Eichhornia crassipes, Eichornia excellent and even Terror of Bengal…
This wonderful aquatic plant is often used for landscaping artificial ponds and aquariums. This plant is able not only to decorate, but also to cleanse water from toxic substances and heavy metal. This is very important for the artificial reservoirs and its inhabitants.
Description and natural area of Eichornia
Eichhornia crassipes belongs to the Pontederiaceae family. This plant can be found in the tropics and subtropics. The native land of the plant is Brazil. The Water Hyacinth came to other regions thanks to human activities, where it became a real disaster and earned the name "water plague" (Terror of Bengal). It can grow strongly in South America, Asia, Africa, Australia filling the surface of rivers, lakes and other freshwater bodies.
The plant looks like a succulent with green leaves growing from a rosette. The size of leafs can be up to 20 cm, the surface is smooth, shiny, with clearly distinguishable longitudinal veins. Like sails, hyacinth leaves help it glide along the water surface and occupy new territories. At the base of the leaf plates of Eichornia, air cavities are located. This allows the plant to float on the surface of reservoir. The cavities have an ovoid or spherical shape. Diameter of the cavity is about 4-9 cm, with a porous, air-filled tissue inside.
Water Hyacinth spreads with long shoots reaching 2 m. The root system is fibrous, completely submerged in water. Roots can reach 0.5 m. In length. Can grow from the muddy bottom, or swim freely.
Blooming water hyacinth
In Europe Eichornia begins to bloom in July - August. The inflorescence is spikelike, directed upwards, about 15 cm high. In shape and appearance, the Eichornia inflorescence, is very similar to the flowering of Hyacinth, but without any family ties between these crops. Up to 35 flowers can be located on one inflorescence at the same time, but usually there are no more than 10-15 of them. The flowers are 6-7 cm in size, with six blue or purple petals. The upper central petal is usually the largest and widest, decorated with a pattern with a bright yellow spot.
Flowering lasts only a day, after which a polyspermous capsule appear on the flower stem. In hot climates, ripe seeds give life to new plants. However Eichornia reproduces well by whiskers.
Growing Water Hyacinth in a Pond or aquarium
In order to successfully grow and achieve flowering it is important to create favorable conditions.
In mid-latitudes this plant can fill all reservoir.
But in cold climates it is grown as an annual, and it has no chance of surviving cold winters. However in autumn died plants should be removed from the reservoir, otherwise it will spoil the water by rotting.
Eichornia is a tropical plant, and it needs warmth. The water and air temperature should be at least 20 degrees. The plant feels best on +24 - +30 degrees. In cooler conditions, the Water Hyacinth will not bloom. The best time for planting this plant is the end of spring.
Water hyacinth requires good, bright lighting. It is advisable that the reservoir is in an open place, and not in the constant shade of trees and buildings. Only light shading is allowed. Moisture-loving plants of the coastal zone can be planted nearby. They will protect Eichornia from the wind.
The presence of harmful impurities and compounds for Eichornia is not scary and even useful. It easily cleans ponds from phosphates, nitrates, oil products and other unwanted substances. This feature makes it much easier to prepare for planting, since the reservoir does not have to be specially cleaned. If possible, it is recommended to use water with a slightly alkaline reaction, although this factor does not really matter and Eichornia can grow in any water.
This is the most useful feature of the plant. Fishes and other inhabitants feels better with reasonable quantity of Eichornia in the pond or aquarium.
Soil and fertilizing
In a clean and new reservoir, the plant will lack of food. The soil should be rich in organic matter that dissolves in water, so it is recommended to add humus, silt and compost. Another way is to populate the pond with fish and other creatures (crayfish, crabs, shrimps...) which will produse natural waste. Any of this will create the necessary environment and the plant will definitely receive its portion of nutrients and micro/macroelements.
In the spring, it is useful to add some complex mineral supplements for aquatic plants to the water. In summer various leaves and parts of plants, as well as insects, will fall into the reservoir, which will serve as an additional source of nutrition. Fish and various aquatic inhabitants will enrich it with organic matter all season.
