Many gardeners will want to grow a few of the attractive water plants even if they must use a sunken tub or barrel in lieu of a more pretentious water garden. Day flowering water lilies of the tropical type are the most popular subjects. Of the tropicals, Panama Pacific (purple), Rubra rosea (rosy red), Mexicana (yellow), and the Star lilies are quite generally used. The better hardy lilies include: Comanche (apricot), Sunrise (yellow), Escarboucle (red), Gonnere (white), and Superba (pink).
In addition to lilies, aquatic gardeners might use plants such as Arrowhead, Bulrushes and Water-hyacinths in the decoration of large pools so as to give a more natural setting.
Eichhorina crassipes. Water-Hyacinths. These plants are native in this region, being found in numerous canals and drainage ditches. The bright green leaves and "floaters" as well as the spikes of lavender blooms make this a desirable addition to the pool. Water-hyacinths float on top of the water, multiplying rapidly by division, and the long, hair-like roots usually reach down into the soil. These plants form excellent fish havens. This plant may become a pest. (Ponterderiaceae.)
Hydrocleys nymphoides. Water Poppy. This delicate little plant, with its numerous small, roundish, floating leaves and small, yellow, poppy-like flowers is an addition to any shallow pool. It should be planted in shallow water. (Butomaceae.)
Myriophyllum prosperpinacoides. Parrots Feather. This water plant forms bright green featherly plumes (16-18 inches long) which extend up out of the water several inches. They are useful as oxidizing plants where goldfish are a part of the lily-pool scheme, and their long, loose rootlets make splendid protection for fish spawn. (Haloragidaceae.)
Nymphea (Castalia) elegans and N. mexicana. Pond Lily. The native pond lilies are to be found in drainage ditches and canals. Although the blooms are small, they are quite ornamental, and the plants are well adapted for use in small pools. Pond lilies can be found in both yellow (N. mexicana) and blue (N. elegans) flowered forms. (Nymphaceae.)
Nymphea sp. Water-Lily. Of the Water Lilies growing in the pool at the Valley Experiment Station, the tropical lilies have produced blooms during the greatest part of the year. Panama Pacific and Mrs. Pring produce a profusion of blooms throughout the year; Mexicana, Pershing and Pennsylvania ranking second in length of blooming period and profusion of bloom; with Rubra rosea ranking third. Of the hardy lilies, Comanche is the only variety which remains on the water the entire year. It produces a few blooms throughout the winter months and ranks with Sunrise in equalling the best of the tropical lilies in profusion of bloom during the warm months.
August Koch. A tropical lily, similar to Panama Pacific in every way, except profusion of bloom and color. It has lilac-blue flowers.
Blue Beauty. A tropical lily that produces long slender buds; numerous attractive light blue flowers having narrow petals; and green leaves splotched with brown.
Comanche. This is the most persistant and profuse blooming of the hardy lilies, producing a continuous supply of medium to large, orange-colored flowers throughout the warm months and a few scattered blooms during the winter season. The green splotched leaves are resistant to aphids. Very desirable.
Escarboucle. A hardy, red-flowered lily having reddish green leaves. This lily is one of the first hardy lilies to bloom in the spring, and ranks second to Sunrise and Comanche in profusion of bloom. Very desirable.
Frank Trelease. A dark red, night-blooming tropical lily which has showy bronzy red foliage.
Gonnere. A small hardy lily that produces a few, small, very double, cup-shaped, white flowers. Although it does not produce a profusion of bloom, it is worth the small space it takes in any pool.
Juno. A large, white, night-blooming tropical lily; the best white, night-blooming lily in the Station pool.
Marliac. These small hardy lilies produce a profusion of bloom. They may be had in a variety of colors.
Mexicana. A small tropical lily that produces rather small, attractive, yellow, narrow-petaled flowers. This plant multiplies so rapidly as to become a nuisance, unless it is grown in a box or tub, and the new plants thinned out. It is such a rank feeder that the plants do not bloom satisfactorily if confined in a small space.
Missouri. A white, night-blooming tropical which has not had time to prove its adaptability in the Valley.
Mrs. Pring. A white flowered, tropical lily which ranks along with Panama Pacific as the best, year around lily. The flowers are medium to small in size and have narrow petals.
Paul Heriot. A dwarf, tropical lily that produces small, bronze, splotched leaves and small flowers which are first pale apricot in color, becoming darker each succeeding day. This is a most useful lily in small pools.
Pennsylvania. A vigorous, tropical lily which produces large green leaves and deep blue flowers in great profusion. Very desirable.
Pershing. A large, vigorous, tropical lily which produces numerous deep pink flowers. Best of the pink lilies.
Rubra rosea. A rosy-red, tropical, night-blooming lily which has reddish green leaves. This is one of the showiest in the collection of lilies in the Experiment Station Pool. It produces numerous, brilliantly colored flowers from July to October, and the blooms remain open until mid-morning.
Sturtevant. This dark red, night-blooming tropical lily has not had time to prove its adaptability to Valley conditions.
Superba. A pink flowered, hardy lily which has a very short blooming season; there is little to recommend it except its clear pink color.
Sunrise. This hardy lily ranks with Comanche in profusion of bloom. It has large, double, lemon-yellow flowers which stand up well above the water line.
Star. These lilies produce small blossoms in various shades of blue and rose as well as white. Well adapted, and quite popular.
Pistia Stratiotes. Water-Lettuce. This plant forms light green, thick-leafed rosettes which float on top of the water, multiplying rapidly until whole colonies are formed. It is an attractive addition to the pool except when it is damaged by aphids. Aphids can be partially controlled by hosing the plants off with a strong stream of water. (Araceae.)
Sagittaria platphylla. Arrowhead. A graceful, upright, native bog plant having rather large arrow-shaped green leaves and loose spikes of small, white flowers. It is best suited to shallow planting. (Alismaceae.)
Typha angustifolia and T. latifolia. Cat-tail. Cat-tails are native in this region, and can be secured from almost any earthen drainage ditch or canal. They are useful principally in lending height to the pool decoration scheme. These plants are most attractive when the brown "cat-tails" appear on the tops of the plants during the fall season. If Cat-tails are used in the small pool, it is best to plant them in pots; otherwise, they will multiply too rapidly and become a nuisance. T. angustifolia is the common narrow-leafed type; T. latifolia is the wide-leafed species. (Typhaceae.)
Ornamentals for the Rio Grande Valley