Aponogeton Cape pondweed, water hawthorn

Height: surface floater

Water depth: 45-60cm (1 1/2-2ft)

Features: flowers spring to winter

Soil: neutral or slightly acid

Site: sun or partial shade

Type: semi-hardy deep-water

Cape pondweed or water hawthorn (Aponogeton distachyos) was one of the first Southern Hemisphere aquatics to be used in the Northern Hemisphere as an outdoor plant, having been introduced in 1788.

It is an easy plant to grow, is not invasive, and is also one of the few water plants that tolerate shade.

In spring, Cape pondweed puts up oval green floating leaves. These are semi-evergreen and often blotched with brown. The spread is 30-90cm (1-3ft).

Soon after, the waxy flowers appear in a display that may continue until early winter. When first open, the flowers are pure white with black anthers, but after four or five days thev become cream coloured or green-white and subsequently turn completely green as they fade.

The flowers are arranged in a V-shaped cluster up to 10cm (4in) across, and stand above the surface of the water. They have a delicate, vanilla – or hawthorn-like scent, hence one of its common names -water hawthorn. They make beautiful cut flowers, which last several days.


Grow in still or slow-moving water in neutral or slightly acid soil. It tolerates partial shade, although the flowers are more profuse if grown in full sun.

Set each tuber in a crate or basket of rich soil, covered with fine washed shingle. Place in the bottom of a pond, at a depth of at least 45cm (1 Vik) to ensure that the tuber does not freeze.

Alternatively, the tubers can be planted in position by pushing them info the soil on the bottom of the pool.

If you are introducing more than one plant, set the tubers at least 15cm (6in) apart.

Propagation: In late spring, divide old tubers which have several crowns and replant.

Pests and diseases: Trouble free.

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