a sunny spot that gets five or more hours of full sun, and can be made
mostly level. The main viewing area (path) should be from the south
side. You can use rope or garden hose to mark an outline which will be
the perimeter of the bog. Leave a 6-8 foot space on the north side of
this bog if you plan on using large background plants such as Iris
pseudacorus, Hibiscus coccineus, etc. Large plants must not shade out
the bog. Bog gardens also can be placed along the edge of a water
This design, especially good for
Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia), hardy Sundews (Drosera), and the Venus's
Flytrap (Dionaea), is intended for outdoor use in USDA zones 6 and
warmer. Other plants that enjoy this system include hardy bog orchids
(Calopogon, Pogonia, others), Bog Buttons (Marshallia), Bog Gentians,
Lobelia, Sabatia, Orange Milkwort (Polygala lutea), and many other bog
plants. Adaptations in plant species and winter coverings may increase
the range where this design is useful. Cranberries are not recommended
as they grow too aggressively!
1. Dig the outlined bog to a depth of
12-14 inches, removing soil to form a basin. The bottom should be mostly
flat, level or slightly pitched. The sides should go mostly straight
2. If moles or tunneling rodents are a
problem in your area, line the basin with galvanized hardware cloth,
screening, or heavy, woven weed cloth/barrier. Use rot/rust resistant
3. Line the bottom and sides of the
basin with 4-6 mil plastic sheeting (on top of any mole/ rodent
protection.) Leave plenty of excess plastic along the edges; it can be
trimmed away after the bog is filled and settled. Cut several ten-inch
slits in the liner base, every foot or so. This will allow the bog to
drain, while the liner holds most of the moisture in the bog.
4. Add 2-3 inches of moist sand to the
bottom. Coarse sands are good to use. Do not use beach sand!
5. Fill the remaining basin with: 1
part sand + 3 parts peat moss, dampened and mixed well.
Tamp the mix in place using a bow
rake; this will reduce settling of the mix. The bog should be filled
until it is about an inch below surrounding, existing, soil level.
6. The lining materials can be trimmed
as needed. It is wise to leave about 12 inches of liner/mammal guard
exposed in case the bog settles further; this edge can be hidden with
mulch, pine needles, rocks, etc.
7. Paths of rough stones or
bricks should be made through the bog, and over these should be placed
flat stepping stones, in order to make every part of the bog accessible.
If these paths are made at varying heights, they may be used to divide
the bog into shelving beds, the higher and better-drained of which will
accommodate plants not requiring too much moisture, while in the
lower-lying sites can be for the real moisture-lovers.
Plant Shelf in a Pond or in a Container
construction of a pond, minimize the use of shelves for potted plants
and instead, build planting pockets for bog plants right into the
edges of the pond.
Size of the planting
areas can vary greatly, from a tiny sliver of space to large planting
zones. You just need a way to hold back the soil from washing away
into the pond.
The diagram at left illustrates an
example of a bog gardening area with a deeper depth for moisture loving
plants and shallower one for bog plants that need to be a bit higher and
dryer. The diagram at right shows how to set up a bog as a
Normally, there won't
be much to do but to remove any leaf debris left from the fall or that
has blown in over the winter. Be sure to replant any plants that
have heaved from ground freezing and thawing over the winter.
Constant saturation is not needed, but
the soil mix should not dry out. Try soaker hoses, buried three
inches below the surface and about two feet apart, to deliver efficient
irrigation. Gentle hand watering is an option. Five-day watering
intervals are typical, depending on weather. Unless a natural flow of
water is available, you need to provide an artificial trickle, just
sufficient to keep the bog swampy. If required in the summer, turn the
hose on and let the bog flood.
A mulch 6 inches deep of pine needles
or oak leaves is wise in zone 6 and colder parts of zone 7. This mulch
should be added about December to late February, then removed once
temperatures are above 32° F. If plants are pushed out of the soil by
ice, replant immediately. Dead leaves can be trimmed off about two
inches above soil level. Do not fertilize! Feeding insects to
carnivorous plants is not needed outdoors. Enjoy the show!
New growth will begin very quickly if
planted properly (see Planting a Bog Garden). The
leaves that were present on the plant when shipped to you or when you
bought it will often die soon after planting and will be replaced by new
foliage. Protect from sun if necessary for a day or two with a layer of
lightweight cloth. Once growth is underway; the plants require normal
maintenance like any other perennial.
Keep dead or dying leaves pinched off
for the best appearance. Remove dead flowers to prevent seed production
and to boost continued blooming on most varieties. You will have
to follow the stems of dead leaves or flower stalks on deeper-water bog
plants down to the soil level to remove them.
As the fall season winds
down, the leaves die off at a faster rate than they are being produced.
Consequently, leaves are being removed for maintenance faster than new
ones grow. The plants will slowly become thinner with less foliage until
there is none left. Sometimes it is preferable to leave some dying
leaves to dry for winter texture and foliage effect.
Like other herbaceous perennials the leaves and stems should be pretty
well gone as winter sets in. If the plants are planted directly in a bog
area, they should be left alone except to clean up any dead foliage.
Plants that are in pots around ledges on your pond can be lowered to the
deeper water if desired, but must be brought back up in late winter
before any growth occurs. Most plants tolerate being left in place
without moving them at all (in Zone 6 or warmer). All dead growth must
be removed if the plant is to be lowered under the water.