The City Magazine Since 1975

Take a Dip

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Landscape designer Nancy Newman-Limata combined Colocasia esculenta ’White Lava’, Juncus effusus ’Spiralis’, and water lily in this container water garden. Enter to win it below! Photograph by Julie Timmermann

August 9, 2017

Take a Dip
Bring water plants into the garden with a high-impact, low-maintenance display

From the soothing sound of a bubbling fountain to the cooling sight of rippling water: a container garden of aquatic plants is just the refreshment an August green space needs. “They’re so easy to care for,” says landscape designer Nancy Newman-Limata of Charleston Garden Design. “You can buy a basic electric pump for about $10 or even select one with a light for nighttime ambiance.” Here, find her step-by-step instructions.

How to Plant a Container Water Garden:

1. Select your container. You’ll need one that’s at least 10 inches deep, without drainage. A dark-colored interior is ideal, as it minimizes algae growth.

2. Pick two or three water plants, aiming for an appealing combination of textures, colors, and heights. For our own containers, Newman-Limata used elephant’s ear, corkscrew rush, and water lily, but check local nurseries for more options. Keeping the plants in their plastic nursery pots, top the soil with rocks or pea gravel—this will hold the dirt in place and prevent the plants from floating.

3. Install an electric or solar-powered fountain or pond pump, 40 to 100 gph. The pump is optional, but note that without a “bubbler” to keep water moving, you’ll need to add mosquito fish to the container or regularly apply a product like Mosquito Dunks.

4. Place an aquatic pond plant fertilizer tablet in each plant, using rocks to secure it in place.

5. Arrange plants in the container. The tops of the pots should be within a couple inches of the container’s rim—you’ll likely need to rest them atop household items like bricks and small pots to achieve the desired height.

6. Maintain the garden by keeping it filled with water, fertilizing the plants, and cleaning the pump regularly. About once a year, remove the plants to assess whether they need to be divided and repotted.

To watch Newman-Limata demonstrate how to make a container water garden, click here.

To enter to win our container garden (available for pick up at Charleston’s Mount Pleasant offices), click here.