Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)
Water hyacinth is native to South America but has naturalized much of the Southern U.S. Water hyacinth is a free-floating perennial plant that can grow to a height of 3 feet. The dark green leave blades are circular to elliptical in shape attached to a spongy, inflated petiole. Underneath the water is a thick, heavily branched, dark fibrous root system. The water hyacinth has striking light blue to violet flowers located on a terminal spike. Water hyacinth is a very aggressive invader and can form thick mats. If these mats cover the entire surface of the pond they can cause oxygen depletions and fish kills.
The leaves of this plant have bladders filled with air that keep them afloat. Water hyacinths have a large, hairy root system that drops far into the water below. They reproduce by runners and are extremely prolific.
The water hyacinth can choke waterways of all sizes in the Gulf States, California, and other warm areas throughout the world. Some consider it safe for gardeners north of Zone 8 because it will not survive winter north of there. But gardeners in the warmest areas of Zone 7 who live near waterways should avoid it.
This is one of the most beautiful yet one of the most noxious water garden plants. One of the worst pest plants in California, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana, it can't be shipped across state lines anywhere.
Be prepared: this rampant beauty can take over you water garden if you don’t thin it regularly.
Water Hyacinth Control Options
Water hyacinth can be removed by raking or seining it from the pond's surface.
The active ingredients that have been successful in treating water hyacinth include diquat (E), glyphosate (G), imazapyr (E). E = excellent, G = good
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Products to Control Water Hyacinth
GullWing contains the active ingredient, imazapyr, which inhibits the plant enzyme AHAS (acetohydroxyaced synthase). Habitat is a systemic herbicide that is effective on post-emergent floating and emergent aquatic vegetation. Imazapyr is effective at low-volume rates and does not contain heavy metals, organochlorides or phosphates, making it safe to humans and livestock. GullWing requires the use of a spray adjuvant when applying on post-emergent vegetation.
Redwing is a liquid diquat formulation that has been effective on coontail. It is a contact algaecide and herbicide. Contact herbicides act quickly and kill all plants cells that they contact.
Avocet is a glyphosate formulation that has been effective on water hyacinth. These are broad spectrum, systemic herbicides. Systemic herbicides are absorbed and move within the plant to the site of action. Systemic herbicides tend to act more slowly than contact herbicides. An aquatically registered surfactant (see the label) will have to be added to the glyphosate solution for good results.
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