July 2003

Fragrant Water Lily: Nymphaea odorata     Water Lily mat


Origin: North East United States





 You'll need a little patience. This month's featured plant article is going to be more about water gardening in paludariums and less about the actual plant, which is the water lily. But if you stick it out, it will be worth it in the end.

So what's a paludarium, you may be asking? It's sort of a cross between a terrarium and a planted aquarium. Well-suited to indoor locations, paludariums offer a side view of a pond, a river's edge, a sandy beach or even a flooded forest. There are as many variations as there are habitats but all paludariums include some emerged and some submerged area within the same tank. It adds another dimension to the aquatic experience. By incorporating plants on top, a waterfall or stream, and perhaps a year-round blooming water lily (finally the pay-off), scenes of a lush tropical rainforest spring to mind. Add fish, frogs, a salamander or a turtle, and a nature saga unfolds before your very eyes. So how do you build one of these mini water gardens? It's not that difficult.


Supplies Needed                   


Palludarium Directions            

  1. Cut " hardware cloth or plastic mesh to fit tank for land area. Cut to create desired shoreline.
  2. Cut filter pad to match mesh cloth with 1" overhang on all sides to secure a tight fit against the tank walls.
  3. Place bricks, pump, and mesh into aquarium. Cut a hole in the mesh for the pump cord and air tubing.
  4. Cut and place filter pad over the mesh. Cut a slit into the pad to accommodate pump cord and air tubing.
  5. Use extra filter padding around the sides and back of soil to keep it in place. Add a heavy clay soil that is mixed with water to a paste-like consistency. Plant bare-root tropical marginal aquatic plants into this soil.
  6. Use the same soil mix to plant bare-rooted miniature tropical water lily in water section of aquarium.
  7. Use pea gravel to cover water lily soil and bottom of aquarium. Pea gravel can be used in marginal plant area or plant an azolla to create a mossy ground cover.
  8. Add water very slowly to keep the muddying to a minimum. The soil will settle from the water within a day or two.
  9. The roots of the marginal plants will grow down through the filter pad and mesh into the water as the plants gain lushness and new growth.
  10. Use a large stone to hide the pump outlet. After a few days or when the plants have gotten settled in, you may add some wildlife to your set-up and then enjoy the show!