Adventures in container water gardening

I did not have luck with the first run of goldfish in the rain barrel and I had so thoroughly enjoyed their presence in the backyard. Then it dawned on me that I could have a fish pond! No, who wants to dig a giant hole in the backyard?! Not me. What about a container garden, of fish? Aha!

First I read about a zen meditation fish pond in an IKEA planter pot. Genius! Then I read about this Texas woman who did one in a ceramic planter pot. By now the wheels are turning in my head like mad. Further research led me to the very helpful website of the University of Illinois Extension website on all things water gardens.

I started making a list:

Container for fish and plants

Container for water gardenI found this white planter pot on clearance at Target (it’s this model if you’re curious). It had a strong resin/fiberglass smell so I filled it with water and let it sit out for a few days.


RainThen I waited for Mother Nature to do her part and fill up my rain barrel – see the water overflowing? Overflowed rain barrelAquatic Plants

My next items took me to the local Mahoney’s garden store. Way in the back, by the perennials, I found the aquatic plants and spent a good half hour going round and round trying to decide what to take home. I didn’t want to get a very exotic collection of plants for fear they would not survive past August. I ended up with a healthy Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) that is supposed to be a butterfly and honeybee magnet (yaay!) when it flowers, a floating Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) and a floating Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes).

Patio Pond

After several weeks of playing back and forth with the exact locations of the plants and water level I came up with this:

Water GardenThere are two goldfish living in here – happily chomping down on mosquito larvae and providing me with backyard company. I use several gallons of the pond water to water plants and then refill the pond from the rain barrel. So far we seem to have a compatible environment for plants, people and fish going on.


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