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PlantFiles: Water Hyacinth
Eichhornia crassipes

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Family: Pontederiaceae
Genus: Eichhornia (ike-HORN-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: crassipes (KRASS-ih-peez) (Info)

Synonym:Eichhornia speciosa
Synonym:Piaropus crassipes

18 members have or want this plant for trade.

Category:
Ponds and Aquatics

Height:
6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

Spacing:
12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

Hardiness:
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Danger:
Seed is poisonous if ingested
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
Violet/Lavender
Purple

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer

Foliage:
Grown for foliage

Other details:
Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens
May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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There are a total of 39 photos.
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Profile:

10 positives
6 neutrals
13 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Negative ilovejesus99 On Dec 14, 2013, ilovejesus99 from Baytown, TX (Zone 9b) wrote:

This plant is not just outlawed by states but it is on the FEDERAL OUTLAWED LIST !! http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/documents/outla...

The fines and jail time are high...would you really take a chance for this plant to go to jail and possibly pay 2000 for each plant you own? I composted mine years ago.

Neutral bb679804 On Aug 18, 2013, bb679804 from Phenix City, AL wrote:

These plants are beautiful. Are they illegal in Alabama only in public water ways? How about a small yard pond? Do they really spread by seeds / birds?

Negative cocoa_lulu On Jul 27, 2011, cocoa_lulu from Grand Saline, TX (Zone 7b) wrote:

Texans Beware: this plant has been become a Class B Parks and Wildlife Code Misdemeanor and illegal to own, grow, sell, or transport in Texas. With fines of not less than $200 or more than $2000 (per plant) a jail term not to exceed 180 days, or both a fine AND imprisonment. For more and updated information, visit http://www.ntwgs.org/articles/illegalAquatics.html#control

Positive napdognewfie On Aug 6, 2009, napdognewfie from Cumberland, MD (Zone 6a) wrote:

I love it with it's little air bladders. Spreads nicely, pretty lavender flowers & not at all invasive here. Turns to mush at the first good freeze. I have tried to overwinter a few plants inside in an aquarium under fluorescents but they don't make it so I buy new plants each year.

Positive javakittie On Jul 14, 2009, javakittie from Atlanta, GA wrote:

I think the whole "noxious weed" thing is a little over done. I've been growing water hyacinth in my pond for 3 years now and have never once had an issue with it being so invasive I couldn't fix it. That's with 2 months of neglect after a surgery kept me out of the yard! If you can't be bothered to maintain *any* plant, you shouldn't be growing it. It's a gorgeous addition to any pond and here in Georgia I get lots of blooms all summer long.

Positive alpaca95 On Jun 22, 2008, alpaca95 from Smyrna, GA wrote:

This has been a great plant to grow. I had mine repeatedly bloom for the whole summer. I only let it divide a few times. Its dead leaves make a good compost.

Negative msfeatherflower On Oct 26, 2007, msfeatherflower from Sugar Land, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Please do not ever deliberately plant this monster. This is a horrible, cursed plant. Over the course of two years, I have watched it completely cover several beautiful lakes here in the Sugar Land, TX area. It is illegal to grow or even possess this plant here in Texas, for good reason. Unfortunately, just today I found it growing along Oyster Creek in my back yard in Fort Bend County. It was not easy, but I was able to climb down our steep creek bank, slosh through the mud and pull it all out. Hopefully that will be the end of it. Keep me in your prayers.

Negative MarthaMoye On May 16, 2007, MarthaMoye from Jacksonville, NC (Zone 8a) wrote:

I curse the person who sold me this plant!!! At first I was able to keep a small planting of it contained with a floating barrier in our large pond. (This pond covers about half an acre.) Originally the pond was partially surrounded by cattails and hosted a variety of fish (including brim and tripoloid grass eating carp), turtles, visiting herons, etc. (It was located in Sneads Ferry, NC, on the coast, zone 8a.)

