Native to tropical South America, water hyacinth has now spread throughout the southern United States. This free floating, freshwater plant grows prolifically in warm, mild climates. When released into the environment, water hyacinth causes serious problems like blocking water ways and preventing boat use, along with depleting oxygen levels. Lack of oxygen kills fish and other flora and fauna. In a controlled, landscaped environment, water hyacinth is grown in ponds. The plants have waxy, green, bulbous leaves that grow close to the water. The flower stalks grow up to 20 inches tall and produce clusters of blue, purple or pale pink flowers. Water hyacinth is harvested for propagation, to thin a colony in a private pond or to control the spread in a natural environment.
In cold climates, remove all plants from landscape ponds before the first frost. Place 10 to 12 plants in a flat tray of water indoors for the winter. In the spring repopulate the pond with the overwintered plants. Left in a pond over winter, the plants will die and become messy and difficult to remove.
It is illegal to introduce water hyacinth into many states in the Southern United States. Check regulations for individual states before importing water hyacinth.
Only plant water hyacinth in closed, private ponds where they cannot escape into public water ways and natural environments.