Need help with water hyacinths

gknee_50July 24, 2009

My hyacinths are slowing turning brown. I have pulled off the dead leaves.....they were very healthy when I first put them in my pond, but are now slowing dying. The weather here has been raining for the past 2 weeks so I'm not sure if that is a factor. I do add Green Clean once in awhile...but it says on the container that it will not harm plants or fish. Any ideas on how I can help my plants become heathly again? Thank you!

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Water hyacinths like full sun and warmish weather. The weather we've been having up and down the East Coast and in the Northeast have not been that great...obviously!! You can help them a bit with adding 'stump remover' aka, potassium can calculate the levels needed from this Excel spreadsheet below. You can also add a bit of chelated iron ... 'liquid iron'... to help green them up. For our pond I typically add a tablespoon of each about once a week. Today I just threw away about 5-5 gallon buckets of hornwort and water hyacinths. If you're not getting sufficient sun due to shade issues check the trees and shrubs around you to see who/when shade is being cast on the pond and decide whether or not you need to do a bit of pruning. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Excel spreadsheet for calculating chemical dosages

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 6:15PM
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hardin(7 SE OK)

gknee, I am having the same problem. Mine are in full all day sun and it has been very warm here, in the 90's and 100's, with hardly any rain at all. They have been struggling for weeks.
I also thought I read somewhere, that when they bloom, they aren't getting the nutrients they need. I wonder if that is true? Mine haven't bloomed much though, only had about 5 blooms in the last 3 weeks. Good luck with yours.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 6:48PM
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clarke(7a, Northern VA)

Last year I had a terrible problem with string algae. It was all over the hyacinth roots. I could never get control of the stringy stuff. This year I got the hyacinths in the pond early, and they have done great. I have had more blooms this year that ever before. What string algae I get can bee removed my hand. I would look at the root structure of your hyacinths. Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 11:15AM
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hardin(7 SE OK)

In looking at the root structure of the WH, what do I want to look for and what can I do to help, if there is a problem of some sort?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 12:47PM
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clarke(7a, Northern VA)

It should be nice and full. When I had the algae problem last year, the roots were covered in string algae. I'm pretty sure that the algae was keeping the nutrients from the WH roots.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 1:54PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Koi will eat the roots of WH cause them to die or decline because they can't get enough nutrients. They should have really big root systems. Koi will munch them right down.

I don't think string algae would hurt them. I have never bothered to clean it off any of my plants and never a
problem. It isn't parasitic where it would suck from the plant nor completely coat them so they could not suck from the water.

Algaecides can say they won't hurt plants but algae is a plant. Using algaecides can and does hurt plants. Whether it kills them or not depends on what kind of plant and it's health to begin with but no algaecide is 100% harmless to ornamental plants. Not knowing exactly how many gallons of water is in your pond is a big problem when you use salt or algaecides.....

You can fertilize water hyacinths and water lettuce by soaking them in a bucket with a dilute solution of liquid fertilizer such as Miracle Gro. Then rinse them off and put back into the pond.

They are native to the tropics and want sun and heat and warm water. If your local weather is cool and cloudy they won't thrive.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 8:07PM
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hardin(7 SE OK)

I have part of my WH up in the filterfalls and rest in the pond and they both still look bad. I begining to wonder if my pond is too 'clean', The water is clear, so that's not a problem. I have placed part of them in fertilizer for few days, and that hasn't helped. I will have to keep trying, thanks for all the suggestions.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 11:57AM
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I soaked my pathetic water hyacinths in a bucket of Miracle Grow for 5 days a week ago, and I now have greener, growing plants back in the pond. I was hesitant to do it, but it's the only thing that has worked for these plants in 2 summers.

Every time I would put new healthy green plants in the pond they would turn yellow and then brown and mushy in only a few days. My water is tested regularly and it is "perfect", that isn't what is causing this to happen.

I think from now on, I will give the plants a shot of miracle grow in a bucket BEFORE putting them out in the pond at the beginning of the season.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 11:58AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

If your pond really lacks nutrients then you may have to soak them periodically. They tend to get yellowish streaks when they need it.

They need time in the fertilizer and time to green up afterwards.

You want high nitrogen fertilizer not bloom boosters which are high phosphorus.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 4:07PM
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Thanks for all of the ideas my fellow ponders! I'll try soaking them in Miracle Grow for several days and see if they green up and stop using the Green Clean.
Appreciate the help!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 4:58PM
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clarke(7a, Northern VA)

This year is the best my hyacinths have ever done. The ones in my skippy filter are about two feet tall! I haven't done anything different this year. The fish are bigger, so maybe there is more nutrients for them to thrive on.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 5:21PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Nice pond!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 8:33PM
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hardin(7 SE OK)

clarke, you have gorgeous WH. Mine look so terrible and sad, I can't believe it. There is something really wrong with mine. I am wanting to toss them out, but it is the only shade the fish have right now, meager though it may be.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 11:47PM
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basilbird(z6 RI)

clarke, you WH are great!

I've been having a good WH summer (despite the icky NE weather). They are two feet tall in the center (never seen that before) and have covered most of the pond. Time to start pulling some out I guess.

