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    Its been a crazy pond year so far.  First our weather didn't want to cooperate and get warm but then when the weather started getting warmer we were so busy I didn't have alot of time to write yet alone get my pond going.

    We decided to redo our pond this year, again, as my husband would say.   It was a long weekend project but its complete now and with a few minor changes here and there will be so much better than the old one.  Mostly the problem I had with the other one was all the rocks in the pond which made it hard getting in and out.  Pretty slippery....so we decided to remove all the rocks and make the shelf larger and the bottom flat instead of sloped around the edges.  Much easier for getting in and out for the tasks of trimming plants and fertilizing them.  We changed our waterfall to enter from a different angle with a long stream bed flowing into the pond.  Much more tranquil and natural.  This will still give me a nice bog area to plant bog plants in.   Its been a couple weeks and the plants are finally starting to adjust.  Now just need to get the bacteria going to clear it up more. What a difference one month makes!

    I started this blog a couple weeks ago and then things got busy so now I have updated pictures of the pond and wow did it perform.  Everything is growing well and I must say the plants and fish are happy. The water is crystal clear and the plants are looking so healthy.  I already see a lotus bud on the Mrs. Perry Slocum in just 4 weeks time. Check out my Albert Greenberg.

    Well our busy season is upon us and we're excited about the plants we're sending.  We have several new pond plants this year.  A couple new lotus, waterlilies and bog plants.  Check them out at our store, www.dragonflyaquatics.com

    I often get questions about whether to use water lettuce or water hyacinths as floaters in the pond.  They both basically serve the same purpose. 

    Water lettuce  (Pistia stratiotes) has light green spongy leaves that looked as if they have veins running through them.   The leaves are approximately 1-5" wide.   The leaves are covered with tiny hairs and occasionally tiny white flowers appear in the center.  Water lettuce prefers partial shade during the hotest part of the day and once the water warms up will multiply quickly.  Their dangling roots provide a place for fish to hid.  Water lettuce can be very aggressive and can deplete the oxygen in the water if you let it take over your entire pond.  So its a good idea to take out some if they start to multiply rapidly.  Water temperature should be 60 - 65 degrees before placing water lettuce in your pond as it will turn the leaves white and they will die. 

     Water Hyacinth - Eichornia crassipes) A floating plant that is a fast grower and beneficial for water filtration.  They have bright green rounded leaves and will get a purple flower on them throughout the season.  Water hyacinth have dangling roots that help filter and clean the water.  We have alot of customers who ordered water hyacinths first in the spring to provide shade immediately to help prevent growth of algae.  It takes other plants such as water lilies longer to produce their leaves to help provide the coverage needed.  When you first receive your water hyacinths you want to put them in shade for a day before adding them to your pond in direct sun or the leaves will turn brown.  They need to soak water up in their leaves.  Again make sure your water temperatures are 60 - 65 degrees before placing in your pond.

    HARDY LOTUS

    As the lotus leaves begin to turn brown, the lotus is beginning to go dormant for the winter. Do not cut off the leaves; allow them to die back naturally. After they die back at this point, it is safe to cut them off above the water line.  Its important to leave a portion of the stem above the water.  You do not want water getting down the hollow green stem and having it get into the air channels of the tuber, if this happens you risk drowning the tuber and cause it to rot. Make sure the potted lotus is below the ice. Allowing the tuber to freeze will kill the plant.

    Floating Plants

    Floating plants such as Water Hyacinth and Water Lettuce are considered tropical and will not survive temperatures below freezing. After the first hard frost, remove from the pond to prevent them from decaying and adding unwanted debris to the pond.

     

    My sister and I have played around with miniature gardens for quite a few years now. We both started out with a miniature trough garden, placed by our ponds with a garden fairy or two. Each year we would purchase more minature trees, plants and fairies. The miniature gardens got larger, adding houses, pathways and of course more fairies. This year we have both taken the Miniature Gardening to a whole new level. We have added water features to our Miniature Gardens!   One is a miniature pond surrounded by fairy benches with a dry creek bed and the other is a waterfall cascading down a slight slope into a  pond with even miniature water lettuce floating on top.  I can't believe how cute they are! 

    We've been so busy taking orders and shipping orders, we just haven't had time to write on the blog as we should.  It has been a whirlwind of a spring so far.  Those in planting zones 8 on the west coast  have had an usually cold spring and should have had their plants in a month ago.  But thanks to good old mother nature, they are still waiting  for their normal warm temperatures.  Hopefully things have finally warmed up.  We held up shipping their plants and it became a daily routine of checking their 10 day forecast to see if they could climb out of the 50 degree weather they were experiencing.  That was their high!  For those of us in the lower planting zones, we should be able to begin putting our plants in the pond, mother nature cooperates  for a couple days and then slips in a few fridgid night time lows in the 30s and 40s.  What do we do?

    Just remember, we need to play it safe and make sure the weather is going to cooperate and keep our new plants protected from the cold.  If we put water lettuce in too early, the leaves will turn from their nice green to white.....water temperatures too cold.  Water hyacinths turn brown......again too cold.  Play it safe with your newly purchased plants and if you think the weather is still too cold,  put them in a container and keep them indoors for a few days.  If it is warm during the day, go ahead and place them outside to get the sun.  I would rather play it safe and protect the plants, then to take a chance of them dying and having to replace them. We do our best to ship the plants when it is safe for you to put them in your pond. We watch the weather highs and lows across the nation and try to ship the plants accordingly. Unfortunately, those cold fronts coming down from Canada, make it somewhat difficult to second guess Mother Nature!

    Next month hopefully we will all be sitting by our ponds thinking how nice everything looks and forget about the crazy spring we just had.

