Tenerife gardening: Create your own oasis

by BardofEly

Tenerife a subtropical island in the Canary Islands but it is still possible to create a water garden in your garden and to view these in parks.

Water gardens in Tenerife
Dragonflies, frogs, water lilies and goldfish, might not be the first things that come to mind when you think of Tenerife, but they are all to be found here. Even in tropical temperatures it's possible to create a pond and water garden, or your own personal oasis in the desert perhaps?

Water Hyacinth

An easy to grow floating plant
Water Hyacinth floating plants

Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)

Also known as Water Cabbage
Water Lettuce plants
Water Lettuce plants

Garden centres

Where to find water plants

Garden centres often have their own pools, and should be able to supply everything the ambitious water-gardener needs from pool-liners, fountains, pumps and waterside ornaments through to fish and oxygenating, floating and marginal plants. Amongst the latter, the Umbrella Sedge (Cyperus alternifolius), which looks like a miniature papyrus plant, is a very popular choice, and adds a certain exotic appeal. It can be grown as an attractive houseplant too, and is easy to propagate by dividing the crown or by cutting off one of the umbrella-shaped flower stalks, leaving a small amount of stem below, and then standing this in water until it roots.

Water lilies (Nymphaea spp .) are almost a tradition when it comes to garden ponds, and besides looking great they provide shade for the fish. The Water Hyacinth (Eichornia crassipes) and Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) also float on the surface and provide a similar function. The former has shiny green leaves arising from inflated spongy stems and a mass of feathery roots below the water, and these can act as a great place for your fish to spawn. It bears a beautiful blueish-purple or lilac-coloured flower, hence its name.

The Water Lettuce has velvety fluted leaves and reproduces itself rapidly with daughter plants sent out on runners. This is the means the Water Hyacinth uses to propagate itself too, and both these plants can easily cover the water surface and may need thinning out.

They can be seen in all their glory in the ornamental pond at the Jardín Botánico in Puerto de la Cruz, and this magnificent garden is well worth a visit, a visit that will inspire any gardener with the sheer range of tropical and exotic species on display.

It's not just the plants that provide the appeal of the place, because terrapins can be seen in the pool as well, and they often haul themselves out of the water to bask in the sun. These attractive creatures may be available from pet shops but they tend to grow too large and may cause a problem by making a meal of your prized fish.

Tropical fish

A popular hobby for many people

Speaking of fish, Red Platies (Platypoecilus maculata), a variety well known to tropical fish fanciers, can be seen swimming in the pond there too. In Tenerife, because of its high temperatures all year round, it is possible to keep such species in your garden pool, and this means you are not confined to a choice of goldfish or koi carp, but can be a bit more adventurous with the types you decide to keep.

It's not just the plants and fish you choose that will be part of your water garden, because wild creatures like dragonflies, damselflies and even frogs may eventually find a home there.


In a pond in a park
Terrapin in Tenerife park

Tree Frog

Stripeless Tree Frog (Hyla meriodonalis)
Mediterranean Tree Frog
Mediterranean Tree Frog

Tree Frogs in Tenerife

It may surprise you to know that there are actually at least two types of frog that can be found on Tenerife, the Stripeless Tree Frog (Hyla meriodonalis) and the Iberian Water Frog (Rana perezii). These species were introduced and tend to spawn wherever they can find freshwater. On these islands it is in short supply and irrigation tanks and reservoirs often become homes to these amphibians, but a garden pool would suit their needs, and makes a good mini nature reserve. The frogs of Tenerife need suitable places to call home.

So, by having a pond or water garden you can be doing a valuable bit of conservation work, as well as creating a place to enjoy. There's something very relaxing and pleasurable about a pool of sparkling water, and it doesn't have to be the type you can swim in.

Footnote: First published in Living Tenerife, 2005.

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

Updated: 01/10/2013, BardofEly
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BardofEly on 10/06/2012

Yes they do but they are still on sale in many places and a beautiful plant! Also excellent for breeding fish because they lay their eggs in the roots.

Sheri_Oz on 10/06/2012

The water hyacinth grows like a weed. I had them in a backyard pond many years ago and they just kept on multiplying and multiplying. I guess I need a hippo to keep them cut back, eh?

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