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Water-saving Water Plants


Some of you may be puzzled. Why am I writing about water plants and saving water in the same article?

Because when you put them in the right kind of container, water plants take almost no watering at all.

The photo at the top of the page shows one of my mints, in a water-saving container I found at my local dump (the woman who runs it is kind enough to pull out useful items and put them by her kiosk. A small contribution to her dog-treat fund gets you your choice).

I didn’t feature this self-watering container in my series, because I’m not sure it would work for anything but plants who like to have their feet in water. The container is basically a 5-gallon bucket with another, shorter bucket of the same diameter (the red one) set into it. The bottom of the red bucket is drilled with sieve-like holes; it looks as if someone did them with a hammer and nail. (If you do that, be sure to hammer in the inside of the pail, so the little extrusion is headed toward the water. A more sophisticated way would be to drill it.)

At the end of this process, you have a short bucket with holes in the bottom sitting atop an empty space in a 5-gallon bucket. That empty space becomes the water tank.

It’s a perfect bucket for mint, containing it from running all over the place, as well as keeping it fresh and healthy. It would also work well for Siberian iris, pitcher plants, gotu kola (in summer), equisetum, even cattails and some kinds of bamboo or papyrus. Anything that likes its roots in water.

How often do I water my mint? I top it up maybe once a month with a quart or two. Granted, the first filling of the water tank takes a few gallons. Granted, it’s a little awkward and messy lifting the top bucket out of the bottom one. (But who would become a gardener if they didn’t have a tolerance, even a liking, for mess and awkwardness?) But the mint bucket sitting on top keeps water from evaporating, the mint looks fine, and the whole contraption is handy for cutting when I need it. I keep several kinds of mint this way; the buckets make it easy to have a collection that doesn’t get out of hand.

{ 17 comments… add one }

  • Genevieve August 4, 2009, 6:57 am

    Awesome, I’ve been struggling with how to grow mint so it doesn’t take over and also so that it doesn’t die in a pot from my benign neglect. Thank you Pomona!!!

  • Helen at Toronto Gardens August 4, 2009, 7:49 pm

    Great idea, Pomona. And you might have solved my problem with the siberian iris, too. I suddenly had a vision of burying such a contraption in the earth (well, sand). Have to give that some serious consideration.

  • Mosaic Queen August 5, 2009, 8:47 am

    I really like this idea!


  • Cyd August 5, 2009, 3:51 pm

    How clever! I love the lady at your local dump saving usuable things, and that she does for her dogs! I love mint and didn’t know it liked its feet wet like that.

  • Steve August 5, 2009, 8:35 pm

    Great post, Pomona. It’s funny, isn’t it? As I think you know, I have been selling water features for years in a dry climate, mentioning how that can actually conserve water, lol. People used to look at me and go………….”Huh?” Those tricks you have there are tremendously simple and very do-able. Great information, as usual.

  • Pomona Belvedere August 6, 2009, 1:22 pm

    I like the idea of burying a container like this, I may have to steal it…glad if my own ideas (plus the ideas of the anonymous container-maker) are useful. And Steve is of course right: it goes against what we think is logic, but water plants and water features are some of the most water-saving things we can do in the garden. Take it from someone who used to haul it in buckets.

  • BeWaterWise Rep September 1, 2009, 2:57 am

    Xeriscaping and having plants that demand less water is a great way to conserve water in water scarce regions like Southern California. Using native plants is also recommended in such regions. There are several other simple tips to maintain water wise garden. Some of these tips are to check for leaks in the gardening hose, install water smart sprinklers, watering the garden before sunrise or after sunset. Watering your garden with the right amount is also an important thing to consider. Bewaterwise.com has a water calculator on their site that suggest how much water you need to use in your garden, here’s the link http://bit.ly/2tv8w

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