I have found in the last few years that the Water Hyacinth is one of the best pond plants to help keep the water clean in my ponds. Even under the canopy of 30-50′ Oaks and sporadic sun and light filtered shade, these South American (Brazil) beauties still thrive. They are invasive and a noxious weed (as in Florida) and reproduce faster than any plant I have ever seen. In my zone 7 back yard I thin them every couple weeks keeping about 50% of your pond clear (of Water Hyacinth). It is important for sunlight to reach the bottom of your pond for the other aquatic plants and fish (plus if you let the Water Hyacinth take over it can deplete oxygen levels and kill your fish).
The long roots (sometimes reaching 12-18″ long reaching the bottom of the pond) are breeding grounds for gold fish and other fish. In addition to filtering out fish waste, the Water Hyacinth provide shade for your fish from the hot sun. I never had an algae problem and this year my 2 year old goldfish reproduced. In colder climates you will need full sun on your pond to grow Water Hyacinth and other pond plants. You may read that Water Hyacinth are breeding grounds for mosquitoes, but I only found this to be true if there are no fish to eat the mosquito eggs and larvae and the pond is overrun with Water Hyacinth. Note: this statement is from my experience after accidentally killing my goldfish and noticed an increase in mosquitoes in my backyard.
This is not a ‘no maintenance’ fix for ponds because ponds do need occasional cleaning and filling especially in times of extreme weather conditions. I have not had an algae problem either. In my pond I have a potted Arrowroot and Yellow Flag Iris and late spring I add one Water Lettuce plant that will reproduce quickly as well. I also have a couple 25 cent goldfish in the pond that require no food or special care and eat the mosquito eggs and larvae. In 2016 I will have Water Hyacinth in my large pond and use Water Lettuce in my smaller water fountain to reduce algae and keep the water clear.
You may also see pictures of Water Hyacinth blooming on huge ponds and read that they bloom all season long. That may happen for you, however, I did not have blooms until the end of summer (2015) on only 1 plant. I was given my Water Hyacinth from a couple who buy them every year from the ‘fish’ store and there pond is in full sun and they never mentioned blooms and they had been growing them for a few years in their huge back yard pond. You may also read that you need to fertilize the Water Hyacinth but if you have fish I do not believe you will need to fertilize unless the Water Hyacinth start turning yellow and dying off.
You can purchase your Water Hyacinth from a reputable fish and aquarium store, online, or from someone who shares their prolific bounty. The Water Hyacinth send out stolons (or runners) to produce daughter plants. In the heat of early summer the plant will start to reproduce quickly so you only need 1 plant to start. Seriously, within a couple weeks your plant will produce several ‘daughters’ and within a month you will be giving plants away!
If you grow Water Hyacinth and have any tips to share, feel free to comment. I would love to here what zone you are in and how you care for yours.
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2016 copyrighted material C Renee Fuller @The Garden Frog Boutique