by Harriet Bond
(San Francisco, CA, USA)
All pool plants are creatures of the water. They can withstand expo¬sure to wind, air, and sun only if they are in constant contact with their true element, water.
So if you cannot get around to planting immediately after purchasing plants, make sure they have enough water: Place marsh plants so that their roots stand in water, and immerse any plants with floating leaves (water lilies!) in a container filled with water. For floating plants a shallow pan will do.
Start the project by laying out your planting plan on paper, at least in approximate outline. Otherwise, you may give way to temptation when confronted with the wide choice of available plants and later find that you have bought too many. Depending on the time of year, most garden pool plants look rather sickly when you buy them, but they quickly grow into magnificent specimens that take up a lot of room.
Density of First Planting: The different zones of the pool are planted in different densities. A good rule of thumb is to figure on four to six plants per square yard in marshy zones and three to four, in shallow-water zones.
• Square yards are too small a unit for determining how many water lilies should be planted. Depending on the vigor of the strain in question, three to five plants are sufficient for a pool of 10 square yards. If you like, you can add some other plant species— floating heart, for instance—that thrives under similar conditions.
• Submerged plants, the most important suppliers of oxygen, will grow anywhere in the pool. Figure on about two to three plants per square yard of pool surface. Since most underwater plants proliferate rapidly, you should thin them now and then in the course of the summer.
• Six to eight small plants per square yard will provide plentiful vegetation along the pool’s margin in damp or dry soil. If the plants are larger or grow vigorously, two to three will be sufficient.
• When you first plant in and around your pool, follow the motto “less is more.” Your pocketbook will be grateful, and you can always add plants at a later date if there are some glaring holes.
Time of Planting: You can plant anytime, from when the ice goes out in the spring to the fall. This is the period of vegetative growth, when plants find everything they need to thrive. You need not worry about plants taking root, even if you plant them in late summer.
Since most pool plants are raised in individual pots, there is no danger of root damage when they are transferred to the pool bottom or to your containers, and the plants will quickly take hold in their new location.
Plants that are not fully winter hardy, such as the cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), should not be planted until all danger of frost is past.
To continue reading this article please click part two.