Tips For Growing Water Hyacinth Plants

Tips For Growing Water Hyacinth Plants

By: Jackie Carroll

Beautiful but destructive in the wrong environment, water hyacinths (Eichhornia crassipes) are among the showiest of water garden plants. Flower stalks that grow about six inches (15 cm.) above the foliage arise from the centers of the rosettes in spring, and by the end of spring, each plant holds as many as 20 gorgeous purple flowers. The flowers last until fall and make striking cut flowers.

How to Grow Water Hyacinth

Growing water hyacinth plants is easy. Once established, they require no special care except occasional thinning to keep them from choking out everything else in the pond. Under perfect conditions, a colony of water hyacinths can double its size every 8 to 12 days.

Water hyacinths need full sun and hot summer temperatures. Introduce them to the garden by scattering bunches of plants over the surface of the water. They quickly take hold and begin to grow. Thin the plants when they cover more than 60 percent of the water surface.

Water hyacinth plants survive winters in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11. They are best grown as annuals in places where cold winters keep them in check by killing them back. In warmer areas, these plants do become invasive. You can overwinter them indoors in a sunny spot, but they are inexpensive to replace each year. Most gardeners don’t find them worth the trouble to keep over winter.

Container Grown Water Hyacinths

A half barrel is an ideal container for a water hyacinth. The plants need full sun in garden ponds, but in containers they do best if they have shade from mid to late afternoon. Cover the inside of the barrel with a heavy duty garbage bag and then place a layer of soil in the bottom of the container. Don’t use commercial potting soil, which contains fertilizers and other chemicals that may harm the plant and encourage the growth of algae. Commercial soils also contain perlite and vermiculite, which floats to the top of the container. Cover the soil with a thin layer of sand.

City water is usually treated with chlorine or chloramine, which is harmful to plants. Garden centers sell products that remove the chlorine and chloramine from the water and make it safe for plants. There is no need to treat the small amounts of water that you use to top off the container through the season.

You can allow the plant to float on the surface of the water, or anchor it in place by attaching one end of a length of nylon string to the plant and the other end to a brick.

WARNING: Water hyacinth is a highly invasive species in areas with mild winters. The plants are banned in several states. Once they enter waterways, the plants grow and reproduce to form dense mats that choke out native species. A thick growth of water hyacinths can ensnare boat motors and make it impossible to use infested lakes for recreational purposes. The plants block out sunlight and deplete oxygen, killing off fish and other wildlife that live in the water.

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How do you grow water hyacinth seeds?

Water hyacinth produces thousands of seeds each year, which can remain viable for up to 30 years. One of the fastest growing plants known water hyacinths can double populations in two weeks. Some populations in Southeast Asia have been documented to grow up to 5 meters per day.

Furthermore, how do you grow water hyacinths at home? Container Grown Water Hyacinths The plants need full sun in garden ponds, but in containers they do best if they have shade from mid to late afternoon. Cover the inside of the barrel with a heavy duty garbage bag and then place a layer of soil in the bottom of the container.

Hereof, how do you harvest hyacinth seeds?

Collect wild hyacinth seeds between April and September from mature flower pods. Look for brown pods to assure maturity. Remove the seeds from the pods by hand or rub the pods over a screen to extract seeds. Mature seeds are small, hard and black.

Can you put water hyacinth in an aquarium?

Water hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes is a beautiful flowering plant originally from South America and used mainly in ponds. Water hyacinth isn't a practical plant for most aquariums. The plant can get quite tall if it does well, but it usually doesn't when inside.

How to Grow Hyacinths in Water

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Brightly colored hyacinths (Hyacinthus sp.) in the midst of winter bring a touch of spring to the home. These hardy bulbs produce highly fragrant blooms that range in color from delicate pink to deep purple. By starting these bulbs in a vase of water every few weeks in the fall, you can time the blooms to last for weeks. Bulb vases, sometimes sold as hyacinth vases, hold the bulb above the water while allowing the roots to stretch to the bottom to access the water they need to grow.

Place the hyacinth bulb in the top portion of the bulb vase so that the flattened end rests in the vase and the pointed end faces upward.

Fill the vase with water to within ½ inch of the bottom of the bulb. Bulbs allowed to sit in water are susceptible to rot.

Put the vase in a cool, dark area for 13 weeks. Maintain a temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit. If temperatures drop below 35 degrees, root formation ceases, while temperatures above 55 degrees cause young shoots to form too early, explains Jane Billinghurst of the Washington State University Extension office.

Monitor the bulbs frequently and replace water as necessary, using care to avoid wetting the bottom of the bulb.

Move the hyacinth bulbs to an area that is 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and receives medium light once the yellow shoots are 2 to 3 inches tall and roots are well formed. Allow the bulbs to stay in this location until the shoots turn green. This typically takes less than a week.

Place the hyacinth bulbs in a brightly lit area with temperatures between 60 and 65 degrees. Avoid direct sunlight at this time.

Replace water as necessary until the flowers bloom in two to three weeks.

Growing Hyacinths in the Garden


Hyacinths are growing from bulbs and each of them is usually producing two or three stems with blossoms (1).

These flowers are perfect for growing in a garden as they can survive severe winter conditions and enjoy exposure to lower temperatures in order to blossom properly.

To blossom in March or April, the planting of the bulbs needs to be completed in September or October, depending on the specific geographic region they are grown in

Despite the variations, they definitely need to be planted before snowfall or freezing of the upper layer of the soil. This is important for healthy root development and creating stronger and bigger blossoms in the spring.

