Cleaning Plants to Place In a Water Garden
A water garden is fundamentally an aquarium, where the gardener needs to manage the pH, nutrients and organisms introduced into the system Just because a plant or animal is invasive doesn't mean it can't be ordered, delivered to your door or purchased locally.
The plants we are looking at are water hyacinth water and water lettuce Some plants or animals you will introduce to the system others will introduce themselves.
While holding plants the plants in this pan this green frog moved into this small water feature.
This will probably happen in your water garden, too.
Water hyacinth and water lettuce are considered invasive because of their ability to grow rapidly and form dense mats on the water surface.
They are a problem further south in Texas, Florida, and the Carolinas although they have been found as far north as Tonawanda, NY The plants I have were purchased from a local nursery with no tags or genus-species designation.
These plants were floating in a large pan lifted out, and placed into a plastic bag.
They did not come alone, you can see things in the bottom of the pan Some duckweed accompanied the order.
There is a non-native duckweed that we don't want to spread, but you may not want to introduce the native duckweed into your garden, either.
Unwelcome hitchhikers may also accompany your mail-order purchase, most of which will be tangled in the roots or attached to leaves or stems.
University of Minnesota research demonstrated that 93% of plants received contained hitchhikers.
Of those, 10% were federally or state listed noxious weeds and 18% of the plants actually ordered were misidentified.
Some of the plants or animals received were known to be invasive or prohibited in the state.
Invasive organisms are often are often present in shipping medium or used for packing or even the plants themselves that were ordered.
Watch for animals like snails or egg masses or other plant fragments that are attached to plant roots.
If it seems likely the plant has hitchhikers, you can clean emergent plant types, for example arrowhead with a bleach solution.
Dip the plants in a 10% chlorine solution, (1 cup of bleach to 9 cups of water)
swish it around and shake it off.
Rinse in tap water after thirty seconds.
This method should not be used on submerged plants like Elodea.
These plans don't look very dirty, so we're going to rinse these in a light colored pan of clear tap water before planting and dispose of any packing materials or water shipped with the plants.
Be sure to inspect roots for other plant fragments for egg masses.
Solid materials may be frozen or thoroughly dried before disposal in the household trash or burned where this is legal.
Solid materials should not be composted since seeds can survive drying or freezing.
Water should be used in the garden as long as it's well away from natural water bodies, and not raining.
Otherwise dispose of it in the sanitary sewer since storm drains may be connected to local streams.
Now, we're going to inspect our plant roots.
We're going to look for egg masses. These seemed fairly clean, and we're going to begin the squish process. See there's lots of material in the pan.
We're dumping the water, we'll collect it and dispose of it all at once.
We're going to clean these plants two or three times and rinsing the pan in between to be sure we've gotten anything out of there that might have come off the plant.
And we're going to keep on washing I just have a watering can of clear tap water.
so that I can take the plants, fill the pan, swish them around, return them to the water.
There are some plant roots coming off, Don't worry about those. We'll just discard them.
They aren't important.
And if we do this, the water will get cleaner, and we can see what isn't in the pan. Soon the plants will be clean and ready to go into our garden, all nice and clean, and free of hitchhikers.
This plant came with some other hitchhikers. You want to inspect and remove any other plants you don't recognize before planting.
This is a Pitcher Plant.
It came with planting instructions and some identification. That's a good thing.
You want to pay particular attention to the hardiness zone.
This is a native to Pennsylvania although this particular cultivar is not necessarily as hardy. It's hardiness zone is only from 7-10.
I'm going to inspect this plant, and you can see that something's already germinated. There are other plants that obviously are not this plant in the pot.
We're going to remove those now.
We're going to be careful to inspect all the area around the plant and we're going to pull out these little weeds.
We're going to try to get the roots and all so will be very careful to remove them from the medium.
If the medium seems particularly dirty, you can re-pot into fresh medium. I would recommend that.
Pull them carefully, taking roots and all.
And now we have a plant ready to put into the garden.
Now, this plant likes wet feet and dry ankles, so we're going to move it to another pan, and see what's been growing while it awaited planting.
It's obvious that some plants have grown, there's a clump of algae here.
This may be something that moved in naturally, or something you want to remove.
In any case, we're going to remove it.
Now the plant is ready to go into the garden.
If plants remain in the water garden and properly disposed of at the end of the season they shouldn't cause a problem.
However, gardeners should never release anything to our waters or wild areas.
Natural water bodies are also vulnerable from water gardens because flooding.
Any hardy non-native plants or animal may become the next invasive species, so our suggestion is to use native plants for animals whenever possible.