Arrowhead: how to grow a plant for a pond

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Arrowhead: how to grow a plant for a pond
Arrowhead: how to grow a plant for a pond

Description of the arrowhead plant, recommendations for planting and care in the aquatic environment, reproduction, pests, diseases and difficulties in growing, interesting facts for gardeners, species and varieties.

Arrowhead (Sagittaria) belongs to the genus of representatives of the flora growing in the water element. It belongs to the family Alismataceae. Based on the information obtained from The Plant List, the genus has united more than forty species (according to some sources, this number is close to 45), which prefer to settle in regions with a temperate and tropical climate. All arrowheads grow on the coastline of both natural and artificial large and small reservoirs, and swampy areas are also referred to them.

At the same time, the arrowhead can be a vivid example of ecological demorphism (there are specific differences among representatives of the same species). So plants growing in water, the depth of which exceeds 1.5 m, have only aquatic foliage of ribbon-like outlines. Those that are settled at the edge between the soil and water have arrow-shaped leaf plates of an overground nature.

Family name Chastukhovye
Growing period Perennial
Vegetation form Herbaceous
Breeds Seeds or tubers, terry forms only vegetatively
Open ground transplant terms In the spring or autumn
Landing rules 8-30 cm from the surface of the water
Priming Nutrient silty substrate
Water acidity values, pH 5, 5 for soft water, for hard about 8
Cultivation temperature, degrees 22–25
Illumination level Sunny, open areas or moderate light
Humidity level When grown in soil, sufficient constant moisture is recommended
Special care rules Clean water and feeding
Height options 0.2-1.1 m
Flowering period In mid-June
Type of inflorescences or flowers Racemose inflorescences
Color of flowers Whitish pink or white
Fruit type Achene with a spout
The timing of fruit ripening Since august
Decorative period Summer-autumn
Application in landscape design For landscaping the coastal zone of reservoirs
USDA zone 5–10

The genus of arrowheads got its name from an adjective in Latin, which passed to a noun (substantivized) - "sagittaria", which translates as "lancet", thus reflecting the contours of the leaf plates. In Russian, you can hear the following synonymous names - shilnik, swamp or arrow.

All arrowhead species are herbaceous perennials. As mentioned above, they can grow completely or partially submerged in the aquatic environment, that is, they can have a hydrophytic life form. The rhizome has a short outline and a thickened appearance. The stem originates from it, on the surface of which three facets are visible. The height of the styloid stems varies in the range of 0, 2–1, 1 m. The stem, completely under water, is characterized by aerenchyma - its interior is distinguished by the presence of airborne tissue. Arrowhead's stems are deep green in color.

The plant is characterized by the presence of stolons - this is the name of the lateral shoots, which die off rather quickly, have leaves and axillary buds of an underdeveloped state, and the possibility of the formation of shortened shoots in the form of tubers on them. Often, the arrowhead on the stolons also has corms growing under the soil surface. In some species, the color of the tubers is pinkish, and there are those whose color scheme is bluish. The entire root system is formed by filamentous root processes.

As mentioned above, the shape of the leaves is directly dependent on how the bog grows. If the leaves are under the surface of the water surface, then their outlines are simple and elongated, which resembles thin threads or have ribbon-like contours. The length of such leaves reaches 1, 2 m, they are colored yellowish-green and translucent in the light. The arrowhead foliage, floating on the surface of the reservoir, has an elliptical or rounded arrow-shaped shape, is attached to the stems with the help of long petioles. Well, the leaves growing above the water, with their outlines, are similar to arrows. They vary in length within 25–30 cm, with a width of about 4–12 cm. Usually, the emergent leaves are of a beautiful juicy green color, on their surface veins are clearly visible, colorfully diverging from the base to the edges.

Around the middle of June, the arrowhead forms racemose inflorescences, made up of whorls, numbering three flowers each. Flowers are dioecious. When opened, their diameter reaches 1, 2–5 cm. The flower consists of a calyx with three sepals of a green hue and three white or whitish-pink petals. The middle of the corolla is convex and spherical in shape. In the lower part, two whorls are formed by pistillate flowers, the rest are staminate.

It is noted that pistillate flowers have shorter flowering stems. Some species are characterized by the presence of double varieties. The flowering process stretches until the end of August. Arrowhead flowers are pollinated by insects. After that, the ripening of the fruits begins at the shilnik, which takes the form of achenes with a spout. The surface of the fruit is hard, rounded in shape. Achenes float on the water surface of the reservoir, while they themselves, like seeds, spread through the current - a property of hydrochoria. The seeds are flat in shape and, when fully ripe, the fruit can separate from them and go with the flow.

