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For The Garden

Water Flora

Author: Cathy Cromell
Issue: July, 2014, Page 110



Water Hyssop
(Bacopa monnieri)

Type: Herbaceous perennial

Elevation: Low, mid

Blooms: White; off and on year-round

Size: 6"H by 1-4'W

Soil: Moist organic soil

Light: Full to partial sun

Maintenance: Pinch back to control spread. Protect from freeze.

Note: Used in traditional herbal Ayurvedic treatments, water hyssop is now being studied for its varied medicinal properties.

Why we like it: It can be grown submerged in water or planted in soil along pond perimeters. Its bright-green succulent stems and leaves creep across rocks or hardscape, softening pond edges and reducing heat and glare.


Water Lily
(Nymphaea sp.)


Type: Aquatic floating perennial

Elevation: Low, mid, high

Blooms: Blues, pinks, peaches, reds, yellows and whites; spring to summer

Size: Multiple pads spread across pond’s surface up to 8'

Soil: Rich soil in submerged pots

Light: Full sun

Maintenance: Remove spent foliage and flowers.

Note: Tropical water lilies require warm water; hardy water lilies require cool water. Some open in morning and close late in the afternoon; others open at night and close late the next morning. Pick varieties that suit your elevation and bloom when you are home to enjoy them.

Why we like it: Its attractive, exotic flowers add beauty to the landscape.


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Yerba Mansa
(Anemopsis californica)

Type: Herbaceous perennial

Elevation: Low, mid, high

Blooms: White; spring to fall

Size: 6-18"H by 2-4'W

Soil: Moist neutral or alkaline soil at pond’s edge

Light: Full sun to light shade

Maintenance: Spreads vigorously by above-ground runners and below-ground rhizomes. Control by digging and dividing or by limiting access to water. At high elevations, mulch to protect from winter cold.

Note: Indigenous peoples used all parts of this plant medicinally.

Why we like it: Its spiked blossoms surrounded by petal-like bracts resemble white coneflowers. Aromatic foliage turns red in winter at low elevations.



Bog Lily
(Crinum americanum)



Type: Herbaceous perennial bulb

Elevation: Low

Blooms: White; summer through fall

Size: 1-3'H by 1-3'W

Soil: Moist and organically rich soil

Light: Filtered light or protection from hot afternoon sun

Maintenance: Minimal. May freeze in winter but revives with warm temperatures.

Note: Also known as swamp lily, this wetlands plant grows naturally along streams and in marshes. A separate flower stalk arises from its bulb.

Why we like it: Fragrant flowers feature six white petals that curve backward, creating a distinctive spider shape. Strappy leaves form a lush clump.


Other Favorites:  Canna (Canna sp.), elephant’s ear—or taro (Colocasia esculenta), hardy water canna (Thalia dealbata), whorled marshwort (Hydrocotyle verticillata)
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