General Discussion:

real small water garden

Messages posted to thread:

bett13-Jun-03 01:50 PM EST 6   
DAVE13-Jun-03 04:07 PM EST   
Gail13-Jun-03 10:49 PM EST 3a   
Roberta16-Jun-03 03:29 PM EST 5   
Brent17-Jun-03 11:39 AM EST 4b   
bett20-Jun-03 11:04 AM EST   
Marise25-Jun-03 11:38 AM EST 5a   
gwen in victoria25-Jun-03 11:22 PM EST 8a   
Marise26-Jun-03 04:14 PM EST 5a   

Subject: real small water garden
From: bett
Zone: 6
Date: 13-Jun-03 01:50 PM EST

Has anyone ever tried a very small contained water garden? I have a pot about 20" across and maybe a foot deep, shaped like an inverted bell and I want to float a couple of plants in for my patio. Everything I've read seems to be that there isn't a lot of special care to do this, but I wondered if anyone out there had tried it and what the results were.

Subject: RE: real small water garden
From: DAVE
Date: 13-Jun-03 04:07 PM EST

Make sure you arn'tproviding a breeding area for mosquitoes. It's been suggest in previous postings that all you need is a pump to keep the water flowing to prevent the little bugs but I would put in a small fish or two to eat the the larvae. Only problem is the water may get too hot for the fish if the small pot was in the sun too long.

Subject: RE: real small water garden
From: Gail
Zone: 3a
Date: 13-Jun-03 10:49 PM EST

I have one of those 1/2 wine barrels on my deck in Radium BC. It sits there from Apr till Oct and then I move it into the cabin for the winter. Last summer I had small water plants but found that it was the plants that caused the water to smell and get elgea so I just placed plants around it on the outside. It also came with a water pump with another little moter & filter that sits on the bottom so I run it when I am at the cabin. I have 4 "feeder-fish" like gold fish, that I leave in the barrel all year around and when I am not there I put those 7-day food tablets in the water for the fish.With only 4 fish this 7 day food source last 2-3 mos. I also stacked large rocks on the bottom of the pond so the fish could hide from preditors.With this pump that comes with the barrel it has a large piece of wood that the pump is screwed into so with setting plants on the back of the barrel makes it very attractive.Sorry for rambling on.

Subject: RE: real small water garden
From: Roberta
Zone: 5
Date: 16-Jun-03 03:29 PM EST

I have a pot on my deck every year, filled with water. I has a small pump that circulates water through a clay lion's head. I keep it in the part of my deck that is shaded for much of the day. I float a water hyacinthe and a water lettuce in it ... and I've never had a problem with mosquitos or algae. It has worked perfectly. The pot is a large clay one .. glazed inside. I filled the hole in the bottom, of course.

Subject: RE: real small water garden
From: Brent
Zone: 4b
Date: 17-Jun-03 11:39 AM EST

I'd like to try the same thing as well(I'm an aquarist, not a water gardener). For a very small water feature like this, goldfish will be too big and too dirty(cause algae). I always like to recommend the 'White Cloud Mountain Minnow' (Tanichthys albonubes) as it is only 1 1/4" long when full grown, clean, and can stand water temperatures from 40 to 90 farenheit. It wouldn't even be necessary to feed them if you had lots of bugs coming to the water pot! Brent.

Subject: RE: real small water garden
From: bett
Date: 20-Jun-03 11:04 AM EST

Thank you all for your suggestions. I won't be adding a pump to the pot, due to i'ts size & location, but the fish idea sounds good. The pot does get sun part of the morning and all afternoon, so the water does warm up. I've been emptying it and refilling once a week to this point to keep it "fresh".