The arrowhead plant looks quite attractive in the coastal area of the reservoir and with minimal maintenance it can be grown both outdoors and in an indoor aquarium.

Recommendations for planting and caring for the arrowhead in the aquatic environment

Arrowhead in water
Arrowhead in water
  1. Landing place Shilnik, of course, should be a body of water or in close proximity to water (in shallow water). It is important to take into account that the plant likes it when the flow is either very slow, or the water in the reservoir is stagnant. If there is no possibility of full or partial immersion of the arrowhead in the water element, then due to its plasticity, it will be able to grow in the soil, which must be constantly well moistened. It is best when planting is carried out in an area illuminated by the sun's rays, but moderately lit places are suitable for some species.
  2. Arrowhead soil it is worth choosing a nutritious one, since it has been noticed that with a poor composition, growth will be very slowed down and may stop altogether. You should not plant the plant in clean sand, it is best if it is silted up. A muddy substrate is the best choice.
  3. Arrowhead landing held in spring or late autumn. The depth to which the corms are immersed should be from 8 to 30 cm from the water surface. When planting in soil, the root collar must remain on the surface of the soil. If the plant is at a depth of more than 5 meters, it can also develop, but it does not form flowering and emergent foliage.
  4. Water temperature when growing arrowhead should be in the range of 20-26 degrees. If the column of the thermometer drops to the mark of 20 units, then the growth of the bog is slowed down, the foliage becomes small.
  5. General advice on care. Arrowhead is a plant that reacts sharply to the purity of the water in the reservoir. If it became cloudy, and a large number of organic particles began to float in it, then the foliage quickly becomes covered with a bloom and perishes.
  6. Recommendations for growing arrowheads in an aquarium. If the bog will be kept indoors, then the lighting should only be overhead. It is noticed that when the aquarium is illuminated sideways, the shape of the bush becomes ugly. If there is not enough light, the plant will react by pulling out the stems, especially the arrowhead variety Eaton (Sagittaria eatoni). Aquarium lighting can be natural when it is on a windowsill or artificial using special lamps. Then it is better to use fluorescent lamps at the rate of 0.4 W per 1 liter of water or incandescent lamps - 1.5 W for the same volume of water. Daylight hours in any case, when kept, should be 10-14 hours a day. When grown in an aquarium, for normal growth of arrowhead, the thickness of the substrate layer should be about 5 cm. You need to use a nutritious muddy composition, which includes river sand and small pebbles. Planting is then carried out into the ground to a depth of 2-3 cm. If we talk about the hardness and acidity of water, then it does not play a big role when growing arrowhead, but it should be noted that when using soft water, acidity values are preferable to pH 5, 5, and for hard - this figure is about 8. The plant over time will have a strong root system, but the tubers will still be fragile and tender, so when transplanting, care is required. When the arrowhead is planted in a new place, it is recommended to place a lump of clay or silt, which is taken from an old aquarium, under its roots. This will contribute to the quick adaptation of the bog in a new place. Both in a natural reservoir and in an aquarium, cleanliness of the water is vital for the arrowhead. To do this, during the aquarium maintenance, the water is changed 3-4 times a month, so that 1 / 5-1, 4 of the volume of the entire liquid is renewed.
  7. Watering when caring for an arrowhead, of course, only those plants that grow on land are needed. In this case, the soil should never be dry. Moisturizing is carried out frequently and abundantly. When planting in pots, there should be no holes in their bottoms, then the water will stand in the soil almost to the edges of the container.
  8. Fertilizers when growing arrowhead, it is recommended to apply for plants growing both in water and on land. For this, any complex mineral preparations (for example, Kemiru-Universal) are used on the basis that only 1.5–2 grams of the product should fall on 100 liters of water.
  9. Wintering arrowhead tubers should be carried out according to the following rules. So the tubers in November are separated from the stolons of the mother bush, the entire aerial part of which has died out. The tubers must be placed in a container with water so that they do not dry out and pieces of soil fall off from them. After that, a plastic film is placed in a plastic box, on which a barely wet layer of sand is poured. Tubers are in one row on it and again sprinkled with sand. So gradually you can fill the entire box with corms sprinkled with sand. The sand should not be completely dry, as the arrowhead tubers will dry out by spring and will be unsuitable for planting. If there is no need to get tubers, then the plant can be left for wintering in water. Even if the reservoir freezes over the winter, it will not harm the arrowhead. This is due to the fact that with the arrival of spring, the plant will have growth buds, and they will give rise to new stems.
  10. Arrowhead application in landscape design. Such an ornamental plant will successfully decorate not only a reservoir (natural or artificial, with a slowly moving current or with stagnant water) available on the site, but also an aquarium. If the landscape was conceived in a natural or exotic style, then the bog bushes will fit any of the ideas. Any other representatives of the flora against the background of its rich green foliage will look very harmonious. At the same time, you can not be afraid for the latter, since during growth and cultivation the arrowhead does not show aggressiveness. Leaves and tubers can be used for food not only by ducks, but also by aquatic animals (for example, muskrats). If you have a cold-water aquarium or terrarium, then you can also cultivate an awl.

