Eichhornia water hyacinth

Height: 15-23cm (6-9in)

Water depth: any

Features: flowers summer

Site: full sun

Type: tender: floating perennial

Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) is the only species in this genus of tropical, tender evergreen floating plants widely grown in cooler climates. It needs overwintering in a greenhouse, but the extra work is worth it for the charming, lavender-blue, hyacinth-like flowers which appear in warm summers.

The glossy, dark green leaves are roughly heart-shaped. The balloon-like stems are inflated and act as floats, keeping the plants buoyant.

Though normally floating, water hyacinth can also grow in mud. It spreads rapidly and in frost-free areas can be invasive.

Cultivation

Place the plants on the surface of the water after the last spring frost. Full sun is essential.

Bring young plants into a greenhouse in early autumn and overwinter them in pots of wet soil. Put outside after the last spring frost has passed.

Alternatively, treat as an annual, and buy new stock each year.

Propagation: New plants are produced on runners in summer. When a young plant has several well-formed leaves, detach if.

Pests and diseases: Trouble free.

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