An ongoing series of plant profiles for Louisiana landscapes

Story and Photos by Yvonne Lelong Bordelon

A pond filled with masses of 6-inch blue or purple flower spikes jutting from the attractive green foliage of native pickerelweed is a sight to behold. Among the flowers, you will surely see an assortment of brightly colored butterflies, dragonflies, and bees. You might also observe waterfowl nibbling on the sticky fruits, which contain nutritious seeds.

Fish and amphibians dwell and breed in the water among the roots and stems. Pickerel is also an important plant for dragonflies.

A wonderful plant for a pond or bog garden, pickerelweed is also used for bio-purification systems because it absorbs nutrients from water and improves water clarity. Good companion plants include white spider lily (Hymenocallis), fragrant waterlily (Nymphaea odorata), lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuus), and powdery thalia (Thalia dealbata).

Bumblebees and other solitary native bees collect nectar and pollen from the many flowers.

Quick Facts and Keys to Success
Common Name: Pickerelweed
Botanical Name: Pontederia cordata
Zone(s): 4-9
Color: Blue, purple, sometimes white
Blooming Period: Spring to fall
Type: Native aquatic herbaceous perennial
Mature Size: 2-4 feet tall
Exposure: Sun to part-shade
How to Plant: Can be started from cold stratified seeds or root (corms) division in moist soil. Plant in submerged pots or directly into ponds or water gardens. Use local or regional ecotypes. 
Watering: Very wet, up to 1 foot of water should be maintained
In Your Landscape: Pickerelweed is an excellent sustainable addition to a bog or water garden and will attract pollinators and other wildlife to the landscape.

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