Caring for the Water Hyacinth consists in the timely pruning of the shoots. The plant must not be allowed to grow strongly and fill more than 60% of the surface of the reservoir, otherwise the water will turn sour and all the inhabitants in it will die. Each new growing shoot is cut and disposed of, as it done when pruning garden plants.
Combination with other pond plants
Eichornia goes well with other plants in pond only if it under control. Combination of several swimming plants in one reservoir (for example: duckweed, azolla and piscia) possible but difficult to control such rapidly growing plants.
Water lilies near Eichornia will look beautiful, but with strict control of rapid growth. It is possible to plant moisture-loving crops at the edge of reservoir, which are often used to design artificial reservoirs. Perfect neighbors are: Reed; Air; Pontederia; The headband; Watch. These crops will not interfere with each other, and will help to create a natural landscape. The correct combination of aquatic plants allows to create a special atmosphere of a natural peaceful corner.
Combination with fish and aquatic life
Fish and other inhabitants of reservoirs enrich the water with organic waste, and this is beneficial to Eichornia. The plant goes well with any aquatic fauna, if depth of the pond (or climate) allows to accommodate someone. In the reservoir with the Aquatic Hyacinth, various fishes, mollusks, frogs, toads, snails and turtles can coexist.
The thermophilic tropical beauty must be moved indoors before the cold weather. Too cold night temperatures below + 8 - + 10 destroy this plant. Eichornia will perfectly winter in plastic container or aquarium in home. How to plant it in container or aquarium written in below.
But if there are a lot of Eichhornias in pond before winter, it should be deleted from pond and recycled - rotting plant will spoil the water.
How to grow water hyacinate in a container
To do this, a young healthy rosette with roots no more than 10 cm should be selected. Young plants must be put in a container with wet peat or a soil mixture consisting of equal parts of garden soil and sand. Container must be placed on a tray with water and placed in a warm, well-lit place. To maintain high humidity, a small greenhouse from a glass jar or bag can be built.
It is important to protect the plant from temperature extremes. In the room with the Eichornia container, the temperature should not be lower than + 24 - +25 degrees, otherwise the plant will begin to turn black and soon die. It is also recommended to leave a little space between the leaves and the walls of the greenhouse so that the plant feels free.
If you still manage to save the Water Hyacinth in winter, then it can be planted again in the reservoir in May-June.
Water hyacinth in the aquarium
It is much easier to create the necessary conditions in the aquarium. To do this aquarium should be filled with water from a reservoir or clean aquarium water. Sludge from a pond or a nutrient substrate can also be used as substrate. It is important to maintain the water temperature within 20-22 degrees and provide the plant with good lighting for 10-12 hours. It is also recommended to feed the Water Hyacinth with a complex mineral fertilizer if it winter in water without soil.
Growing Eichornia in an aquarium
A home aquarium, paludarium or terrarium can be a good place to keep this tropical flower. In good conditions, the plant will certainly flowering with its magnificent flowers.
Landing of Eichornia
Mostly like in pond, but at least 20 cm must remain between the surface of the water and the lid of the aquarium. The plant sinks into the water and floats freely
It is preferable to plant Eichornia not in a classic aquarium, but in a paludarium or aquaterrarium.
Planting in a paludarium or aquaterrarium is carried out in the following sequence:
1. A layer of soil 10 cm thick is poured onto the bottom of the glass container.
2. The roots of the seedling are carefully added.
3. Pour water so that the rosette floats on the surface of the water, and the roots remain in the substrate.
Lighting in aquatium
Water Hyacinths need a lot of light. For this, 3.2 W fluorescent lamps are suitable. The aquarium can be placed closer to the window so that the flower receives some natural light. Comfortable daylight hours for a plant - at least 11-12 hours.
The usual water temperature should be at least 22-24 degrees. During the flowering period, it is recommended to increase this figure to 28 degrees. hte best plase it troopical aquariums.
The water in the aquarium should be soft, no more than 2-6 degrees of hardness. The acidity index is about 6-6.7 pH. I
It is advisable to feed Eichornia with specialized preparations for aquatic plants. If fish and other inhabitants live in the aquarium, then feeding is not required - there is enough organic matter in the water and soil to feed the hydrophyte.
