Paul Noonan, anxious to try his hand at a very unusual aquatic plant, received two juvenile Euryale ferox from a grower in Australia, followed the included instructions to the letter, and nearly killed them. What follows is our Internet exchange that, given Paul's fierce determination, saved them. As a bonus, Paul has found substitutes for our Victoria Cocktail in Australia. Another bonus is "The Parallel Story".

What an Extremely Strange Life Form!

by Paul Noonan, Carrington, NSW Australia
with Kit Knotts
Click images to enlarge

December 2007

Paul: My Euryales have suffered from high pH tap water (pH 8.7) in a temporary pond and then water nutrification that took the pH up to 9.6, causing melting and burning of the leaves.

Kit: It probably wasn't pH that caused the melting and burning. Did you use peat in the bottom of the pots? Too much fertilizer, especially phosphorous, is the usual cause of melting. That's what the peat and ingredients in the cocktail seem to counteract.

Paul: They are now recovering but the nursery suggested I try your Cocktail for future nutrifying for a while. However the nurseryman couldn't recall how he constructed the Cocktail (concentrate or diluted) as his batch is several years old.

Kit: The single-most important ingredient is the humic acid in Roots. I'm not sure how important the extra iron is to Euryale. (It's Victoria cruziana that REALLY needs it and other Victorias benefit.) You could try any biostimulant available with or in combination with humic acid and peat.

Paul: I forgot to mention that as the nursery suggested, I put 2 cups of peat moss mixed into the 8 litres (2 US gallons) of pH 7 sandy loam garden soil around the Euryale, which arrived in the mail with about 5 leaves each, (including one adult leaf each). The peat wasn't all at the bottom where the fertilizer was sitting on top of newspaper. The fertilizer recommended for use was 1 cup (300 ml) of 4-3-2 pellets (containing blood and bone, seaweed, composted animal manure with 5% humates).

Kit: Yikes! Repot instantly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Get rid of the fertilizer! Go with sandy loam and peat, mixed is OK though the bottom of the pot for the peat is better. Use smaller pots for now with holes in them for sure. Maybe give a teaspoon of the pellet fertilizer weekly until they recover.


Early damage

Burnt leaf

Slight recovery

Mid-December 2007

Paul: The two Euryales may yet recover from their toxic shock. While the two floating leaves on each plant remain crimson red (a condition I suspect to be due to either the nutrient shock/high pH/lack of nutrient availability during leaf gestation), after I took your advice and put a teaspoon of the 4-3-2 pellets in each pot, the red leaves appear to be EVER SO SLOWLY greening.

Kit: Red is not good but the greening is encouraging!

Paul: One Euryale has two new leaves gestating. The slower of the two plants has one new leaf gestating, and the older of its two red floating leaves is starting to rot. In an attempt to fortify both plants against cell weakness and further leaf decay I put a few cc's of the biostimulant SEASOL into the soil yesterday. It's like ROOTS except doesn't have the humic acid. Seasol is made from Tasmanian Bull Kelp.

Kit: Kelp is good and will help. Still I hope you can find humic acid. Both seem to provide protection from fertilizer burn while allowing needed nutrients to get to the plants.

Mid-December 2007

Paul: I have bought another liquid product by the Seasol people which has 12-1.5-7 for NPK. It has also 3.8% humic acid, but I wasn't really sure about using it due to the high N. The Seasol + Seasol Powerfeed combo is also recommended by the Seasol people as great in foliar application. I began a test on one leaf each plant this morning.

Kit: High N, low P is good! You could use that in place of your pellets. The combination with Seasol might do it for you. But don't apply it to the foliage -- they don't like it at all!

Late December 2007

Paul: Both Euryales at present are going really well. The red leaves have gone green after I used a combo of 1cc of Seasol and 1cc of Seasol Powerfeed per plant (diluted in 20ml of tub water) a week ago. I got a brass tube with a plugged end and cut two holes in the side, and attached it to a syringe to inject the food horizontally into the soil at depth.

Late December 2007

Paul: After 16 days of following your advice the Euryales have each gone from 1.5 leaves per plant to 4.5 leaves with two more on the way on each plant. The 0.5 means the remains of an older half-rotted leaf. The biggest newest leaves are still reddish, but the older ones are very green. Leaves tend to come up very bright green with reddening tips, then they turn more red as they unfold. They slowly green and more new leaves keep coming up. The more recent leaves grow in size. In terms of the weather, half of the last fortnight was overcast, the latter half sunny and hot 90 F+ (32 C+).

In terms of food, each plant got:

Dec. 15: a teaspoon of 4-3-2 pellets wrapped in peat moss.

Dec. 20: 1ml of the 12-1.4-7 Seasol Powerfeed in 100ml of water injected into peat moss in the soil.

Dec. 22: 1ml of Seasol Kelp liquid and 1ml of 12-1.4-7 Seasol Powerfeed liquid injected with 18ml of water into peat moss I had just put in the soil. I'm confident the addition of the Seasol Kelp stopped the previous leaf rot.

Dec. 29: I put the pot from each plant into another pot with peat moss in the bottom of it, so there is now plenty of peat moss under each plant.

Dec. 30: 1ml of Seasol Kelp liquid and 1ml of 12-1.4-7 Seasol Powerfeed liquid injected with 15ml of water into the soil.

Jan. 1: biggest new leaves not visibly greening so another 1ml of Seasol Kelp liquid and 1ml of 12-1.4-7 Seasol Powerfeed liquid injected with 15ml of water into the soil.

