Adding a pond to your backyard is an attractive asset for your place and a great source of enjoyment and relaxation. It makes your family feel closer to nature with the fish and plants you will raise. However, a pond without plants is somehow lifeless on the surface. Introducing your pond to pickerelweed is a great way to improve your pond and make it full of life.
To grow pickerelweed in your pond, you should first be aware of the plant’s profile. Next, know how to grow it and the proper care it needs. And lastly, acknowledge its importance to your pond’s ecosystem and to humans.
In this article, we will talk about growing pickerelweed in your pond. Considering the following facts and ideas of keeping pickerelweed will lead to great success in your pond and making your place habitable to the wildlife.
What Is a Pickerel?
A pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), also known as pickerel rush, is a monocotyledonous aquatic plant native to North America. The common name “pickerelweed” is a clear reference to the pickerel fish. Although there is no confirmation that the plant has any association with the said fish, it provides shelter to aquatic creatures.
The genus name “Pontederia” is a reference to Guilo Pontedera, a botany professor during the 18th century. The species’ name “cordata” is a reference to the plant’s heart-shaped leaves.
Pickerelweed is a member of the water hyacinth family that grows in various wetlands, such as ponds, marshes, lakes, and slow-moving streams. Pickerelweed typically grows in shallow water, where its leaves and flowers are above the water and portions of the stem are underwater. This herbaceous emergent loves full sun to part shade and requires a very little amount of care. The plant may become invasive because of its rhizomatous rooting system.
Pickerelweed has negligible human uses. It is allegedly used for food and can make delicious snacks for humans as the seeds and leaves are both edible. Some sources claim that it produces nutritious seeds that have a nutty flavor and can be eaten directly. You may also dry the seeds and add them to your homemade granola or roast them in the oven. The leaf stalks can also be cooked like spinach, or eaten raw and added to your fresh salads.
Pickerelweed is a perennial emergent that usually grows 3 to 4 feet tall. Emergents are plants that are rooted on the bottom while the leaves and stems are rising above the water surface. Its deep green, waxy and heart-shaped leaves emerge at the end of the stems and are approximately 2-10 inches long and 1-6 inches wide. The mature fruit of each flower has three cells but only one develops as a seed.
The huge pickerel plant produces one spike of tiny blue-violet flowers in early summer that lasts until fall. The stalk terminates in a single floral spike up to 5 inches long. Each flower is about ⅓ inch long and has deeper lobes on the lower lip and a shallow lobe on the upper lip.
The tip lobe has small patches of yellow bud that may be considered nectar that attracts insects. The flowers and their buds are densely arranged surrounding the spike that can produce up to 100 flowers or more and bloom in succession from the bottom to the top. However, the individual flower may only last a few days.
Aquatic plants create a welcoming and lively ambiance around backyard ponds. They provide color and vibrancy that add life and aesthetics to our garden setups. In addition to this, they are also beneficial to the creatures that live in your pond. Before you head to the plant nursery, you need to know how many aquatic plants you need for your pond.
How to Plant a Pickerel in a Pond
To plant pickerelweed in your pond, look for an area along the shoreline of your pond that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight every day and where the water is around 1 to 6 inches deep with a quite flat bottom surface. The plant can grow up to 3 feet high and makes a beautiful backdrop surrounding the sides of your pond.
The floating leaves provide shade to prevent excess algae growth and form a chain of foliage for the fishes to hide in. Pickerel is a low-maintenance plant but you may cut off faded leaves and flowers that bend and drop into the water.
Since it tends to disseminate swiftly and can expand and infiltrate other areas of your pond, planting it into an aquatic pot is the best way to control its aggressive growth. Put your seedlings in a fabric aquatic planter, and you may add fertilizer following the given directions. Put two to three clusters together in a large pot for great results.
Fill the pot with the pond potting media and put a thin layer of gravel on top to prevent the potting media from floating out. You may also use sandy clay loam soil as a basic alternative. In addition, closely set up the plant at the edge of your pond, which should be submerged in about 3 to 5 inches of water.
Pickerelweed can also grow from seeds by disseminating 20 to 30 live seeds per square foot. As the seeds germinate in moist, cool, and loose soil, it is perfect to plant them at the pond edge or in a pot. Although, they need to be watered regularly. As long as your pickerelweed gets sufficient sunlight and doesn’t dry out, you will enjoy its lovely bloom from June until October.
Pickerelweed, along with cattail, yellow flag iris, cardinal flower, and the arrowhead, is the best plant partner for shallow water and bogs. These plants grow well up to 3 inches of water over their growth point. Pickerel is a great alternative to invasive water hyacinth, which features the same blue-purple flowers. Dissimilar to water hyacinth leaves that float on the water, pickerelweed leaves grow upright.
If you want your pond to look good and natural in your backyard, you need to make sure that it matches its surroundings. One way of doing this is by edging your pond with plants. If you don’t know how to do this, read our guide to edging your pond with plants to learn how to make your pond look even better.
How to Care for Your Pickerel
Aquatic plants are generally used to enhance the beauty of ponds and provide a great habitat for other forms of aquatic life. Ideally, the introduction of the beneficial aquatic plant will suppress the growth of algae, filter the water, and provide food for fish. Pickerel is a great addition to your pond for it is a lovely, decorative, resilient, very useful plant, and most of all, it is easy to care for.
Most importantly, it must be always wet and exposed to direct sunlight. It is also very important to maintain water levels and the levels should exceed the height of the lowest-growing leaves. Fertilizer and climate are non-essential or secondary considerations.
Naturally, pickerelweed grows rapidly and can form dense mats of vegetation, which can produce thick layers of muck as the plant dies and decays, and may cause the degradation of the water that serves as the fish’s habitat. If you leave it neglected, it will grow very thick just, like it is in the wild.
It is highly recommended to split up the plant every couple of growing seasons to maintain and not overcrowd your pond. To prevent this, dig out the plant and cut the rhizomes to split out a part of the leaves and roots. Transplant one of the parts and use the other one to start growing a new plant.
One way of improving your backyard is by adding a pond. This water feature will provide you with fresh air, beautiful scenery, and a calming natural sound. To convince you even further, here are 5 benefits of having a backyard pond.
Why You Need to Plant Pickerel in Your Pond
As we already know, pickerel is a native of North America, but it is extensively planted all over the world for its beautifying effect. Its dense stem and root system provides a wave barrier and protect shoreline sediment from erosion. Pickerelweed is of some value to wildlife. It is also a food source for a wide variety of terrestrial and aquatic animals.
Many living creatures feed on this aquatic plant. Its flowers not only add color and elegance to your pond but also attract bees and butterflies due to their nectar. Deer and rodents eat the leaves, while some moths and beetles eat the stalks. Manatees are cited to choose pickerelweed over other plants as food.
Ducks like the seeds that spread across the water. Fish frequently take shelter in pickerelweed. Damselflies and dragonflies usually lay their eggs on the plant stems, near the water surface. Overall, pickerelweed is a very important aquatic plant to your pond’s ecosystem.
Planting pickerelweed in a pond improves the pond’s aesthetics. It makes it more attractive by providing attractive flowers, interesting structure, and depth. It may even add interest in pots for terraces and patios. It gives an informal garden pool the look of a wild pond. Whether it’s preserving our wetland, embellishing your place, or adding some flavor to your plates, pickerelweed is a vital contributor to life in your pond.
The presence of aquatic plants in your pond is important to maintain a balanced ecosystem. Finally, with all the information and recommendations regarding how to grow pickerel in your pond, you’re all set. So, try to grow this highly recommended aquatic plant that produces very enchanting clumps and gives a colorful appeal to your place.