Container Gardening


  • 1 decorative container or tub without a hole in the bottom. We used a 30” wide x 8” deep decorative plastic tub, but anything that holds water can be turned into a water garden.
  • Enough rocks (river rocks, pea gravel, or found rocks) to fill your chosen container about 1/3 of the way.
  • 1 – 4” or quart sized container of Fiber Optic Grass (Scirpus cernuus)
  • 1 – 6” or gallon sized container of Blue Mohawk® Rush (Juncus inflexus)
  • A few floating water plants like water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) or Anacharis (Egeria densa)—Available at places that sell aquarium supplies.
  • Hose or other water source


  • Start with a clean container or tub and set it in its permanent location, preferably in a spot that receives at least 4-6 hours of direct sun per day. Lots of people put their potted water garden on their deck or patio. Filled tubs are too heavy to move, so make sure you’re happy with the spot you’ve chosen before you go any further.
  • Take the pot of Blue Mohawk and leaving it in its original container, set it in the bottom of the water garden tub near the back. The top of the pot’s rim should sit about 1-2” below the rim of the tub.
  • Lay stones in the bottom 1/3 of the tub, surrounding the pot of Blue Mohawk.
  • On top of the stones, set the pot of Fiber Optic Grass. The top of its pot should be about even with the top of the pot of Blue Mohawk. If not, use the stones to prop it up a little higher. Make sure the pot is not tippy by surrounding it with more stones.
  • Fill the tub with water from your hose or outdoor faucet. Fill it almost to the top of the tub. The plants’ containers will be slightly underwater or just peeking out the top.
  • Set the floating plants on the surface of the water. That’s all for assembly, folks. You’re done!
  • Check the water level every few days, especially during hot weather, and add more water to keep the tub full. It’s OK if it rains in the tub too.
  • In the fall when average temperatures fall below 55°F, clean out your water garden and store your supplies for next year. Blue Mohawk Rush is a perennial in zones 5 and warmer and can be planted in moist garden soil if you wish to save it.

Making your own simple water garden in a container is very easy and does not require any expertise in plants or gardening. Water plants are sold at most nurseries. Look for the plants growing in water tubs, which should be clearly marked “water plants”. Follow these step-by-step instructions and you’ll have your very own water garden assembled in just 30 minutes or less.


Fiber Optic Grass (Scirpus cernuus)

‘Ogon’ Golden Variegated
Sweet Flag (Acorus gramineus)

Baby Tut® Cypress
(Cyperus involocratus)

‘Illustris’ Elephant Ear
(Colocasia esculenta)

Blue Mohawk® Rush (Juncus inflexus)

‘Curly Wurly’ Corkscrew Rush
(Juncus effusus)

King Tut® Cypress (Cyperus papyrus)

Coffee Cups’ Elephant Ear (Colocasia)