A Water Gardener’s Top Texas Plants

Adapted to Texas conditions from material presented
by the American Nursery & Landscape Association

Photos by Cynthia W. Mueller

he delicate appearance of aquatic plants is somewhat deceptive. According to Richard Koogle, director of operations at Lilypons Water Gardens, “Most aquatic plants are hard to kill. All they really need is still water, sunlight, and a few fertilizer tablets.” Koogle spoke with the American Nursery and Landscape Association about choice plants for water gardens. Those recommended for Texas conditions by the Lilypons store in Brookshire, Texas, are:

  • ‘Pink Beauty’ waterlily - “The perfect beginner’s lily,” is how Koogle describes this inexpensive, easy-to-grow wonder. It adapts well to smaller tub gardens - another reason novices should try it.

  • ‘Indiana’ waterlily - Changeability is this lily’s claim to fame - its blossoms turn from yellow to russet in five days.

  • ‘Panama Pacific’ waterlily - Lilypons’ top seller, ‘Panama’ is a tropical lily with purple flowers and butter yellow centers. This exotic bloomer peaks in summer months, but some gardeners grow it year round.

  • ‘Charlene Strawn’ waterlily - hybridized in Texas by Dr. Kirk Strawn and named for his wife, Charlene, this is a very well-adapted yellow bloomer.

  • ‘Colorado’ waterlily - is a hardy variety with an attractive salmon color.

  • ‘Joey Tomocik’ waterlily - has a fine yellow color and is a popular seller at the Texas Lilypons location.

  • ‘Momo Boton’ - in the case of this lotus, a close relative of the water lily, good things come in small packages. It’s a bathing beauty with rose and white double flowers that open over a four to six-week period.

  • Louisiana iris - come in infinite color combinations. Natives of the swamps of Louisiana, this is the only iris to flaunt red pigments in the water garden landscape. They are tough and hard to kill, as long as they have moisture.

  • Pseudacorus iris - multiply freely and bloom in the spring, along with Louisiana iris, in shades of gold.

  • Taro - the black and green leaves and dark centers of ‘Black Magic’ and ‘Black Princess’ lend a mysterious, tropical look to ponds.

  • Rushes - there are many kinds to choose from, including all-green, curly, golden and variegated. These plants contrast nicely with lilies while lending height and structure to water gardens.

  • Cattails - found in dwarf and standard heights, and even in a variegated variety, these are a natural choice for watery settings. The narrow leaves and dark catkins of this striking plant make a bold statement.

Waterlilies in red colors do not adapt as well to hot Texas conditions as do the other colors such as yellows or whites.

(Adapted from: Discover the Pleasure of Gardening, Spring/Summer 2001, American Nursery and Landscape Association).

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This article appeared in the May 2001 issue of Horticulture Update, edited by Dr. Douglas F. Welsh, and produced by Extension Horticulture, Texas Agricultural Extension Service, The Texas A&M University System, College Station, Texas