How To…

Winterize Your Plants

Long after the impatiens have been pulled out, water gardeners are still hoping for that last water lily bloom. We want to squeeze every leaf, bud and blossom out of our aquatic plants before winter.

Unfortunately, cold weather often comes before we’ve trimmed the cattails or pruned the lilies. Wait too long, however, and all those beautiful leaves will fall off and rot in the water. Not good for your fish. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Trim bog and marsh plants such as papyrus, taro and cattails before frost hits.
  • Trim all lilies planted directly in the pond, as close to the tuber as possible. Pull out the potted water lilies and trim off all the leaves. Yes, even that last bud!
  • Put all the potted plants into the deepest area of the pond to prevent freeze damage.
  • Tropical lilies won’t survive the winter and are often treated as annuals and discarded in autumn. But here’s a hint on how to save them:
    • Some water gardeners have saved tropical lilies by storing them in peat moss. Trim off the leaves and roots and cover the rhizomes in a tray of damp (not wet) peat moss. The peat moss has antiseptic properties and helps inhibit rotting of the rhizome. The tray of peat moss should be kept in a cool basement or garage and sprayed with water periodically to prevent drying out.
  • Inexpensive submerged plants, such as Elodea, Anacharis and Cabomba should
    be discarded, as well as floating plants like water lettuce, and water hyacinths.