Read on: Growing calla lilies in the garden and at home.

Arrowhead breeding tips

Arrowhead grows
Arrowhead grows

It is possible to get new shilnik bushes by sowing seeds or planting nodules formed at the ends of the stolons. There is talk about the double form of the arrowhead, then reproduction is possible only vegetatively (separation of the overgrown curtain).

  1. Arrowhead propagation by division. Since, when growing in a pond or coastline, young bushes appear next to a plant over time, they can be separated in the spring or at the end of autumn and transplanted. Such "young growth" takes its origin from the corms growing on the stolons. The plots of the bog bush must be separated from the mother plant and quickly planted, not allowing the root system to dry out.
  2. Arrowhead propagation by tubers. In November, young tubers are formed at the ends of the stolons, which will serve as planting material. Each of the bushes can produce up to 15 corms. But the landing should be carried out only with the arrival of spring. It is recommended to send such material for storage in winter.
  3. Reproduction of arrowhead by seeds practically not used by gardeners, since plants can easily be propagated by the methods described above, and this method is applicable only to breeders or in breeding farms.

See also tips for self-propagating philodendron.

Potential diseases, pests and difficulties in growing arrow leaves

Arrowhead blooms
Arrowhead blooms

It is important to note that such a plant as a shilnik very rarely affects both pests and diseases. However, in some cases, the following problems arise:

  • seaweed, clogging the bog with their stems and foliage;
  • snails, gnawing tender leaves of arrowhead;
  • severe slowdown in growth rate, due to improperly selected soil and a decrease in water temperature below 18 degrees Celsius;
  • plaque on the leaves and their subsequent destruction occurs due to turbid water, which contains a large amount of organic particles;
  • stretching the stems up and loss of decorative effect contributes to the low level of lighting;
  • foliage turns yellow from a lack of iron;
  • leaf plates turn pale due to lack of trace elements.

Read also about the difficulties of cultivating the ostrich in the open field and ways to solve them.

Interesting facts for gardeners about the arrowhead plant

Arrowleaf bloom
Arrowleaf bloom

Shilnik not only has the opportunity to use it for decorative purposes, since the tubers of some of its species contain a lot of starch in themselves, it has long been customary to eat them. These parts of the plant taste a bit like edible chestnuts. Tubers are usually boiled or baked.

It is interesting that the arrowhead tubers in their composition surpass the well-known potatoes by 5 times in proteins, they are about one and a half times less watery than potatoes and are as many times superior in starch content. However, there is also a negative aspect - when the bog tubers are boiled in salted water, then after eating them, you can feel some bitterness in the mouth. If the tubers are dried and made into a powder, then it is added to baked goods, but mostly both main dishes and side dishes are prepared from them.

It is customary to grow a cultural form in Japan and China. three-leafed sagittaria (Sagittaria trifolia). Tubers are also used for feeding muskrats. There are types of arrowheads that can be grown in aquariums and then their foliage becomes soft ribbon-like outlines. If sand is used as soil, the growth of plants will be suppressed, that is, they will remain in the juvenile (not capable of fruiting and reproduction) stage, which is to the taste of many aquarists.

Arrowhead foliage is also used in folk medicine, since the plant contains tannins and many vitamins, organic acids and minerals, as well as disaccharides and flavonoids. On their basis, it is customary to prepare decoctions or use fresh. Such remedies help get rid of skin diseases caused by fungi or infection, help stop bleeding and promote early healing of wounds.

In the mythology of the Slavs, the plant was associated with a cat with a golden color of wool, and holding the stem of an awl in its teeth - this is how the spirit and guardian of the matrimonial bed - Lyub - was represented.

Description of types and varieties of arrowhead

In the photo Arrowhead ordinary
In the photo Arrowhead ordinary

Arrowhead (Sagittaria sagittifolia)

may occur under the name Arrowhead arrowhead. The natural distribution area stretches from the Irish lands and Portugal to Bulgaria and Finland, can be found in the vastness of Russia, as well as in Ukraine and Turkey, Japan and Vietnam, not uncommon on the Australian continent. It is often grown as a food crop. Perennial with herbaceous growth. The leaves are arrow-shaped with a pointed tip. During summer flowering, inflorescences-brushes are formed on the peduncle, composed of whorls containing three flowers each, with white petals with a speck of crimson color.

