Water Gardens & Features Q & A
Q: I’ve had many people tell me to add water hyacinth to my water garden. I heard they spread like wildfire and can take over my water garden. What’s so great about them? – Tiffany of West Virginia
A: Water hyacinth, especially in water gardens, are a useful tool when trying to create a balanced ecosystem. Water hyacinth are simple to use and perform many functions in a water garden such as: great for filtration, compete with algae for nutrients and provides shade and shelter. I know many of our readers may not agree with this so let’s explain some of the cons first.
Many southern states have restricted water hyacinth because of its aggressive growth. They clog waterways and choke out native plants. In these areas other plant types can be used. Bogs can be planted with marginal/bog plants to maintain the water body that are not as aggressive. Water lilies can be utilized for shelter and shade. If you are in the northern climates, water hyacinth still spread quickly but they cannot survive the cold harsh winter.
So Why Use Water Hyacinth Anyway?
- Easy to Plant: Water hyacinth are one of the most simple plants to add to your water garden. Simply drop them in and enjoy. You can place them in your waterfall filter, calm areas in the pond or any place where there is at least a few inches of water.
- Shelter: Water hyacinth float on the water’s surface covering the pond and shading it from the sun keeping the water cooler. The root systems also provide hiding places for your baby fish as well as cover in general against predators.
- Filtration Capacity: Water hyacinth have large root systems that can stretch 10 or more inches. Each of these individual roots have thousands of root hairs which increase the roots surface area. We know from our filter systems that the main reason they work so well is the large amount of surface area for bacteria to grow on. Multiply that by numerous water hyacinth and you have instantly doubled or even tripled your filtration capacity.
- Compete with Algae: Since water hyacinth are prolific growers, they compete with algae for the same food source, thus keeping your water garden balanced and looking good all year.
- Looks: Water hyacinth are nice too look at. Foliage is green all season and purple flowers form through out the year as well.
- Easy to Remove: If water hyacinth get out of control in your water garden, don’t worry, they are extremely easy to remove with a pond net.
With so many benefits, in the right conditions, water hyacinth are a great renewable resource.
POND TALK: Do you plant water hyacinth in your water garden? Tell us what you think about water hyacinth.