Well, I thought the winter would kill the plant off, but no such luck. The cold browned the area that was coated with the water hyacinth, but the following spring, it returned with a vengeance. Not only had it jumped its floating "barrier", but it had spread to cover more than half the water surface in one year. Within two years, the pond was completely covered. No matter how much I tried to rake out clumps of it, the plant just kept spreading.

By year three, there had been a major fish kill, the herons had stopped visiting, and we didn't see many turtles at all. I pulled out so many of the plants that it formed a gigantic mound about 15 feet across.

Eventually I moved into the city of Jacksonville, NC. That Sneads Ferry property has seen two other owners since then. One owner partially drained the pond so they could pull out all the water hyacinth. I thought that would fix things, but it didn't. The next owner let the pond "do its own thing", and last time I saw it, the pond was totally covered. Other taller, thicker vegetation had begun to grow on the pond surface. It was almost impossible to tell if there was a pond there or not.

To this day I am still kicking myself for allowing that horrid water hyacinth into that once beautiful pond. I learned my lesson... at a terrible price.

Negative frostweed On Dec 19, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Water Hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes is naturalized in Texas and other States is considered an invasive noxious plant and is prohibited in Texas.

Negative jnana On May 18, 2005, jnana from South Florida, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

As beautiful as this plant may be, it is an illegal plant to distribute or propagate in Florida. I agree 100% with equilibrium's comments. As a Florida Master Gardener, we are told to inform people of the damage that these invasive exotics pose to our fragile ecosystem. At the end, it is our tax dollars that end up in the eradication of these noxious weeds.
Water Hyacinth is prohibited by Florida DEP, listed as Category I of highly invasive plants by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council.
PLEASE DO NOT PLANT IN FLORIDA.

Positive Permaculturist On Apr 14, 2005, Permaculturist from Micanopy, FL wrote:

I keep water hyacinths in a wetland on my property (shhhh... don't tell the nozzleheads), and periodically harvest portions of them for superior garden compost. Water hyacinth is really one of the world's most magnificent plants, and completely undeserving of its persecution. The major reason why it becomes "invasive" in waterways is because of nutrient enrichment and/or metal contamination. Hyacinth is one of the world's most effective plants at removing such contaminants from the water column. Healthy native ecosystems are generally found right next to hyacinth mats, because the hyacinths serve as a sort of "immune system" that sequesters contaminants. Experience and research tell me that eradication of this plant through herbicidal treatment from water bodies in Florida is generally followed by blooms of toxic algae, which the hyacinth had previously suppressed through contaminant sequestration and allelopathy. With any luck, we'll be using hyacinths in a number of ecosystem restoration pilot projects throughout Florida and the world in the next few years. Don't feel guilty! It's not the plant that bad... it's just cleaning up our messes for us!

Neutral careyjane On Dec 2, 2004, careyjane from Rabat
Morocco wrote:

If my memory serves me correctly, South Africa imported South American wasps to control water hyacinths. I can't remember exaclty how it worked but it seems to have been a success. Don't know what the wasps went on to do with the ecosystem, though...???

Negative hanna1 On Dec 1, 2004, hanna1 from Castro Valley, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I find this flower to be beautifull and had longed to grow them in my small pond after putting it back in the ground and I was ignorant on its invasiveness, but after discussing this with a few members here, and my Paleonthologist DH, not his forte, but he was well aware, and gave me quite a lecture, and after much reading, I will not be one to cause a problem, hence, if seeds possibly could get dispersed by birds, it would surely get into other waterways, We do have a few lakes in the area, so I will continue to look at the pretty pictures in books and online and that will be all!!!! sigh....

Negative Equilibrium On Dec 1, 2004, Equilibrium wrote:

Water Hyacinths... goodness gracious what an overpoweringly attractive plant. To many water gardeners, this plant appears to be the equivalent of the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. It is virtually irresistible. The plant is an ecological nightmare... the equivalent of zebra mussels in the Great Lakes and Kudzu and fireants down south and so many other exotic invasives that out compete native flora. WH can survive almost as if it was a terrestrial in many areas. When ponds with hyacinth dry up, they get buried in the dirt and the first rains rejuvenate them. WH can survive temps in the 20's and being frozen in ice for short periods. They never completely die in the South unless physically removed and destroyed.