All common arrowheads, depending on growth, are divided into three varieties and are characterized by different types of leaves and flowering:

-On the ground and shallow water, the shlik has arrow-shaped leaf plates, flowering occurs in the middle of summer;

- adapted to life in the depths of water, they have translucent ribbon-shaped leaves with a yellowish-green color, flowering in such arrowheads is completely absent;

- rare species with floating foliage, shaped like arrows with a rounded base, attached to the stems with long stalks.


On one plant of arrowhead arrowhead, leaf plates of all three types are almost never found. The size of the leaves can vary between 7-16 cm.

The most popular variety is Flore Pleno, characterized by large leaves and flowers of a double structure. Flowering stems can reach a height of half a meter.

In the photo Arrowhead broadleaf
In the photo Arrowhead broadleaf

Broadleaf arrowhead

(Sagittaria platyphylla) occurs under the name Sagittaria broadleaf. The difference from the common arrowhead is that the leaves are large in width (about 3-4 cm) and reach 20 cm in length. It is used for aquarium cultivation, where goldfish and cichlids are kept. It is recommended to use a substrate with a coarse-grained structure, good, but diffused bright lighting and feed every month.

The most common varieties of arrowhead broadleaf are:

  • Leopard spot has leaves of rounded outlines, decorated with a crimson-brownish spot;
  • Rubescens has a pubescent foliage surface;
  • Flore pleno the structure of the corolla is terry, the petals have a corrugated surface;
  • Brevifolia leaf plates have rather narrow outlines and a pointed top.
Pictured is a dwarf arrowhead
Pictured is a dwarf arrowhead

Dwarf arrowhead (Sagittaria subulata)

also bears the name Sagittarius is dwarf. The height of this herb does not exceed 10 cm. Due to this, dense clumps of bright green foliage are formed. The shape of the leaf plates is narrowed. This species is the most commonly used in the aquarium business. Introduced to our territory from Holland at the end of the 20th century (approximately in the 80s).

In the photo Arrowhead subulate
In the photo Arrowhead subulate

Arrowhead subulate (Sagittaria subulata)

can be used for cultivation, both in water and on the coastal zone. Natural distribution occurs in swampy areas and slow-flowing river arteries. The leaves are narrow in outline and 7–20 cm long, but some specimens can reach 0.4 m in height. Through the leaves, leaf rosettes are formed. The foliage is green or greenish brown. Characteristic properties are unpretentiousness and the ability to survive pruning.

By its shape and properties, the subulate arrowhead is very similar to Vallisneria. The central vein is clearly visible on the surface of the leaves. Reproduction can be carried out by means of "whiskers" spreading over the soil surface. The "whiskers" of the arrowhead subulate take their origin from leaf rosettes with an upward direction. In the spring and summer, floating leaves of a light green color are formed. This species often blooms when grown in aquariums or paludariums. The flowering stems are refined and filiform. For cultivation, the recommended temperature is in the range of 23-26 degrees. Root top dressing with peat or clay balls is recommended.

Stelolist subulate for the winter period should be removed from the reservoir, since this species does not differ in winter hardiness. Prefers a slightly brackish water element for growth.

In the photo, the Shooter of Eaton
In the photo, the Shooter of Eaton

Shooter Eaton (Sagittaria eatoni)

The native area of growth falls on the lands of the North American continent. It is the most beautiful species in the genus. With the help of leaves of a light green color, a rosette is formed. The tops of the foliage are characterized by rounded tips that curl downward. The stems can reach a height of 15 to 20 cm.

In the photo, the arrowhead is floating
In the photo, the arrowhead is floating

Floating arrowhead (Sagittaria natans)

… The species was first described by a botanist of German-Russian origin in 1776 Peter Simon Pallas (1741–1811). The plant is distributed in nature from northern European regions to Japan. Prefers a marsh environment, while the regeneration buds are located under the water surface (helophyte). It has a short rhizome or it takes on racemose outlines. Leaf plates are characterized by swept or elliptical contours.

At the top of the floating arrowhead leaves, there is a sharpening, despite the fact that the base is arrow-shaped. The length of the leaves is 8–10 cm with a width of about 2–3 cm. When flowering, the floating awl bloom small flowers, the petals of which there are three pieces, their color is white. The fruit is a leaflet of a rich green hue. Both flowering and fruiting fall on the period from June to September.

Related article: Planting and caring for a loosestrife in open field conditions

Video about growing and using arrowhead:

Arrowhead photos:

Arrowhead Photo 1
Arrowhead Photo 1
Arrowhead Photo 2
Arrowhead Photo 2
Arrowhead Photo 3
Arrowhead Photo 3
Arrowhead Photo 4
Arrowhead Photo 4
Arrowhead Photo 5
Arrowhead Photo 5