The water hyacinth. Eichhornia is an exotically shaped and brightly flowering plant that can be kept in the garden pond and even in the aquarium. Easy to care for and hardy, it is even ideal for beginners and inexperienced plant lovers – if you pay attention to a few points. Then she can even delight hobbyists.
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As an aquatic plant, the water hyacinth naturally needs a location in the water. It should also be sunny and warm. Temperatures of at least 15°C are required. However, 18°C to 25°C is ideal.
The water hyacinth is typically kept in the garden pond and therefore outdoors. However, it may only remain here as long as the water temperature is above 15°C. During the cold months, it must be taken to winter quarters. This also applies if it is in a vat on the balcony or terrace.
For this purpose, the outdoor location should be very sunny and subject to as few temperature fluctuations as possible. Cold wind is also detrimental.
attitude in the aquarium
In addition to being cultivated outdoors, the water hyacinth can also be grown in the aquarium or kept as an exotic houseplant. Reaching the right temperature is usually not a problem here, normal room temperature is perfectly adequate.
The situation indoors is protected anyway. The required light remains. A sunny window seat or normal aquarium lighting are ideal. If, on the other hand, the water hyacinth is in a dark corner, a special UV lamp for plants is recommended.
In addition, when cultivating in the aquarium, care must be taken to ensure that the roots and shoots do not impede the swimming of the fish and other aquatic dwellers. Regular trimming is required here.
substrate and planting
Water hyacinths can swim freely because the roots filter needed nutrients directly from the water. Planting is therefore not absolutely necessary.
But if you want the water hyacinths to remain in a fixed place, you should bury the roots in pond soil and weigh them down with a stone. A distance of 20 to 30 cm to the water surface is possible. Special features of the substrate do not have to be taken into account.
In the aquarium it is sufficient to cover the roots with gravel and weigh them down.
The water hyacinth is a low-maintenance plant that can grow very quickly and easily.
Nevertheless, a few factors should be taken into account when cultivating – regardless of whether this takes place in a pond, in a tub or in an aquarium. These include water, fertilization and pruning. Just like the targeted implementation.
Watering is of course not necessary, as the water hyacinth is in the water anyway. When cultivating in a tub, however, it makes sense to change the water regularly.
Soft, low-lime water is ideal. For example, rainwater, stale or filtered tap water. With each change and each refill, it is important to ensure that the water has approximately the same temperature as the liquid removed. One or two degrees is not important, but a strong fluctuation can damage the water hyacinth.
If the water hyacinth is kept in a pond or an aquarium in which the food and the excretions of the fish provide sufficient nutrients, additional fertilization is usually not necessary.
The water hyacinth can even help to keep the water in balance here. However, care must be taken to ensure that it does not spread too much. Otherwise, it removes too many nutrients from the water, which can starve other plants and even aquatic life.
If the water hyacinth is cultivated in a single tub or container, it begins to wither in the pond or aquarium, additional fertilization must be carried out. The amounts and intervals between the individual doses depend on the condition of the plant and the manufacturer’s instructions. A special fertilizer for aquatic plants is ideal.
However, such agents can affect other living creatures in the water. It is therefore advisable to remove the water hyacinths for fertilization and place them in a bucket. It should stand here for about a day and only then be put back in its place.
Pruning the water hyacinth is only necessary if it is affected by mold or wilted leaves appear.
Discolored plant parts should be removed immediately. A sharp knife or scissors are ideal for this.
Shortening or cutting down the water hyacinth is also necessary if it spreads too much. For example, other plants are overshadowed or no light can penetrate into the water below. For this purpose, either entire specimens should be removed or at least the new shoots should be blended.
Like pruning, transplanting water hyacinth is only necessary when it becomes too widespread and the number needs to be reduced. However, it can also happen that the water hyacinth does not thrive at the location – for example because it does not get enough light.
In this case, a brighter location should be chosen. To move the water hyacinth, it is only necessary to pull the plant out of the water, rinse it off and move it to the new place. For longer transport, it is advisable to place the water hyacinth in a bucket in which the roots are covered with water. It is also possible to wrap it in a damp cloth or transport it in plastic bags that contain some water. This way the plant does not dry out.
Water hyacinths are hardy, but they come from the tropics. They can therefore only withstand temperatures below 15°C for a short time. Below 10°C they die off very quickly or at least suffer considerable damage.