WH is a non-native plant to the US that has naturalized in many native waters throughout the milder climates of North America. This plant is not controlled by its natural, co-evolved enemies in this North American non-native habitat it has colonized, and its phenomenal rate of growth results in vast areas of natural waterways being choked with water hyacinth. The effects of this spread include pre-empting surface waters that less aggressive native plants would otherwise colonize, shading the bottom so thoroughly that submerged vegetation cannot grow, which in turn deprives many fishes of spawning and feeding habitat, and choking waterways so that they are not navigable.

The problem with this plant is that people assume that its reproduction is always vegetative and this is not so as it can and does reproduce sexually which means birds can pick it up and spread it. To me, this is a plant deserving of being wiped off the face of North America. Water Hyacinth somehow manages to always find its way into waterways and it spreads rapidly. It blocks entire river systems completely, shading out the river and starving the water of oxygen. All the native water plants die in the deep shade and fish can and do die from suffocation and or an inability to sustain themselves as native fish hunt by sight. The seeds can remain dormant for as long as 15 years- this should tell us something about this plant.

Given all the research currently available on this plant that irrefutably deem it more than capable of wreaking havoc in the environment and given the costs of clean up to the American tax payer, I believe anyone growing water hyacinth who resides in an area where this plant can possibly escape to natural waterways to be in need of rethinking what it is that this plant does for them that makes it worth the risk. The plant is currently illegal to possess in quite a few states which includes Florida and Texas. The fines for possessing this plant without the proper permitting appear to be quite stiff. I have no doubt other states will be following suit.

Neutral lmelling On Oct 31, 2004, lmelling from Ithaca, NY (Zone 5b) wrote:

I've used water hyacinth as a cover for my goldfish in our pond several years with good results, and several years with poor results. In zone 5 whether they grow and flower really depends on how hot the summer gets (the hotter the better for them), and how much sun we have. If we have a relatively cool summer with less sun they generally will not flower and growth is minimal. Not as reliable as water lilies.

Positive trois On Sep 6, 2004, trois from Santa Fe, TX (Zone 9b) wrote:

We keep this plant contained to an area of our Lily pond that is full of Cattails. The two together keep each other in check. The Hyacinth is almost 3 feet tall and blooms beautifully. It also keeps the water in the rest of the pond clear. Any excess becomes mulch for other flower beds.

Positive Saundra On Aug 31, 2004, Saundra from Sacramento, CA wrote:

This plant is very attractive, and the short-lived blooms are beautiful. I thin it about every two weeks in our small pond. The leaf stems are like nature's bubble wrap -- fun to pop. I break off the roots and use them on top of the soil in our container plants. They keep the moisture in and the squirrels out.

Negative BingsBell On Aug 7, 2004, BingsBell from SC, MT (Zone 5a) wrote:

This plant does not survive well in my ponds. I believe my water is too cool for both this and water lettuce. I can't even keep them alive in my very sunny and warm sunroom pond.

Neutral desertboot On May 14, 2004, desertboot from Bangalore
India (Zone 10a) wrote:

With this particular plant, it's probably p.c to settle for a 'neutral' despite some of it in pleasantly powder-purple bloom and well under control in a glazed terracotta bowl on the lawn. This one's the miniature version; not the infamous larger-leafed variety.
Trivia: The water hyacinth was originally "introduced" to India during the early 20th century - allegedly by a British Raj Memsahib who saw them in Africa and thought they'd be pretty in her new Indian garden. The rest, of course, is history.

