very brittle, so they have to be handled very carefully. Lotus also is a great choice for a large container, and should be planted in 2-4 inches of soil.

A good method to planting aquatic plants is to fill the container with soil, then damped it, and then presses the roots of the plant into the muddy soil. At this point, cover the soil with ½ to ¾ inch layer of pea gravel. This is key to keeping the soil from clouding up the water. It will also prevent any fish from digging into the soil.

Most hardy water lilies like to have 12-18 inches of water depth. Place the plant at an initial depth of 6 inches, and then lower it to its proper depth. The lotus prefers to be grown at 4-6 inches of water, and the tropical lilies like depths of 12 inches. If your pot is in full sun, be sure to check the water levels often to make sure they are correct for the plant to grow. If the plant is in the shade however, make sure the container is not too full so that the growing tip will still receive sunlight.