Last year I tried a few plants I had over wintered. Nothing. They stayed small and pathetic all season. The year before, (the first summer with the pond) I threw a small bunch in on July 4th and they took over! Never got tall though. Also, apart from a couple of blooms this year, no flowers.

So this is what I don't understand (well... one of many things ;-) The first year the water was crystal clear, clean bottom, no sediment, little algae and they did great. The second year I had a terrible algae problem, there was a little sediment and they didn't do anything. This year I'm running a UV Clarifier and the water is crystal clear again, some sediment and a lot more fish but the WH are thriving. I haven't moved the pond so the amount of light hasn't changed. What's up?


Here is a link that might be useful: My Pond Website

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 6:26AM
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I wish my WH looked as great as those in that posted photo. Bravo. Mine are all small and many have brown leave bases dying back. I have seen no flowers whatsoever. They are multiplying though and otherwise seem fine. I live in southern Ontario in Canada so we haven't had hot weather, but it hasn't been freezing cold either. I'd love to see them flower but at least I have water lilies flowering. This is only our second year with the pond and this year started to use Pond Balance to prevent overgrowth of the string algae which went crazy on us last year almost killing everything.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 10:38AM
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clarke(7a, Northern VA)

Allynn, I had a Terrible string algae problem last year. The WH roots were covered with it, and most of them had dies before summer's end. I wasn't able to get control of the string algae until the water temps dropped. Last year I started using Ecological Laboratories (makers of Microbe-lift) Algaway 5.4. I don't use it every week as thy suggest, but only when I see some string algae starting. This stuff will kill snails, but they seem to come right back. My skippy filter is full of snails eating all the junk that is in there. The Algaway is supposed to be safe for all water plants. I don't have any water plants other than the WH in my filter, so I have no direct experience with other plants. It has not affected the impatience in my falls, or the moss that is growing on the falls rocks.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ecological Laboratories

    Bookmark   August 22, 2009 at 8:36AM
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Last year my WH did so-so. This year I took drh1's advice and added Gordon's Stump Remover, about a teaspoon every week or two, and boy, they've flourished. My WH look a lot like Clarke's, and many many more. They typically flower when they are crowding each other -- that might be one key.

I'm beginning to think that all these aquatic plants need fertilization to really thrive.

I usually have 12 to 20 blooms a day on my ten water lilies. Last year I only fertilized when I potted them and back then their roots were small because I split them quite a lot. Last year I averaged about 3 blooms a day from the ten plants.

So I would try fertilizing more. It's probably that your water is either devoid of plant essential nutrients, or that the plants themselves can't take-in the essentials because of lack of development.

Just my 2 cents.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2009 at 8:42PM
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larryl(7 Southern Oregon)

In my humble opinion, water hyacinth problems are almost always due to a lack of the right nutrient or nutrients. Potash deficiency is often the culprit with iron close in second place. It is also possible to have a magnesium or boron deficiency. A lack of nitrogen also occurs more often than people think, but the symptoms are not too drastic, so most people just see slow growth.

If you want to head off these problems, you need to add nutrients directly to the pond. Putting plants in a bucket of miracle grow works if you have three hyacinths, but its way too much work if you have fifty.

I add potash, magnesium, and nitrates, as well as micro-nutrient mix that contains lots of iron.

And, no, adding these things does not promote algae.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 5:47PM
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Exactly, Larryl.

I think that you give a very good scientific account of WH needs.

And Drh1's advice on Stump Remover, potassium nitrate, is well reasoned within the parameters of your explanation.

Just make sure the stump remover you use is pure potassium nitrate because I found one formula, believe it was Bonide, that was not potassium nitrate derived. Be careful everyone!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2009 at 12:01AM
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My hyacinths have gone crazy. When they covered 3/4 of the pond I started giving them away. When I couldn't give anymore away I started putting them in the compost bin. The first was three 5 gallon buckets and four since then. I even had one bloom - my first one. It has beautiful blooms but only last one day.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2009 at 10:38AM
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We live in Western Arizona and have sun an average of 350 days a year. During April to about August we have extremely high temperatures usually averaging 110 degrees. Our water hyacinths are looking like others have mentioned, brown and mushy, however, we have a very healthy pond, clear of algae, etc. Our water hyacinths are covered with bees all day long. Is this normal and does anyone think our high temps and hot sun could be affecting them?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 1:43PM
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waterbug_guy(Phoenix AZ (Melrose))

I did an experiment years ago with WH, as I had the same problem as OP. The thinking then, I think on this very forum, was a lack of potash. My experiment was to test if too much potash could be added. I added 5 lbs to a 30 gal tank. The sickly WH did take off. And goldfish eggs that hitched a ride on the roots hatched and grew normally. So the experiment did show high levels of potash seem to do no harm.

However, later experiments showed basically what buyorsell888 said, the fish ate the WH roots. In my case it was Goldfish. It was not obvious damage, just enough to limit growth. So in the potash experiment it wasn't the potash that caused the growth, it was that they were protected from fish. When the WH were put into a tank with pond water and no potash they grew very well also.

While the cause of poor growth can be many things it seemed like fish were the most common cause when talking to other pond keepers. You can test your pond by protecting the roots to see if that helps or adding pond water to another tank and putting some WH in there to see if they improve. If they do you know it isn't a nutrient problem.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 6:02PM
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