The water hyacinth, aka Eichhornia crassipes, is a huge free-floating plant that lives in tropical and subtropical warm waters that are either stagnant or slowly moving. Its Bengali name is “kochuripana”. Due to its invasive growth habits, it is dubbed the “horror of Bengal” anecdotally.
The thick green leaves of water hyacinths, which can reach 15 cm (6 in) in length, are similar to those of other herbaceous floating plants like frogbit. These waxy, thick leaves form rosettes around a central stem, or petiole, which has a spongy, bulbous base that keeps the plant afloat. Water hyacinths can reach a height of 1 meter (3 feet) above the waterline, with roots that extend 15 centimeters (1 foot) below the surface.
The stunning bloom of 8 to 15 flowers erupting from a single stem distinguishes the water hyacinth from other floating herbs. Flower hues range from blue to purple, with a yellow teardrop patch on the top petal. The flowers of the water hyacinth are thick, with six petals arranged in an upper and lower semicircle.
Growth and Hardiness
Water hyacinths are one of the quickest developing aquatic plants, expanding up to four times their original size in just one month. If not wrangled or periodically clipped, they can readily spread from one side of your pond to the other. In tropical areas, water hyacinths are perennials that bloom all year. They are annual plants in temperate and subtropical regions, and they emerge during the hottest months of the year, from mid-summer to mid-autumn.
These flowers are diurnal, meaning they open in the morning and close their petals at night, regardless of the environment. Before wilting and dropping into the water, each blossom lasts around two or three days. Water hyacinths also only bloom in clusters, so solitary free-floating plants are unlikely to bloom. The optimal conditions for these tropical plants are full to partial sunlight and water temperatures of 21 to 27°C (70 to 80°F). Water hyacinths can withstand temperatures ranging from 12 to 35 degrees Celsius (54 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit). However, frost and water temperatures above 34 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Fahrenheit) will kill the plant. Water hyacinths can survive a pH range of 5.0 to 7.5 and are sensitive to salinity exceeding 5 ppt.
How to plant
Trim the roots of your water hyacinths to about 5 cm (2 inches) and remove the yellow leaves before planting. Then spread them around the pond’s surface. Contain the water hyacinths with a circle of tubing, hula-hoop, or water hyacinth basket to encourage blooming.
Dead plant debris, such as wilted flowers, can affect pond water quality by lowering dissolved oxygen levels and raising waste product concentrations. To properly maintain this plant, it’s especially vital to remove dead stems and skim root bits that may fall to the bottom. Because water hyacinths can double in size in as little as two weeks, you should prune the plant regularly. Water hyacinths can quickly outgrow their containers and take over your entire garden pond, so keep an eye on them.
Due to the fact that water hyacinth is one of the fastest-growing plants, its biomass has the potential to replace traditional fossil fuels as a renewable energy source within the next decade. As a result, future compacted biomass leftovers produced as briquettes may reduce reliance on coal to deliver more energy. The incorporation of water hyacinth into a co-compost material, such as a soil supplement to sandy soil, can improve soil hydro-physical and chemical properties while also providing nutrients to growing crops. The potential of water hyacinth to bioremediate contaminants from home and industrial wastewater effluents has also attracted interest.
As a result, the problem of water hyacinth should be assessed from an energy and engineering standpoint.