    We had highs in the low to mid 80's the last couple of days here in Ohio.  One week snow, the next unseasonably warm. Don't want to get too used to it though, next week we will be back to the normal spring time temperatures. Normal here this time of year is mid 50's to mid 60's. Nothing like a few warm days though to get people out working on their ponds.  The weather has been on the unusual side. One week snow, the next record breaking high temperatures. It makes it very difficult to know when to ship plants. Many of the plants we sell are cold sensitive and trying to second guess Mother Nature is sometimes impossible! We have customers in the Pacific Northwest that are still freezing, the time has passed when we usually can start to send their plants. Old Man Winter just isn't moving out of that part of the country yet. Hopefully, things will start to warm up for them in the next week or two.  And for us in Ohio, we can only hope the milder temperatures will continue. We just want to remind everyone, just because you are having warm temperatures today, does not mean it is safe to put plants out before your last frost date. It has been such a long winter, I know everyone is a little impatient....I am too! But, always remember, Mother Nature likes to throw curve balls at us! Just when we think it is safe to put plants out, along comes a freeze warning!

    This is what some of us in the North woke up to this morning, and this was after some of it had melted.  What happened to those 50 and 60 degree days???  Hopefully they will be back again soon.  How can we get started cleaning our ponds and thinking putting those new plants in if the water is too cold to put our hand in it.  And what about those fish and frogs???? They are hiding again.

    Whenever this happens, those of us who wanted our plants shipped thinking its finally warm wonder, now what do I do with them.  Make sure you protect them by bringing them indoors until it warms up.  Remember most of the plants have been indoors in a greenhouse environment and shiver even when the temps are in the 60s.  But we need to make sure the water temperature have stabilized to 65 degrees before we put those floating plants out.  

    The floating water plants in your pond need to have the water temperature reach 65 degrees.  They will show signs of yellowing leaves and black spots on their leaves if left  in water temps below that.  The water lettuce will wilt and turn white if too cold.   We tend to get anxious in the spring and sometimes put floaters in before the water is warm enough.  Even the lotus and waterlilies need the warmer weather to start growing.  But at least those were outside all winter and were pulled to ship out. 

    Hopefully, like last year, this is a short spell and in a couple weeks things will turn around and we can once again start looking forward to enjoying our ponds.

    Time to spring forward, or at least turn the clocks forward!  Things are beginning to warm up a bit here in the north and we are anxiously waiting for Spring to arrive so we can begin to add new plants to our ponds.  Another couple of months and we will be sitting back enjoying our ponds once again.  It won't be long now.  For those in the warmer regions, zones 8 and above, you are putting pond plants in your ponds and starting to enjoy them, while those of us in the lower zones are still waiting.  At least most of the ice has melted and we can begin thinking about our ponds once again.

    Don't be fooled by Mother Nature.  We need to make sure it is warm enough outside, and make sure our pond water is warm enough for the plants to survive.  Knowing your pond temperature is crucial, so begin by checking your pond water temperature at different times of the day.  The pond water is cooler in the morning and warmer in the afternoon but will cool down again in the evening.  Knowing what the consistant temperature of your pond water is important before adding the pond plants. 

    The first plants most of us want to put in are those that will help us keep the pond clear, such as floating plants like water hyacinths and water lettuce.  Cold water will kill both of these in a matter of days if the water temperature is still too cold.  We need to make sure the water temperature is consistent and reaches 65 degrees and stays there morning, afternoon and evening before we add floating  plants. 

    There are other things we must do first that will keep us busy, such as adding beneficial bacteria to help keep our pond clear.  The good bacteria, such as MicrobeLift PL neutralizes ammonia and nitrites, and will start to work when the water temperature are 50-55 degrees.  If  you add  bacteria, it will stay in the pond and start working when the pond water is warm enough.  It acts on its own and will stay un-activated until it knows to start working.  For those of us who use barley, now is the right time to start adding it.  This will also help retard the growth of string algae in the Spring months.

    The list goes on and on.  While all of us are anxious to add the pond plants there are still several things to do prior to this.  I will be posting articles in the next few days with spring tips for our ponds.

    Stay tuned!

    Floating plants such as Water Hyacinth and Water Lettuce are considered tropical and will not survive temperatures below freezing. After the first hard frost,  remove them from the pond to prevent them from decaying and adding unwanted debris to the pond.  

    Trying to winter them over indoors is difficult.   They need to be kept in an aquarium or  floated in anything that can hold water.  The problem is they lack adequate light intensity.  They seem to do well for awhile but by February when they start to grow the natural light is not bright enough to promote proper growth. The water temps need to be at least 70 degrees and they need at least 14 hours of sunlight or equivalent to four fluorescent bulbs held about 12 inches over the water.  

    When you consider the amount of energy and electricity needed to keep tropical plants alive over the winter its probably cheaper to  just use them for mulch in your vegetable garden and buy new ones in the spring.

    When putting floating water lettuce in your pond you need to make sure the water temps are 65 degrees or above.  This is a picture of what happens to lettuce if put in water temperatures that are below that. 

    We often get anxious to start up our ponds in the spring.  Especially since we need to get some coverage on it to prevent algae and get some protection for our fish.  But we need to be patient and introduce those plants when the water temperatures warm  up.   

    This is a cooler spring than normal with cold spells popping up in states that normally are warm by now.  We may have hardy water lilies in our ponds that have sprouted already.  Their leaves are reaching the top of the pond  but they have been dormant in the cold water through the winter and now are reaching for the warm sun.  The water lettuce has been in a nice warm greenhouse prior to your pond and needs to have the warmer water to flourish. 

    Thanks to one of our customers for sharing his picture.

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