NANFA-- Pond Plants Repotted

Jeffrey Fullerton (
Sun, 01 Apr 2001 22:44:56 -0400

Pond Update 01/04/01

After a long and hard winter it's nice to see spring breaking out all
over. Today was much warmer than expected and when I went to check on
the ponds I was delighted to hear the quacking and chucking of Wood
Frogs- Rana sylvatica in the resivore pond that Mike & I refurbished a
couple weeks ago with a good cleaning and then a geotextile covering
which had been stuborn and refused to stay down until I drained the
basin out and threw in a thin covering of sand and clay. Now it is
looking more like a vernal pool habitat which I will futher enrich with
various plants that like to grow in seasonally dry pools - and already
the amphibians that use this pond are starting to move back in as if
nothing happened.

Build it and they will come. This is my source of water for irrigation
and topping off other ponds during times of drought. It doubles as a
breeding habitat for frogs and salamanders- plus it probably also helps
divert raccoons and other varmits away from my main pond - the one
scheduled for maintenance today. The resivore pond sort of deviates from
my rule of keeping the plants in containers because it is more of a
wildlife pond and I want a covering of soil or geotextile to protect the
liner from exposure to sun when the pond is drawn down over the course
of a long dry summer.

Today's agenda was to test the goop removal system and repot some of
the plants in my largest permanant pond. But it was not going to be an
easy task. First I was hindered by a blockage in the hose and punctured
my sock foot waders when I snagged on the fence. Had to borrow Mike's
smaller pair. We
borrowed the pump from the spotts pond to flush the line and that pushed

out the clog. Then I got into the pond which was horribly cold despite
having longjohns & jeans on. The plan was working - I was picking up
plenty of silt and bits of decayed plant material but the bigger peices
of leaves and dead hornwort stems kept clogging the tubing so I gave up
on syphoning and took my dredging net and went after the leaves instead.

Had to take a break and warm up. My feet were numb and cold despite the
extra layers. When I went back at it - I put on sweat pants over the
longjohns and jeans and three pairs of socks. That worked alot better
and I was able to commence syphoning. Progress was slow, compounded by
sediments still in suspension so after I got a good bit off the deeper
sections of the pond I proceeded to remove some planters- the two white
pond lilies-
Nymphea odorata minor and a huge tree pot with a mixture of Cutleaf and
Variable Milfoil. The lilies ; planted in 1990 were in square
baskets and had escaped over the edges since they were last thinned in
97 (when I changed liners). One of them had sprawled all over the place
with so much growth and lots of mud clinging to the roots that it
weighed at least 4 times as much as that remaining in the basket. It
broke off when I lifted to carry it out of the pond and I had to go back

for the basket!

Also I ended up splitting the seat in Mike's waders when I climbed out
of the pond. No biggie considering they also had a hole in them. Looks
like I'll have to repair the puncture in the others before I can wade
again- or else pray for warmer weather!

Then I proceeded to set up everything so I could stage a repotting demo
on videotape. Got the planters, buckets of clay and sand and pea gravel
ready- then retrieved the Spatterdock - Nuphar variegatum I collected on

my visit to Ray Wolff in Wisconsin last summer plus two conventional
plastic pots (with holes) and two clumps of Whorled Milfoil -
Myriophyllum verticilliatum in similar pots. When everything was in
place I got Mike to come out with the cam and film me doing the whole
thing starting with the
spatterdock in a large duraflex tub and then three good sized divisions
of the N. odorata minor in large Lerio tubs- then as it started to rain
potted the Milfoils in the 8X5 inch Lerios. These brand are from the
same manufacturer that makes black plastic nursery containers- but the
ones for water gardens have no holes to leach soil and fertilizers or
let plants escape into the pond.