These feeding rates seem to exceed your pad surface area divided by 180 rule for undiluted cocktail, but I suspect it's for the best to exceed your suggested Victoria feeding rate and give diluted feeds at higher frequencies at present.

The Parallel Story

Late December 2007
Since we were last in contact my wife gave birth to our first child. He is a big boy even though he came two weeks before his estimated due date. We named him Dominic William Noonan. He is very well and so is Nicole. From assisting with the birth in the hospital, I have come to a new understanding of the power of women . . . it was incredible.

Dominic late February 2008

Dominic April 2008 

New Year's Day, 2008

Paul: Some weeks ago I researched the composition of your published cocktail using info from the suppliers' web pages in the US and worked out the actual chemical composition of the cocktail as best I can.

With the known composition of basic Seasol and Seasol Powerfeed I can kind of relate my ingredients to yours. As we can't get Pondtabbs locally I intend to substitute my 4-3-2 pellets to come up with the equivalent of your 180/1200 program.  

Early January 2008

Paul: I just moved the Euryales into the kiddie pool which doesn't get as warm each day. The weather is quite overcast here at present.

Here is my spreadsheet which works out the basis of your cocktail so I can compare how 50/50 basic Seasol/Seasol Powerfeed relates to your cocktail. 


Your Cocktail:

180 square inches of pad = 1ml of basic 2007 cocktail undiluted and (180/1200=) 0.15 pondtabb. Thus the plant gets (in grams and also %W/V):

0.07 g 4.7% nitrogen
0.09 g 5.8% phosphorus
0.05 g 3.4% potassium
0.00 g 0.0% boron
0.00 g 0.2% copper
0.01 g 0.7% Iron
0.00 g 0.0% Manganese
0.00 g 0.1% Magnesium (Mg)
0.03 g 1.8% Humic Acids
0.03 g 1.7% Cold Water Kelp Extracts
0.02 g 1.2% Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
0.01 g 0.4% Amino Acids
0.00 g 0.2% Myo-Inositol
0.00 g 0.1% Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
0.00 g 0.0% Alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E) 



50% Powerfeed and 50% Seasol:

total g and %W/W
1 ml of the mix COMBINED

0.061 g 5.1% N
0.007 g 0.6% P
0.045 g 3.9% K
0.015 g 1.3% K-HUMATES

(Seasol is mainly cold water kelp and Powerfeed is mainly fish.)
To work out the ml's of 50/50, I divide the total leaf surface area by 140.


Today's question is how important is it that I give these plants phosphorus? You suggested I could try the 4-3-2 pellets but is it possible to use only fertilizers without phosphorus?

Kit: Try it! I think I know that phosphorus is what burns the plants. Many aquatics growers go for high P supposedly for more flowers but I think nitrogen loading works better. With Victoria, Euryale and tropical lilies, each new pad is accompanied by a bud, so why not go for foliar growth? This is not to say that every bud makes it to bloom but they usually do in adult plants.

Speaking of buds, keep an eye on your plants that they are not trying to bud! If they do, cut the buds off until the plants reach the size you want. Then you can let them bloom. 

Early January 2008

Paul: At this stage on each plant the new leaves are appearing out of a bigger "tube" than all the earlier ones. I think womb is a better word for the tube/sheaths the leaves come out of because they look like alien creatures being released from a mother pod.

Early February 2008

Paul: The Euryales are having a nice time. I now add chelated iron to each plant each week, but bumped up the rate from 0.7% FE per feed to 1% per feed. To add the iron I use 1/3 ml of (2.5 g/100 ml of water) Yates Chelated Iron solution to 1 ml of 50/50 Powerfeed/Seasol. My biggest leaves are currently 13.5 x 15 inches (34 x 38 centimeters). Happy days!

Mid-February 2008

Paul: The Euryale I am allowing to flower has had one big pod for well over a week that has never opened, it’s kind of hiding at one side of the pot now. Another big pod has been coming along for a week, hasn’t seemingly opened either and is now heading to the pot side also. A third flower is coming up.

Kit: You almost have to sit there and watch for the flowers to open -- they only open for a half hour or so. As long as the bud stem is straight up, the flower hasn't opened. Once it starts sideways, it has opened and self-pollinated.

Late February 2008

Paul: After having no flowers open before our eyes (out of about eight so far) at 10:18am this morning I saw one open sepal on one of the two furled flowers still vertical today. One was quite well out of the water, one less so but still out of the water appreciably. I came back 10 minutes later and it was the same. It was also the same 10 minutes later. I then thought of assisting the flowers to open because they looked like the sepals were too securely fastened . . . Hey presto!! Both flowers gladly sprung open. But not fully. At 2 pm they were still open! The leaves still seem to get bigger even though both plants are flowering.

Late February 2008

Paul: What an extremely strange life form!


Late March 2008    

Paul: Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time for the last few weeks to attend to the E. feroxes, but yesterday noticed three of my bagged pods have ruptured, producing a range of seed sizes in each. Are the arils only for floating the seed around? Are seeds potentially viable if arils are rotten?

Kit: Yes and yes. Rotting arils do not affect seed viability.

Paul: Are biggest seeds most likely to be viable?

Kit: Yes. 

Paul: My plants are shrinking as I’ve missed a few feeds now. Should I generally back off the feeding given it’s cooling off here?

No. If they are going to make it, they need to be fed.

Paul: Do they die off or can they go through winter?

Kit: It depends on how cold you get. Here they can go over but die in the spring. Yours haven't gotten big enough to have serious overgrowth but you might want to repot before it gets really cold. 

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