Mesozoic Monster

by Richard Moyroud
Click images to enlarge


This robust Victoria 'Longwood Hybrid' thrives in a pond at my nursery, Mesozoic Landscapes, Inc. in Lake Worth, Florida. I obtained the plant from Craig Presnell, Luster Aquatic Nursery, in April of 2003, along with another 'Longwood Hybrid', and a V. cruziana. Of all the Victoria plants that have grown here, this individual is the only one that persisted through the winter, though with smaller leaves, and then grew well through the summer, making it a second year plant. The two hurricanes flipped some leaves and dropped detritus over the pond, but recovery was rapid, with the results you now see in December 2004.  
  The pond is no more than 10 feet at the deepest, but the Victoria was planted in a 30 gallon container and nudged downslope to its final location (about 3-4 feet deep) within a few weeks of planting. The idea was to protect the young plant in shallow water until it started to grow rapidly. The only fertilization given was a large dose of 360-day Nutricote in the pot, then large doses (at six month intervals!) of the same plus another slow release 12-4-8, wrapped in newspaper with some clay, tied, and dropped near the base of the plant. 

The pond receives sun from mid-morning through the afternoon, and has a sandy bottom with some organic silt. It is an old pond, dug long before I bought the property in 1981, and is fringed with pond cypress on the east and north, and herbaceous plants to the south and west.

The Victoria averages 18 healthy pads at a time and they measure 6.5 feet each. It continues to produce pads and flowers regularly, even in its second December.

Victoria plants have not done as well in other ponds on the property, and I have had some battles with turtles, protecting young plants with wire mesh, or building the floating PVC turtle traps. I am sure that crayfish and other invertebrates cause additional damage. The plant at the right is in a small pool in the cypress swamp, still protected with the wire mesh.

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