Bulbs need to be planted on minimum 4 inches depth and a minimum of 3 inches distance from each other, so that the heavy flower stem is stable when it grows. Roots are developed soon after planting and after winter period, when the weather becomes warmer, they direct the stored energy into developing leaves and flowers.

Hyacinths are among the early bloomers, so a well-planned garden can blossom during the entire spring season (e.g. tulips blossom later). These flowers are blossoming many years, as every next one the number of stems produced by one bulb increases but each of them is with less florets.

After-blossom Care

After hyacinths flower stop blooming, you have to cut the stems but provide the leaves with the opportunity to dry out naturally. This will make the plant stronger in the following years (6).

Warning: Hyacinth bulbs are poisonous and contain oxalic acid which can cause skin irritation and allergies. You can prevent accidents through using gloves when planting or re-planting the bulbs.

Maintenance and Care

Yellow leaves indicate nutrient deficiency. Fertilizers that are not harmful to aquatic animals can be added directly into the pond. Standing the plants in Miracle-Gro for a day or two and returning them to the pond will also help.

In areas with cold winters, the plants will wither and turn to slush. Removing the plants completely in late fall will help avoid a mess. Save a few for the next growing season by keeping them in a tub in a warm, bright place indoors.

Besides being esthetically appealing, the plants have a few uses.

  • Cleaning water
  • Preventing algal blooms and purifying water contaminated with heavy metals and other toxic chemicals
  • Providing bio waste for compost - Eichhornia mats, raked off the water and allowed to dry for a day or two, can be added to compost heaps with great results.

Food Source

Rich in proteins, water hyacinths make good cattle feed. The leaves and flowers are considered good for human consumption too, but only after cooking as they contain high amounts of calcium oxalate crystals, which cause itching. Only plants growing in clean water, uncontaminated by chemical effluents, should be used.

Aquatic Life Protection

The hairy roots offer a safe zone to fish eggs and tiny fries. They are good recyclers of nitrogenous waste generated by fish and other aquatic animals. Some fish nibble the roots.

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  • 5 Simplest Tips on How to Care for a Glossy, Green Water Hyacinth

    Taking care of a water hyacinth is very easy, as the plant requires minimal maintenance. Included in the list of invasive weeds, water hyacinth care is mainly focused at controlling its overgrowth in freshwater ponds.

    Taking care of a water hyacinth is very easy, as the plant requires minimal maintenance. Included in the list of invasive weeds, water hyacinth care is mainly focused at controlling its overgrowth in freshwater ponds.

    The easiest to grow and maintain aquatic plant is the water hyacinth. There are seven varieties of this aquatic plant, all belonging to the genus Eichhornia of the family Pontederiaceae. Their leaves are glossy, green, large, and ovate shaped, with a spongy petiole at their base. A highly branched, purple-colored, and fibrous root system is present below the water surface. Based on the species, spectacular lavender or light blue flowers in groups of 8-15 are borne in a single spike inflorescence.

    Being considered as an invasive aquatic plant, not many hobbyists prefer growing water hyacinth in their ponds and rock gardens. But, what we do not know is that they are the best aquatic plant species for phytoremediation or natural treatment of polluted water, which is why it easy to take care of it. It improves the water quality by removing organic nutrients and limiting algal growth. In home ponds, care needs to be taken towards controlling excess production of stolons and seeds of this plant.

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    With the rising interest in water gardening, this aquatic plant is now sold as a special ornamental flower to grow in home ponds. In case you are planning to include this spongy floating aquatic species in landscaping, the issue is not how to grow it, but how to control its growth. It thrives well in any type of freshwater body, such as a pond, stream, or lake, provided that the water temperature is not too low or too high. Following are some tips on how to care for a water hyacinth:

    • Trim the Roots:
      You can purchase water hyacinth plants from your local nursery. Prior to introducing them in a home pond, remove the yellow and dead leaves (if any). You can also trim off the fibrous roots to a length of approximately 2 inches. This will promote new growth of roots and shoots. Once the plants are established, you can trim them every alternate week.
    • Use a Pond Skimmer:
      After growing water hyacinths in a garden pond, allow them to cover one-third of the pond surface. By doing so, you are providing a good habitat for the pond fish and other aquatic plants as well. In case of overgrowth, a pond skimmer is the best alternative to remove excess plants. You can use the cut leaves and roots to make organic fertilizers.
    • Check Excessive Growth:
      The common species (scientific name: Eichhornia crassipes) is known to increase its population size within 14 days. It is the same case with other species too in the Eichhornia genus. Excess growth of these plants can lead to suffocation of fish and other pond inhabitants. Hence, make sure that you keep an eye over the excess spreading of water hyacinth.
    • Avoid Algae Killers:
      Occasionally, the leaves turn yellow in mid summer. Under such a condition, use a mild, fish-safe organic fertilizer in an appropriate concentration. Within a few days, you will notice new healthy leaves developing from the plants. Never indulge in using algae killers and/or other chemicals, as they disturb the water chemistry of the pond.
    • Winter Care:
      It is not unusual to notice the leaves turning yellow and/or dying during cold winter months, particularly when the temperature falls below 0°F. To avoid such a situation, you can isolate some of the plants in an aquarium before winter arrives. Any freshwater aquarium with at least 6 inches of water is ideal to maintain these plants.

    If controlled properly, water hyacinths can add a unique touch to your landscape design. The only challenges are trimming the plants regularly and winter care.

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