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Water Hawthorne

Learn how you can grow the floating water hawthorne plant in your pond or water garden.

By Kelly Billing

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Supplement to “Low-Maintenance Plants” by Kelly Billing, Ponds USA & Water Gardens, 2013 annual magazine, Vol. 16.

Water Hawthorne
Scientific name:
Aponogeton distachyus
Zone: 4
Height: Leaves lie flat on the surface

This lilylike aquatic with floating leaves is the perfect complement to hardy waterlilies. Because they grow and bloom during alternate seasons, water hawthorne and waterlilies can be interplanted in the same pot to create a nearly year-round display. Water hawthorne thrives from early fall through spring when the water is cold, and it goes dormant in the summer months while the waterlilies are in full swing. When ice forms on the surface, the existing flowers and foliage will die, but new growth remains under the ice waiting to emerge at first thaw.

The crisp white flowers are delicate, but numerous and extremely fragrant. Bringing the flowers in from the cool spring or fall air into a warm house releases the light but sweet aroma into the air. They will last in a vase as a cut flower for nearly two weeks. They have long, narrow straplike leaves that nestle nicely with the waterlily leaves during the seasons of transition.

Water hawthorne should be avoided in earth-bottom ponds and ponds with rock or gravel bottoms because they seed heavily. Lined ponds don’t present a problem because seedlings can be easily extracted if they become too numerous.

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