Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Typha (Cattails)

This first cattail is a miniature, Thypha minima. It has a cylindrical rather than a flat leaf and is only about 15 inches tall. It is the perfect plant for a tiny pond with a miniature waterlily. All cattails grow in shallow water. They need still water and won't be happy in a flowing stream. Even this tiny one will multiply aggressively if happy, so be prepared to thin it at least once a year.
Here's a closeup of the bloom on the miniature cattail. Most years they are round balls as opposed to the longer blooms on the larger cattails.

This is the midsized version, Typha laxmanii. It is probably about 3 feet tall and has more slender flat leaves than the huge cattails we know from damp spots on the sides of roads around here. It is delicate and lovely, and, again, will need dividing once a year after the clump reaches the size you want. We have this one growing in a pot in the pond so it can be away from the shallow edge. When potting up things to put in ponds, forget about the good potting soil and use a heavier garden soil or you'll find that all of your 'dirt' has floated away once the pot is put in the pond. A topping of gravel or sand on top of the pot will also help keep the dirt in and provide a little weight to keep it in place, especially in the beginning.

This is a prettier version of the large cattail, Typha latifolia 'Variegata'. It's a bit hard to see in the picture, but the leaves are vertically striped green and cream/white. It has always been a harder one to establish, but once it finds a spot that is to its liking, it will provide a nice accent for your pond or bog.
Jane - in foggy Appalachian Ohio this morning

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