Water soldier (Stratiotes Aloides) is an unusual and striking British native floating plant with rosettes of sword-shaped serrated leaves. It is dioecious (male and female reproductive organs are in separate plants) and only the female plant occurs naturally in the UK -this produces a single 3 petalled white to slightly pink flower held above the water in summer. A favourite of dragonfly nymphs which use the erect leaves to emerge from the pond prior to their final larval moult to emerge as an adult dragonfly.
It floats part-submerged through the spring and summer and then becomes coated with a slimy secretion of calcium carbonate (lime) in the autumn and sinks to the bottom of the pond, re-emerging in spring when new growth provides buoyancy.
They are considered invasive in some countries where they are not native and not recommended in Northern Ireland where they listed as an invasive non-native species. They do not set seed in the UK but each plant produces several new ones each year on runners, but these are very easy to control by removing from the mother plant or just picking out newly formed plants. These should be composted or disposed of in the green waste section of your local recycling centre, never discarded in the wild.
Please note that they are quite delicate and do not like handling/travelling as they are quite brittle so be aware they may be a bit ragged around the edges, and may float on their side for some time before acclimatising to their new pond. They are thought to prefer slightly alkaline water. Usually available towards the end of April/early May.
Planting position: Floating in water at least 50cm deep
Form: Bare root