Of course there will always be some plants that will jump their
containers no matter what - but this is still an improvement over what I

My proceedure for the Nuphar was a layer of heavy clay mixed with a
scoops of Martha Stewart's Acid-loving Plant Food & a dash of Ironite.
Then cover with another layer of clay- loam and unpot the plant and set
the root ball ontop the clay and spread out some of the roots a bit. I
was impressed with this plant considering my doubts last summer
regarding the small portion of rhizome I was able to get loose in the
marsh. I positioned the rhizome with the broken end near the edge of the

pot and the growing point aimed to the center. This will make it less
likely to jump the pot and grow into the pond - but eventually it will
anyways- typical for all spatterdocks as they spread out.

The Nymphea odorata minor were planted in similar fashion. Both it and
the spatterdocks are covered with pea gravel. My method for milfoils is

a little different - I put about two inches of one part sand and one
part clay , pack it down then cover with plain sand. I set the milfoil
roots or in other cases cuttings on the sand then more sand then top
with pea gravel. Milfoils and other bunch plants don't get any
fertilizer- they really don't need any more encouragement and I want
them to feed from the water. I will be experimenting with plants in
baskets of gravel with no soil this summer. Right now I'm getting the
plants out of baskets and into solid tubs and pots to cut down on
nutrients getting into the water. This will hopefully curtail the brown
fuzzy alage that tries to smother my milfoils and some of the other

In addition I repotted some quillworts and more Creeping Sedge - Juncus
repens- the latter from Florida in 1996. These went into 4" Lerio pots-
these were done prior to the filming. Then I repotted the remaining Cape

Fear Spatterdock - Nuphar sagittifolium after Mike took the cam inside.
This plant is apparently much tougher than we've given credit for - it
survived a couple weeks out of the pond exposed to some pretty cold
temps with just some wet leaves and burlap covering them. It had a nice
flower bud that turned to mush but the growing points are still alive
and well. I initially was going to pull this one out and pot up the
divisions for sale but I decided today to replant it in the pond. It was

a simple matter of tipping the tub - then easing the whole mass of wet
clay out and cutting off the bottom two inches to make room for a layer
of fresh clay enriched with fertilizer in the bottom of the tub. Then I
put it back in and gave it a fresh topping of gravel.

The cutleaf & variable milfoils mentioned earlier were heavily coated
with algae so they will have to be cleaned off and grown out a bit so I
can identify and separate the two species before returning them to the

Well I had to quit then because of the rain so now all the repotted
plants- except for the smaller pots of whorled milfoils, sedges and
(which went back into the water) are sitting on shore with a covering of

soaked burlap. I'll have to check the forecast tonite. If we are staying

above freezing I can let everything as is till morning. If not, then
I'll have to get my waders on and move the planters back into the pond.
Despite the dreary conditions today was actually good for handling pond
plants since there was less worry about them getting scorched by the
sun. I hope to get everything in the pond repotted this week so I can
have that project finished as the good season for herping and fishing
trips gets underway. As it looks now- the matter of cleaning up the goop

will become a regular maintenance function.

Glad I thought about screwing the short extension of my Python onto a
garden hose - that's much less expensive than buying a whole new vinyl
hose. If I keep up with it I should have much of the silt out of there
after a few more runs and then maybe every few weeks to keep it from
building up. There will go another source of nutrients for the algae
though also a habitat for scuds and aquatic worms and other critters the

fish feed on. Hopefully when I start shifting some of the pickerel weeds

and other plants to baskets of lava rock these refugia will compensate
for the loss of silt and decayed leaves. Thinking about a pond skimmer -

if I can design one from scratch- I'm not spending hundreds of

0h geez I can't believe how late it is. And we've turned the clocks
ahead too!

Well good to know that we've hit that milestone as well as the real
beginning of spring. Since the rains were warmer tonite it might
actually be good for road hunting amphibians but Mike and my other
herping buddies probably have to get to bed early tonite.

I better likewise.
Need my rest to deal with that big pile of water lily rhizomes and
another pile of Cape Fear Spatterdocks left over from a prior operation.
Good thing I saved all those plastic nursery containers over the years
and bought a few more kiddie pools! I've decided to - excuse the
expression - get my feet wet in the pond business this season!

Good nite All.

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