By Khaula Siddique
I started gardening a few years ago, with absolutely no idea what to do. But Google is my best friend and I think you could probably learn brain surgery from YouTube considering you can find a tutorial about how to do anything imaginable on YouTube. Disclosure: I really don’t recommend learning to do brain surgery from YouTube.
With the generous tips and advice from gardeners who love to share their expertise I have managed to keep my plants alive and thriving. Every Spring I look forward to get back to planting and find the whole process very therapeutic, it is so rewarding to be part of the process of renewal, growth and sustaining your own little backyard ecosystem.
My favorite part of my green little kingdom is without a doubt my pond container, it just adds that final touch of Zen to my sanctuary. It may sound intimidating but it really isn’t and can fit into a very small space. It adds an exotic luxurious look that is pretty economical. My container pond cost me a total of about $65-$70 and I just use what I have to start it up again every year (you have to take it down in cold weather.)
Supplies and Materials
- First comes the container. This can be anything from a large plastic tub to a lavish pot specifically created for the purpose. It really depends on your budget. I am helping a friend start her container pond and yesterday we picked up a large pot from the gardening center at Home Depot for about $30 (not including tax). It is about 20 inches in diameter and looks like a barrel, which is perfect for a container pond. There are of course all sorts of beautiful containers/pots available at garden centers so you should go and explore the options. You want to make sure you have something deep enough and wide enough depending on what sort of plants you want to have in the pond. There are way more options that just water lilies! If, however, your main purpose is to have a water lily then you want a pot that is at least 2 ft deep or more. I was very lucky to find one at Costco a few years back, it is about 2ft in diameter and 2 ft deep and only cost about $25. Make sure the pot does not have holes in the bottom, planters often do!
- Plants! There are so many possibilities! Do you want an exotic lotus or water lily? Do you want a more Balinese inspired water feature? In which case you may want a wider, shallower container with Dwarf Papyrus and just a little solar power fountain. You can add large rocks to that with maybe just some duck weed and a Water Hyacinth. Water Hyacinth is available at Sheridan Nurseries and only costs $6 for a plant. You only need one as they propagate very quickly and soon you will have several. You will probably end up giving them away to friends. Water Hyacinth give beautiful purple flowers and just float around on the top so you just pop them in your pond and that is about it, they don’t need to be place in a pot with soil or anything. They are the perfect plant for container ponds and especially for beginners-you only have to buy one every year as they don’t over winter. Remember to place your container pond in a sunny spot though!
Dwarf Papyrus adds a beautiful tropical look to the pond and honestly you can just add one pot and the pond already starts to look complete. So if you are a minimalist it is perfect. I got my Dwarf Papyrus at a local nursery (called Sid’s pond) for about $12 last year. I do add a different plant occasionally, and last year it was the Dwarf Papyrus, I just brought it inside for the winter and have put it out again this year. It has beautiful stalks of long thin grass topped with a wispy flowering seed head (all green).
Water lily is a bit pricier, and I honestly didn’t get one the first year I started my water garden, someone gave me a baby tuber for free. I wasn’t ready to risk it as I had never done a container pond before so you may want to try it out with more economical plants first. The Water Lily will require you to store it in the garage over winter, with just enough water and maybe in a large plastic garbage bag to save on space if you don’t have room to put the container pond in the garage. The Water Lily will come in a basket that you can put right into the pond, it does require soil and you may have to change the original pot as the tubers will multiply and need more room. You can buy a plastic mesh basket from the dollar store and line it with landscape fabric, add more soil as needed and then replant your water lily into this. Make sure the landscape fabric comes up high enough for you to fold over the soil and add a few rocks to help prevent it from flowing out when you place it back in the pond. I bought my Water Lily at Sheridan Nurseries last year for about $45.
If you have room and a large container pond though I would suggest going for a Lotus Plant. Lotus are much tougher and from what I have learned easier to grow than water lilies, they will require you to bring them in over winter as well though. I bought an Orange Punch Canna Lilly the first year I started my pond from Sheridan Nurseries for about $14 and I religiously collect the seeds to start new plants. My original plant has given me three plants (and many seeds which I have given out to friends) and I put the smaller plants back in the pond every year in a mesh basket lined with landscape fabric. When the weather gets cooler I transfer the now much larger plant into a tall planter with more soil and bring it indoors. It gives me gorgeous large orange blooms all year! Then when spring comes I take the smaller plant which I grew from seeds and put it in the mesh plastic basket and into the pond again. This was the best purchase I have ever made from Sheridan.
With any water plant you buy there will usually be a bit of Duckweed that clings to it and comes along this is great as Duckweed also propagates quickly and then you have a nice layer of that which really completes the pond look. It just floats around and requires you to do basically nothing!
Once you get the hang of how to maintain the pond do your research and find other plants you would like to add to your pond, it is such a fun project to add to every year.
- Floating Solar Water Fountain. I got mine from Amazon and it cost about $20. I feel this is a must for the pond as it helps keep the water from stagnating, look amazing and the sound of the water trickling is very soothing. Remember you need to keep the pond in a sunny spot!
How To Set up
Once you have the plants you have decided on and your container you just need to fill it up with water and place your plants in the container. The Water Lily or Lotus can go right in at the bottom, the Water Hyacinth will float around on top and plants like the Canna Lily or Papyrus need shallow water so you can pile in bricks on the bottom of the container to make a platform for the Canna or other shallow water plants or use a strong string to tie around the pot and help keep it up near the surface by securing the string to a hook in the backyard fence or in my case I just tie it to my balcony railing. Besides adding water to the pond when the level goes down your pond will pretty much take care of itself, do take out dead leaves or other debris floating around though. You can also buy fertilizer tablets for water plants and press one into the bed of the lily or lotus as needed. They are available wherever you buy your Water Lily or Lotus.
Add your favorite outdoor seating, grab a cold drink, a great book and enjoy your container pond!
About the Author
Khaula Siddique, artist at Khaula’s Art, has written for Dawn Pakistan and now paints stories on large walls. She loves bringing art to the community and achieves this through interactive art activities and public art projects. When she is not painting, she is over-indulging her large eccentric orange tabby who part-times as her critic and her muse. You can find her art shenanigans on her website, Khaula Siddique.com.