Pontederia cordata - Exotic water plant that grows well in the UK
I am in the early stages of designing a pond to be created in the iPlantsgarden and my mind has wandered a few times (as it does generally) to plant selections that I may use. One plant that I have never grown, but always wanted to is Pontederia cordata, commonly called Pickerel Weed. It will be featuring in my new pond!
Its exotic look and impressive stands make for quite the feature. I've seen it in damp soil and growing directly in water, where it seems to grow better and I know it is tolerant of very low soil oxygen levels and as such quite a robust thing indeed. You don't see it very often in the UK (it is a North and South American native, but considered fully-hardy in the UK) and it always grabs the attention of anyone happening upon it with the large, bright-green, upright foliage and spikes of bright-blue flowers from July to September (and often longer).
It does make a big clump given time, so not for every pond, but if you want an impressive lump of a plant with vibrant, blue flowers, this is a really interesting choice. As we are moving towards winter, I'm going to buy a plant and pot it up, storing in my unheated greenhouse so that when my pond is dug out and formed in (late) Spring, I will have a larger plant ready to install.
In terms of cultivation, water is obviously important in plant success, from damp soil to growing in the water itself. Space also needed to let the clump make a decent size of 1 square metre at least. Good sunlight will make all the difference in terms of flower production and you really can't give it too much sun as long as the roots are wet. Because of its height of 1.2-15m, best to avoid exposed, windy spots which will quickly damage foliage. It grows in shallow water of 10-15cm deep max, so you would consider it a Marginal Plant in aquatic terms. To propagate plants, simply divide and replant smaller clumps. You may want to share with your neighbours, though you may just want to maintain their jealousy at this lovely thing growing in your garden. If you're looking for something similar for a normal bed or border that isn't wet at all, grow Salvia uliginosa, which has a particular similarity to the flowers here and is also quite lovely.
I love the foliage (leaves), adore the flowers and even the buds are interesting. This is one of those plants that can add something quite special to a garden. Looks good in a formal stone/concrete raised pond just as it does edging a liner/natural pond. I'm excited to grow this for the first time.
I've spotted it on sale at Bradshaws Direct and you can buy it from them by clicking on the button below, which will visit their website.
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