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Diggin' It

Plants that fight algae in the water garden

When the water garden turns green in spring, how to fight that algae? These plants will help.

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Sedges – Carex riparia and Carex obnupta, Bowles golden grass (Carex elata ‘Aurea’) – and rushes like Juncus effusus and the smaller Juncus ensifolius bring color and movement to the water's edge.

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Two more rushes, Typha minima and T. laxmannii, are elegant varieties that top out at two to four feet – a size welcome in many water arrangements.

As a rule, plants with larger leaf surfaces are heavier nitrogen feeders.

Consider water pickeral (Pontederia cordata) and arrowhead (Sagittaria sagittifolia). For luxuriant drama, try Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’ and Canna ‘Cleopatra’.

Unfortunately, your beautiful waterlilies are plants you can’t count on to go into battle. Although they do discourage algae by shading the surface, they are the least effective when it comes to nitrogen uptake.

Invasiveness in water plants varies around the country. Always check your local regulations before adding new plants to your water garden.

Mary-Kate Mackey is one of nine garden writers who blog regularly at Diggin' It. She is co-author of “Sunset’s Secret Gardens — 153 Design Tips from the Pros” and contributor to the “Sunset Western Garden Book,” writes a monthly column for the Hartley Greenhouse webpage and numerous articles for Fine Gardening, Sunset, and other magazines. She teaches at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism & Communication. She writes about water in the garden for Diggin’ It.

To read more by Mary-Kate, click here. The Diggin' It blog archive has everyone's posts (scroll down]. The Monitor’s main gardening page offers articles on many gardening topics. See also our RSS feed. You may want to visit Gardening With the Monitor on Flickr. If you join the group (it’s free), you can upload your garden photos and enter our next contest.

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