|At one time or another we will all face the challenge of transplanting our
plants in our water garden. It is just a “given” that all plants will grow
and soon out grow their home.
The time of the year for transplanting pond plants will depend on the
particular plant involved. Spring blooming Iris should be transplanted in early
fall, August or September so that the plant will have time to become established
before the plant goes dormant. With Iris for example if you wait until spring to
transplant you may sacrifice blooms for that year. If you did not get your Iris
transplanted before it went dormant, all is not lost. You can wait until after
it has bloomed this spring and divide it then or if it is not too pot-bound
leave it until the fall. One thing is for certain once you see the sides ripping
out in the pot it is time to plan to transplant.
Some water plants have thick fibrous roots, Iris, perennial rice, water
cannas to name a few. These can be real buggers to transplant but it is a little
easier if the plant has actually split the pot. Take a sharp knife, a utility
knife works great, and cut the pot away from the roots. I like to work outside
in the grass for the next step because it involves taking a garden hose and
washing all the soil away and that can be a messy job. Place the hose with the
water running up in the roots and gently wash away all the soil. This makes it
easier to see what you are doing.
The next step involves cutting apart the plant. For the fibrous rooted plants
you need a very sharp long knife. I have found that a serrated knife works best
and at times I have actually brought out a small saw! With Iris you will see
fan-shaped divisions and each fan is one new plant if you look closely at the
crown (center) of the plant. It is easier if you cut from the top down next to
each fan. With some plants you may be able to actually pull the divisions apart
but that has not been my experience with Iris. They are tough little plants.
Using a sawing motion, saw back and for through the rhizome, making as clean a
cut as possible. Gently pull any roots away that are not attached to the
rhizome. You will loose some roots but don’t worry about those because new
ones will grow back fairly fast.
I prefer to put my Iris in larger 2 and 3 gallon nursery pots because they do
grow very fast so make sure that you have plenty of nursery pots on hand before
you start the division process.
In the bottom of the pot place a couple sheets of folded newspapers or a
piece of burlap. This will keep the soil from going out the holes in the pot and
into the pond where it can turn the water murky. The newspaper or burlap will
rot away so there is no need to worry about it in the pond.
My soil of choice is garden soil and a mixture of bagged topsoil, equal
amounts of the two mixed together. If your garden soil can grow flowers or
vegetables it can also grow water plants. When buying the bagged topsoil it is
important to make sure that the bag says topsoil and not potting soil.
The later is lightweight and it can float out of the pot and into the pond.
Begin by putting a couple of inches of soil in the bottom of the pot while
holding the plant upright and bring the level of soil up to about two inches
from the crown of the plant. Gently tamp the soil down with your hand as each
layer is added to make sure that there are no air pockets. Once the pot is
filled with soil make a couple of holes with your fingers near the out side edge
of the pot and then push a pond fertilizer tablet in each hole that you made.
Next top everything with gravel. Most use pea gravel unless you have large fish.
If you have large fish then use larger stones making sure that they are big
enough that your largest fish can not pick it up in its mouth.
Once the above steps are completed we like to place the newly potted plant in
a bucket and slowly fill the bucket with tap water. Leave the planted pot in the
bucket until it has soaked up water. We have found that if we do this first that
there is little or no dirt that goes in the pond once we submerge the plant in
the pond. Once the plant has soaked up the water from the bucket it can then be
added to the pond.