Timely pruning is very important, especially in closed ecosystem. In warmth and with a sufficient amount of light and nutrients, Eichornia can grow strongly and interfere with the life of other inhabitants. It can close all water surface and make strong shade beneath.
Therefore it is necessary to cut off and remove the processes that appear from the axils of the leaves.
What animals and fish does Water Hyacinth combine with?
The plant gets along well with goldfish, zebrafish, cardinals and other colorful fish, as well as a variety of molluscs, crustaceans and snails. If Eichornia grows in a paludarium or terrarium, then newts, frogs and toads can be added to it.
Reproduction of Water Hyacinth
In nature, the "green plague" multiplies exponentially with the help of shoots and seeds.
The seed method requires constant heating, humidity, high temperature and a lot of time, so shoots are often used instead. Seeds can only be germinated in a greenhouse at a temperature not lower than +36 degrees, otherwise they will simply rot. The seeds germinate for a long time and if everything is done correctly, then in a couple of months shoots will begin to appear.
The growth rate of Eichornia is truly amazing. In hot climates, one floating bush gives life to about 100 new plants per month, releasing whisker-branches like those of garden strawberries. To propagate Eichornia, it is enough just not to cut off the lateral shoot, but leave 3-4 of its own leaves until the appearance. After that, it can be separated from the mother bush and transplanted.
It is necessary to work with the plant with gloves, since the contact of the juice on the skin causes severe irritation.
Diseases and pests
In the middle latitudes, Eichornia has no natural enemies. Occasionally, aphids and weevils can eat it, but they are not capable of causing much harm.
Diseases and difficulties in growing a plant can only arise due to improper care. The following signs can indicate errors in care:
Dark spots on the leaves - lack of fresh air or a draft.
Multiple dark brown spots on the leaf blades - root decay. To prevent rotting of the root system, hyacinths are placed on special floats.
The tips of the leaves darken - dry air.
Lack of flowering - the temperature of the content is below 25-28 degrees.
Other types of Eichornia
In addition to EichorniaExcellent, other representatives of the Eichornia genus are actively used in aquaristics and landscape design. These plants differ in appearance, as well as in the way they are grown.
This species grows not only on the surface, but also under water. The height of the plant reaches 60 cm. The upper leaves are round, up to 8 cm long. The lower underwater leaves are narrow, long, pointed, reaching 15 cm in length. Externally, the foliage of Eichornia Lazoreva resembles palm leaves, which gives the plant an exotic look. This hydrophyte is quite moody and demanding, but can be a great backdrop for tropical and colorful fish.
In addition to the spectacular underwater part, Eichorniya Lazorevaya can boast of its flowering. A large inflorescence of the plant contains up to 12 flowers. In aquarium cultivation, it is recommended to periodically prune to prevent the algae from reaching the surface of the water and blooming. Therefore, this species is grown only as an ornamental deciduous plant.
Comfortable water parameters for Eikhorniya Lazoreva: temperature 18-30 degrees, pH 4-7, hardness 2-16 degrees. Lighting should be bright, at least 12 hours a day. The power of fluorescent lamps is about 0.7 W / l. A mixture of clay and sand is suitable as a soil. For good plant growth, good filtration and a 25% water change every week are also important.
Eichornia Diversifolia (Eichhornia diversifolia)
This species differs in that it grows only under water, without forming an upper part. Eichornia Varifolia loves deep aquariums and grows up to 50 cm in height. The elongated leaves of the plant can be colored in different shades of green.
The plant is quite unpretentious and gets along well with a variety of tropical fish. It can be used to create dense vegetation in the background of the aquarium. Eichornia varifolia grows only in clean water, so it is very important to change at least 20% of the contents of the aquarium weekly. Coarse sand and pebbles are used as soil. Comfortable water parameters: temperature 22-28 degrees, hardness 0-6 degrees, pH 6-7.
Water Hyacinth is a beautiful and interesting thermophilic plant. Tropical culture is quite capricious, but if you take into account its peculiarities and provide everything you need, then it will surely grow and decorate any body of water or aquarium.