They should therefore be taken indoors when the water temperature is 15°C and is slowly falling. A moderately heated room is sufficient as a winter quarters, the temperature of which does not fall below 15°C even at night. This should be aired regularly and not be too dark.
If, on the other hand, the water hyacinth is in the aquarium or is indoors all year round anyway, no special measures are required in winter. The water hyacinth can remain in its warm location. You only have to make sure that there is sufficient brightness.
In spring you can bring the aquatic plant outside again when the water temperature is at least 15°C.
Water hyacinth leaves are a popular crafting material that can be used to create a variety of beautiful and even useful items.
This is also possible with your own water hyacinths. To do this, the long leaves of the water hyacinth are cut off and dried slightly. This is the case after just a few hours. As they dry, they become more flexible and can either be rolled up or folded.
The resulting strands can be braided or woven. When crafting with them, it is advisable to have a water sprayer at hand or to soak the individual strands in lukewarm water just before use. This gives them flexibility and makes them easier to process.
The water hyacinth can also be used to clean a body of water. If this contains too many nutrients and is in danger of tipping over or silting up, the water hyacinths can absorb superfluous substances and bring the water back into balance.
Propagating aquatic plants by shoots
The water hyacinth is quite easy to propagate, because basically it takes over this task completely independently. Beginning in early summer or at water temperatures above 18°C, the water hyacinth forms lateral shoots. Young plants develop on these, which only have to be separated. This does not necessarily have to be done particularly quickly.
Under optimal conditions, the daughter plants grow to the size of the adult specimens within a few days and can then even be transplanted without any problems.
Propagation by seeds
As full and bright as the water hyacinth flowers, seed bodies are rarely found. However, if these occur, they can be removed and used for targeted propagation. This is particularly useful if you cannot safely overwinter the water hyacinth, for example because there is not enough space available.
However, the round seed capsules can also be kept in order to have a replacement on hand in the event of a failure.
All you have to do is remove the water hyacinth seed pods from the plant or from the water. Stored dry, they remain fertile for more than ten years. If they are to be sown, it is sufficient to place them in a water container and cover them with water. They can also be placed directly in the garden pond or the aquarium. The water temperature should be between 18°C and 25°C. It must also be as bright as possible for rapid germination.
Depending on the species and external conditions, the capsules can rupture within a few days. It usually only takes three to four weeks to go from seed to adult plant. Older seeds can take a little more time.
Beware of a plague
In countries of origin of the water hyacinth, they are known as aquatic weeds or even as a nuisance. This is ensured by the fast and problem-free propagation, as well as the resilience of the plant.
The spread can be so explosive and widespread that the water hyacinth in water bodies even impedes shipping. In addition, aquatic life and other plants suffer from the fact that large amounts of nutrients are removed from the water.
Problems for shipping are not to be expected in the aquarium and garden pond, but the number of water hyacinths should be checked. It makes sense to place and keep a maximum of three plants per square meter of surface. If these multiply, the shoots and young plants should be removed.
Typical diseases and pests
The water hyacinth is usually completely spared from diseases and pests, which is another reason for its popularity.
Only mold doesn’t stop at her. However, this only occurs with incorrect care and primarily in the winter quarters. This is due to excessive humidity and excessive temperature, combined with darkness and a lack of ventilation. If there is still stale water, fungal infestation is inevitable. Above all, gray mold can be found on the leaves and directly on the water surface.
If the water hyacinth is only slightly affected, removing the affected leaves and changing the soil and water will help. In addition, one should ventilate the room and reduce both the temperature and the humidity. If, on the other hand, the entire trunk is already greasy, brown or even black, the plant must be destroyed.
In order to prevent such an infestation, one should pay attention to optimal conditions in advance. As a precaution, it helps to change the water occasionally or – if possible – to overwinter the water hyacinth in a warm and bright place.
Is the water hyacinth poisonous?
In dried form, water hyacinth is not poisonous, but fresh it can be dangerous for some animal species and humans. To do this, however, it would be necessary to absorb extremely large amounts of the plant and especially the roots. This is inadvertently impossible and almost impossible to do even consciously.
Nevertheless, care should be taken with products made from water hyacinth. Especially if they are chewed or gnawed on, used as a toy or for storing food. The reason for this is not to be found in the plant material, but in the possible treatment. In order to make the wicker goods more resistant, in some cases they are provided with appropriate protective agents. Or tinted with colors. And these substances can be toxic if ingested orally.