How to Start a Water Garden

Why Water Gardening?

Here on Kaua’i we are beyond fortunate to be able to maintain gorgeous water gardens year-round.  Our climate can support both tropical and hardy water lilies, lotuses, bog and surface plants to create a living water ecosystem.  No need to worry about weeding and the inclusion of fish, dragonflies or damselflies will lessen the mosquitos in your area.

There are a few basic principles to consider when starting a water garden including the pot you choose, the plants and animals you want to encourage (or discourage), the amount of sunlight, and the combination of these elements to keep your water balanced. Think of it like the microbiome of your gut: a balance of the good bacteria is optimal – and you certainly don’t want to have a sterile environment!  When you cover the basics of a balanced ecosystem, you are following a formula for success.  Not only will you enjoy the beauty of your waterscape, but there are also many additional benefits to your health and wellbeing.

Ka wai ola or ‘the water of life’ is the Hawaiian sentiment that captures the value of this powerful element. Placing reverence and respect in cultivating a positive relationship with water can help us harness the ‘wai’ (water) to bring ‘waiwai’ (abundance and prosperity) into our lives.  By using principles of feng shui, we can energetically shift the flow of energy into our homes to be more balanced and peaceful, welcoming the flow of abundance.  It is said to be good feng shui to include a water garden at the entrance of your home, drawing a powerful flow of positive energy and wealth into your life.

Choosing a Pot

When choosing your water garden vessel there are a few things to consider including the shape, size, and location of the container.  A fire-glazed ceramic pot that is the same height as its width is ideal for both shady and sunny spots. You can fill in holes with hydraulic cement on holey containers and almost anything can be made into a water garden! Tall and narrow pots work well as an architectural statement piece and can include bold or graceful vertical plants that make a beautiful addition to sideline posts, trees and entrances.  Shallow and wide pots are best for shady areas.  Sunny spots work well with deeper pots and you will want to include surface plants to provide shade cover over the water. 

How much sunlight?

Being aware of how much sun your water garden gets will determine the plant choices that will work best.  Plants such as water lilies need a minimum of 4-6 hours of sunlight to thrive and keep the blooms surfacing year-round.

Underwater Elements: A Balanced Ecosystem

Our beloved water lilies – many of which can bloom all year long here in Hawai’i, are a captivating focal point for your water garden.  We must remember, however, to include underwater plants and aquatic life that work to keep the delicate balance of the ecosystem.  Clarifying plants such as Feathered Hornwort, Tape Grass and Anacharis work to break down the extra nutrients in the water.  Platy fish and Ramshorn snails work to keep your water clean by feeding off the algae, decaying plant matter, and excess waste.  Ramshorn snails are the ones that look like cinnamon rolls and they are your friend.  The pointy shelled snails will munch on your living plants so if you see them, scoop them out or feed them to your fish. Your water garden will likely attract other creatures such as frogs, toads and dragonflies – each of which can have a helpful role. Tadpoles assist by eating string algae, platies and dragonflies are notorious mosquito hunters.

If water gardening is something you may be interested in, come check out our selection of pots. We just received a shipment and we will be offering a special on water garden packages while supplies last. Our packages include $49, $99, or $198 set-ups that include the clarifying plants, fish and snails to start your very own water garden. You will have a choice of a decorative plant that will bring your water garden to life.

Lastly, we would like to announce our 2020 Dragonfly and Damselfly Photo Contest winner!  Congratulations to David Foster for the winning submission (shown). Second place is awarded to Aaron Emayo and third place is awarded to Kaeo Bradford. Thank you to all that submitted!

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