Gardening

Blooming Water Hyacinths in a Cool Climate

The stunning blooms of the water hyacinth require plenty of heat. Photo: Wouter Hagens, Wikimedia Commons

The gorgeous water hyacinth*, Eichhornia crassipes, a floating plant popular in water gardens, is known for its spikes of violet flowers reminiscent of hyacinths by their shape (but not their scent: they have none). It has curiously swollen air-filled leaf petioles that help it float (they look as if they had swallowed a tennis ball!) 

However, a water hyacinth will often bloom little or not at all in temperate climates. The problem? It needs heat in order to bloom and it finds the water temperature in many temperate water gardens positively frigid. 

With lots of sunlight and tropical heat, water hyacinths will bloom up a storm! Photo: @gouvelaenia

Instead of launching your water hyacinth into a big pond that will take ages to heat up, try growing in a pot of its own in a very sunny location protected from the wind (thus warmer than normal). And choose a black or dark pot that absorbs heat. Try that and you’ll have abundant flowers all summer long! 

*This is a highly invasive plant in tropical countries and should never be released into the wild.

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, laidbackgardener.blog will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

1 comment on “Blooming Water Hyacinths in a Cool Climate

  1. That last comment makes me cringe! It is one of the worst of the aggressively invasive exotics in California, even though not many of us must contend with it. The San Joaquin River Delta is loaded with it, and huge piles of it get dumped on the banks of the canals. Surprisingly, it blooms adequately here, even though it does not get very hot for very long.

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