Aquatic Plants Of The Year

First we announced the 2011 Perennial of the Year to you (Amsonia hubrichtii). Then came the 2010 Hosta of the Year (‘First Frost’). Now it’s time to share with you the 2010 aquatic plant selections.

Each year, the International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society (IWGS) asks aquatic plant experts from around the world to consult on water garden plants with desirable traits. Many factors are considered in this selection: tendency to bloom prolifically, reliability, beauty, consistency, broad appeal, availability, and vigor. Most years (no winners were announced in 2008 or 2009), a marginal plant, a hardy waterlily and a tropical waterlily are selected for special recognition. They recently announced three choices for Aquatic Plants of the Year for 2010: Zebra Rush (Scirpus zebrinus), Laydekari Fulgens waterlily and Jennifer Rebecca tropical waterlily.

The Nymphaea ‘Laydekeri Fulgens’ hybrid was a Marliac nursery introduction in 1893. The French Impressionist painter, Claude Monet bought the lilies that are now at his beautiful garden at Giverny from Marliac. Apparently, the vast majority of the hybrid hardy water lilies sold commercially today are of Marliac origin from the tiny French village of Lot-et-Garonne. ‘Laydekeri Fulgens’ is one of the most floriferous, long-blooming, hardy waterlilies in existence. Cherry red blossoms about 4 to 6 inches in diameter are enjoyed all summer long against dark green leaves. Six to eight hours of sun is recommended. It is hardy from Zone 4 to 9 [or Zones 3-11, depending on the source].

Zebra Rush is a hardy marginal with tall, narrow, cylindrical stems horizontally banded with white. Easily grown, it is hardy from Zone 4 to 9 and is famous for its showy foliage. [Editor’s note: several online references, including Proven Winners Web site, suggests hardiness is Zone 5-11.] It grows to about 4 feet. Plant in sun or partial shade. Zebra Rush also can be grown in well-watered containers as a striking upright accent.

Nymphaea ‘Jennifer Rebecca’ is considered to be one of the best night-blooming tropical waterlilies, staying open from early evening until mid-morning (or perhaps longer on an overcast day). Blooms of fuchsia-red are 6 to 8 inches across and rise well above the water. Its red-bronze leaves provide a striking accent and create visual appeal during daylight hours. Zone 8 or higher.

For more information and past aquatic plant of the year winners, visit the International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society website www.iwgs.org.