how to grow ipomoea aquatica from seed and....

Gartenfee(z6 Zurich/CH)May 31, 2004


I bought some seeds from Ipomoea aquatica and would like to grow them in a container submerged in my pond as an annual flower, not for food. The plant is not invasive in my country as it is to cold during winter.

How are the seeds germinated?

Do I have to nick or soak them?

What soil is best?

When they have germinated, can I put the pot into the pond?

How deep should the water be over the crown?

What temperature should the pondwater have?

Many questions but I hope to get information from this forum.

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Simply sow them as you would any other vegetable seed. Soil temps are best at 80?F-90?F.

Generally, Ipomoea aquatica is not kept in pots. It's best left alone to float on top of the water as it is designed to do. Water needs to be warm, probably 65?F-75?F at least.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2004 at 3:15PM
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Gartenfee(z6 Zurich/CH)

Hi Violet,

if sown like other vegetables or flowers, I sow them in seedkompost in trays, when young plants, I put them into pots.

My waterlilies are in pots submerged in the pond.

Do you mean that I shall take the young plants ( in case they have grown) out of the trays and throw them into the water, just like that?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2004 at 4:41AM
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Yes, they shoud do just fine.. that's what I did last year. Started them in cell trays and after they established their true leaf set, put them in a huge tub of sun warmed water outside in full sun. Your pond will be better than a tub.


    Bookmark   June 1, 2004 at 3:56PM
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How did it go Gartenfee?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2005 at 3:38PM
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Gartenfee(z6 Zurich/CH)

Hi, they did grow very slowly, and did not look healthy, besides the leaves looked very different to the pictures I had seen in the books. I was wondering if I was growing the right thing. We had a rainy spring, some hot days and again a lot of rain, the weather is changing from one extreme to the other, one day 32° Celsius and the next day 10°, now again it is to cold for the season. This year all my tropical plants are suffering, the blue waterlilies and the lotuses had already buds, but two days ago we had a thunderstorm with hail and now all the leaves are smashed, as well as the ipomoea. I think the lilies and lotuses will survive but I am not sure about the ipom.
But thats nature.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2005 at 4:05PM
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According to the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program, Ipomoea aquatica (water spinach) "can reproduce... vegetatively by stem fragmentation". So, if your water spinach fails, you can always try rooting some storebought vegetables. Try looking in an Asian grocery/supermarket. I think I might have also seen some in Giant (or maybe Safeway?) recently.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 22, 2006 at 6:47PM
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You've seen this plant at Safeway?

You must have more of an Asian population than most cities in this country.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2006 at 8:52PM
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I'm not sure. It was probably some other vegatable.
I've found it in an Asian supermarket though, under "Ong Choy" or "Ongchoy". Wikipedia lists a few other names in its Ipomoea Aquatica article.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ipomoea Aquatica (Wikipedia)

    Bookmark   June 25, 2006 at 9:34AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Violet, when I lived in San Diego, finding water spinach seed was easy; not so for Wisconsin. Do you know of a U.S. source? I know that USDA regulations have made it harder to find.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 12:40AM
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i grow they two months ago and i am very satisfied with it.

i soaked my seeds for a day and planted it the following day. result was ok

i cut and grow them since then and they are close to picture perfect

    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 10:34AM
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An Asian community garden here in the midwest had several people growing ong choy this summer in well watered raised beds - no mud, no ponds, involved at all. The plants looked very healthy and were tastier and more tender than ong choy I had purchased in the past from large Chinese supermarkets.

Interestingly, this was the broader-leafed "water ong choy", which is supposed to be harder to grow on dry land than the other, narrow leafed variety. Yet it was growing just fine.

The Chinese gentleman I spoke with seemed quite surprised that I had believed it needed to be grown in water.

Since then I've read (in Oriental Vegetables, by Joy Larkcom) that a raised bed system is actually the usual method of cultivation in China. Other interesting points - the veg does best at 77 degrees Fahrenheit and above, is killed by frost, and in general grows poorly when temps are under 50 degrees F. In northern areas with shorter days - such as Europe - the plants may be driven to flower prematurely and to stop producing good leafy greens. In this case you should remove flower buds from the plant in order to keep it growing (unless you're trying to save seeds). Also, apparently you get better results with seed grown plants than with cuttings (though cuttings are very easy).

Unfortunately, seeds are very hard to come by in much of the US. Even so, the plant is grown commercially here, I guess in states where it is legal, and I once read an article in a Texan paper (Dallas or Austin) about how ong choy is a great summer green, with seeds available in the local Asian stores of Texas.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2006 at 11:15PM
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Thank you for this information!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 11:16PM
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lokidog(Z5 UT)

This plant is very easy to grow - even here in Utah - zone 5! I literally threw greens I bought at an Asian Market into a small wading pool and they grew into edible plants by the end of the summer - and even flowered. It's best to cover the plants first with some sort of shade cloth to harden to the full sun over about 10 days. I grew them in no soil at all! It will grow in a little soil too. Plants in dryer soil (kept pretty wet but not inundated) did not fair as well. I suspect that the extreme dryness of the air here is a problem. It needs lots of light. The flowers are not that showy or abundant, so the original poster will not probably be very happy with this plant. Perhaps there are cultivars grown for their flowers, but the ones available in markets are the opposite (less flowers more greens). I've grown this one from seed too - the seeds probably need scarification to germinate more easily. They can be found on E-bay - look for different names. This is a very tasty green - one of my favorites. I guess it's flavor is not very strong (haters of spinach may like this green), but the texture is the best part - crunchy stems that don't cook down very easily. If you grow this in a wild pond - don't eat it unless cooked as the plant can carry parasites from the water (it's the same as drinking the water straight out of the pond). In a container it's much less of a problem.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 3:07PM
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reyna1(Zone 8)

This plant is also known as Kang Kong. This was extremely easy to grow in pots and even actually overran the pots and started growing everywhere. They love sun and they love lots of water. I grew this from the cuttings I got from the grocery store. We now have them overrunning a whole section of the yard.

There are two types that I have read about. One type loves only water and the other type grows in moist soil. The type I have has white flowers and grows in soil. The other type has a purplish center.

hope that helps

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 8:54PM
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