Subject: RE: real small water garden
From: Marise
Zone: 5a
Date: 25-Jun-03 11:38 AM EST

I have been keeping container water gardens for about 8 years now. I started in Halifax (zone 6a) with a green plastic bowl about 24" in diameter and 10" deep. I didn't use separate pots for each plant, I put the soil right into the bowl and planted a pygmy helvola, variegated sweet flag, needle rush, parrots feather, elodea and floated a couple of water hyacinths. The water was super clear, the only chemical I had to use was tablet fertilizers pushed down into the soil for the plants. I had it on my deck which received sun from 11am till evening. It stayed there until late November, when frost had "killed" the greenery and there was a good inch of ice on the surface. That's when I moved the whole thing into my garage. My garage was partly heated i.e. no heating in garage but one wall and the ceiling were part of the house (garage under split level house). The container didn't freeze solid so the roots were still alive. Once Spring arrived, I moved the whole thing out again, removed some of the dead leaves and left it to grow, without changing the water. It flourished again, some of the dead material providing nutrients to the growing plants. After about 2 years, I had to thin some of the more agressive plants like the rush and the sweetflag, after year 5 it was time to divide the waterlily as it was producing less blooms. At that time, I decided to get a bigger container, a half potato barrel. I used separate pots for each plant, as I found it difficult to separate the plants in my other container. I also got a bigger waterlily, but still a dwarf, the Perry's Baby Red. The barrel was easier to move into the garage for the Winter, as I could take the individual pots out of the container for moving. It's important to NOT change the water, or at least no more than 1/3rd of it, as in an aquarium, there is a fine balance (ecosystem) to be kept and the plants don't thrive as much when the balance is played with too much. I did have some algae problems with the larger container, but MicrobeLift took care of that. I have never had fish, as I'd have to put in a filter and pump to clean their mess. The birds love to drink from the ponds as well as wet their feathers, that's ok, they don't bother the plants. I now have a small pump with a bamboo spout spitting water into the container. It sounds nice and keeps the water moving a bit. Remember, though, that waterlilies don't like to have water splashing on them. Last year, I moved to Ottawa, zone 5a. My garage only has one wall attached to the house, so when I moved my containers in there, they froze solid and killed most of my plants. I managed to salvage a variegated sweetflag and, I think, a mini-cattail. Needless to say, I'll be wintering the plants in dark plastic bags in the basement next year. I received my shipment of new plants last week and they're now growing to fill up the pots. I hope this helps you in deciding whether or not to have container ponds. I have thoroughly enjoyed mine. It's a great way to have a pond on "tryout", to see if you'd like to build a bigger one.

Good luck!

Subject: RE: real small water garden
From: gwen in victoria
Zone: 8a
Date: 25-Jun-03 11:22 PM EST

nicely detailed post, Marise...can you tell us about the depth of your soil and how many inches of water floated above the soil in your 10 inch pot? I have not discovered much information about how deep the plants are to be placed...'marginal' plants to my mind sound as though they ought to have their stems out of the water...I probably haven't found a good resource yet. I've got a few containers of water with plants in them but I'm bugged by the pot that houses the plant being evident...did you use a special clayey-type soil? thanks...gwen

Subject: RE: real small water garden
From: Marise
Zone: 5a
Date: 26-Jun-03 04:14 PM EST

I only had about 3 inches of soil and I filled the water up to the top. The bottom of the bowl was probably only 12 inches in diameter. Of course, evaporation would take its toll so I had to keep an eye on it. Marginals vary, some just like to have their roots wet, others like to be in deeper water. Clay-type soil is best, as it tends to stay in place better than lighter soils. One way to stop your soil from moving around in the water is to cover it with a layer of pebbles. I read in a container pond book that you can even use something like pea gravel or kitty litter (unused, of course!) instead of soil because the aquatic plants really get their nutrients from the water (and fertilizer tablets), not the soil. I don't know what kind of kitty litter they were talking about, because the kitty litter I use turns almost to cement when it gets wet. Something else you can do to prevent your plants from invading each other's space is to put plastic dividers in the soil, making "built-in" spaces for each plant. If you don't want to plant everything into the container, I wouldn't worry about the individual pots showing if you have a waterlily and some floaters like water hyacinth. They'll cover most of the surface so no pots should show.

For such a small pot, I used the pygmy Helvola waterlily, as it only needs to be under 9 to 15 inches of water (from the soil to the top of the water). Mine even liked it in 6 to 7 inches of water. There are others out there. For a good resource, check out , they list the water depth for most of their plants. The catalogue also lists the hours of sun needed, in case you have a shady spot. My sister and her husband own the place. I was sort of their guinea pig when I decided to have a container pond. They'll answer any questions you have if you email them, usually within a few days. Have fun! Marise.

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