From the employee-owners of Gardener's Supply

Bog in a Bowl

Make room for a planter of unusual, moisture-loving plants.

After placing a fiberglass screen over the bottom of the bowl, I filled it with dampened peat.

Long-fiber sphagnum peat moss covers the surface to prevent soil splashing and give a natural finished look.

Bog and pond plants intrigue me, but I don’t have a pond or bog in which to plant them. But, when the water plants arrived at our garden center a couple of weeks ago, I just had to have some of them anyway. The bold, deep purple leaves of Colocasia ‘Black Magic’ would contrast beautifully with the grassy foliage of star grass (Dichromena), Carex ‘Golden Bowles’ and tall papyrus (cyperus). I’m also a big fan of carnivorous plants, which tend to live in bogs, so I added red-leaved Sarracenia ‘Judith Hindle’, a Venus flytrap, and a couple of sundew plants to my shopping list. As a bonus, the sundews may help keep the mosquito population down, at least on my deck!

Natural bogs are constantly wet, so pottery without drainage holes make perfect containers for bog and water gardens. I chose the Acanthus Planter because the bowl depth is about right and the base is hollow for holding extra water. To make the water reservoir, I fitted a piece of fiberglass screen over the hole between the bowl and the base and secured it with a flat rock.

To reproduce the acidic natural soil found in bogs, I moistened a trug full of finely ground peat moss. Dried peat doesn’t absorb water very well, so I let it sit for a few hours before planting in it.

After tucking in all the plants, I covered the soil surface with moistened, long-fiber sphagnum peat moss. The moss prevents the soil from splashing on the plants and gives the planter a more natural, finished look. As the summer progresses, I expect the moss will turn green from algae and sprouting moss spores, which will add to its character.

Ann Whitman, Nursery Supervisor, Gardener’s Supply


  1. Anonymous
    June 22, 2009    

    What are you going to do with it over winter?

  2. June 23, 2009    

    In the winter, I bring the container inside and put it under lights. I take the bottom shelf out of the light garden and set the container on the floor. It also does pretty well in a south-facing window. Aphids are the biggest problem to watch for in winter. -Ann, Gardener’s Supply

  3. Nature Lover
    July 1, 2009    

    I have a problem with aphids every winter when I bring my hothouse hibiscus from the deck back into the house. I have tried soapy water sprays with little effect. I would like to stop resorting to the chemicals from the local nursery if there is another way. I have to fight aphids spreading to other plants and have had some hibiscus die out. I also have some trouble with earwigs getting into the soil in the pots.
    Nature Lover

  4. Nature Lover
    July 1, 2009    

    By the way, I love the Bog in a Bowl idea and plan to try it when I know how to deal with the aphid problem better.
    Nature Lover

  5. July 1, 2009    

    Aphids are tricky, but you can usually get them under control if you are persistent. I like to use neem oil, which usually does the trick after a few weeks.

    For more tips:,default,pg.html

    Good luck. Be persistent!

    -David, Gardener’s Supply

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