Positive takkygal On Mar 14, 2004, takkygal from Greenville, TX wrote:

I grow water hyacinth in a small pond (round, approx. 175' diam) and harvest it every two weeks during the warm months to use as mulch on my no-till vegetable garden, ending with a more thorough harvest at the end of the season in fall to avoid a large amount of rotting vegetation in the pond resulting from winter kill. This is a sustainable system, allowing the on-site production of all the mulch I need. Harvest is easy; I put on shorts and old sneakers and wade around the edge of the pond pulling out plants with a pitchfork. The pond is beautified by the flowers, and harmful algal blooms that once plagued the pond have not occurred since the end of the first summer after introducing the plants. According to internet sources, if the pond is in full sun as mine is, up to 1/2 the surface area can be covered by floating vegetation to the advantage of the fish, so I use that as a rough guideline, harvesting when coverage appears to be about 50%. It's working well for me.

Negative Thaumaturgist On Nov 17, 2003, Thaumaturgist from Rockledge, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), a free-floating plant of South American origin, ranks among the top ten weeds worldwide.

One of the most successful colonizers of the plant world, it has spread to at least 50 countries around the globe, creating a large number of problems, particularly related to the use and management of water resources.

Water Hyacinth, which made its entry into India via the state of Bengal about 1896, now occurs throughout India, in fresh water ponds, pools, tanks, reservoirs, streams, rivers, irrigation channels and paddy fields.

Negative dogbane On Nov 17, 2003, dogbane from New Orleans, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

This plant is such a nuisance that several states have made it illegal to carry them across state lines.

Negative IslandJim On Oct 9, 2003, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

Such a beautiful flower; such a terribly invasive plant. I understand San Diego [California] had a test to harvest the plants and turn them into silage for swine. Never heard if it worked.

Neutral Gabriels_Garden On Jul 18, 2003, Gabriels_Garden wrote:

My hyacinths have grown large and have bloomed beautifully, but after a day they fall over and the flowers die underwater. I'd like to enjoy the flowers for more than a day...

Negative Monocromatico On Jun 8, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

It can be very invasive. Keep it away from rivers or lakes... if it escapes from your pond, it will take over those places, draining oxygen from the water and killing fishes. We are having problems with it in a lagoon near here. They planted water hyacinths there, and now they are having problems removing it because it was killing all the life in the lagoon, including fishing birds and the last alligators.

Positive Chamma On May 17, 2003, Chamma from Tennille, GA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I grow these in the shade in large shallow glazed terracotta pots....I add a little iron once a month. I top the water up daily and once a week I let the water run over the pot! They are great for added interests in the garden and multiply rapidly!

Positive easter0794 On Jan 4, 2003, easter0794 from Seffner, FL wrote:

My friend gave me a cutting from her plant. I just love the pretty color it adds to my pond. Dispose in compost in Florida, home small pond use only. This is a hard plant for Floridians to get because of its evasive nature. I love it!

Positive mystic On Aug 31, 2002, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

A fast multiplying floater for fast pond cover. The blooms are beautiful.

Neutral Terry On Aug 4, 2001, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

A floating oxygenator, Eichhornia crassipes are dubbed "Water Hyacinths" are so named for the purple flower spike that appears throughout the growing season. The roots provide oxygen to fish and help keep water garden water clear.

In warm climates, the plant is considered a noxious invasive weed, and should not be allowed to enter any bodies of freshwater.

Some sources indicate that excess plants can be spread as a mulch around roses and strawberries to good effect.

Regional...

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Clayton, California
Merced, California
Sacramento, California
San Francisco, California
Simi Valley, California
Deland, Florida
Delray Beach, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Lutz, Florida
North Fort Myers, Florida
Orange Springs, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Venice, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia
Hawkinsville, Georgia
Hinesville, Georgia
Honomu, Hawaii
Mount Sterling, Kentucky
Paint Lick, Kentucky
Cumberland, Maryland
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey
Ithaca, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Jacksonville, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Vieques, Puerto Rico
Alice, Texas
Baytown, Texas
Deer Park, Texas
Mont Belvieu, Texas
Port Neches, Texas
Santa Fe, Texas
Spring Branch, Texas
Sugar Land, Texas



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