The City Magazine Since 1975

Beauties from the Bog

Beauties from the Bog
June 2015
Create a wetland-inspired container garden to reap the benefits of the season’s sun and showers

Your abode may not offer wetland views, but you can still create the perfect microcosm of this rich ecosystem right on your patio by combining three water-loving plants in one pot. Select a nonporous, well-draining container that measures 15 inches in both height and diameter. Fill the lower third with pea gravel to create a reservoir. As these plants thrive in nutrient-free soil, top the gravel with a combination of 30 percent clean sand and 70 percent peat moss. Place the pot in full sun and fill it to the brim with rainwater or chlorine-free distilled water. Let the combination sit for one week to balance the pH, and then you’re ready to plant! Arrange horsetail rush to create a backdrop for the delicate dwarf papyrus and sun-loving pitcher plant, and finally top the bog-like container with sphagnum moss.

Horsetail Rush (Equisetum hyemale)
Bamboo-like in appearance and growth rate, this aggressive spreader is best confined to a pot. Reaching up to four feet in height, the evergreen stems are marked by tiny leaves forming a narrow black-green band at each joint. Sections of the plant, also known as “scouring rush,” can be bundled to form a pot scrubber; its sharp silica crystals contribute to its scouring ability.

Hardiness: Zones 4-11
Light: Full to partial sun
Soil: Damp soil
Maintain: Remove spent foliage.
Toxicity: Poisonous to humans and animals if ingested

Dwarf Papyrus (Cyperus prolifer)
Add exoticism with this grass-like perennial featuring flower clusters reminiscent of green starbursts. The dwarf variety grows only two to three feet tall, but does best when confined. Keep the root mass damp and the delicate flower heads dry.

Hardiness: Zones 9-11
Light: Full to partial sun
Water: Damp soil
Maintain: Remove spent foliage.

Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia ‘Scarlet Belle’)
Known for luring insects into pitcher-shaped leaves laced with nectar, these native carnivorous plants appear in a wide variety of shades and sizes. A color burst for your garden, the ‘Scarlet Belle’ develops beautiful white pitchers deeply veined in intense scarlet red, with the largest profusion occurring in the spring and late summer. The pitchers may reach up to 12 inches in height.

Hardiness: Zones 5-9
Light: Full sun
Water: Damp soil
Maintain: Remove spent foliage. Plant is dormant in the cool season.