How to Start Water Lily Seeds

You can start water lily seeds!

There are two responses a water lily flower has after it has finished blooming.

The first is for the stem to collapse and the flower floats downward in th water with the stem staying straight. No pollination has occurred and you don't have seeds.

The second is for the flower to lower itself on the stem in a spiral and submerge itself all coiled up. Congratulations, you have a seedpod developing!

Collecting Seed

The first step in how to start water lily seeds is figure out a way to collect the seed. :-) The easiest way is to put the blossom into a cloth bag and allow the seed to develop this way.

The second easiest is to to pick the flower about 10-12 days after it has gone under the water and put that flower pod into a container of distilled water to continue growing.

When To Plant

As soon as the pod releases the individual seed, you can plant them. Do not remove the gelatin coating on the seed.

Spread the seed on soil (use a heavy clay soil - not a potting soil) in a very shallow growing pan - approximately 3-4 inches deep. Cover the seed very lightly with sand. We don't want them floating away.


Put the growing pan in an aquarium or some water container where the top of the soil will be 2-3 inches below the surface and the water is warm.

They'll require a great deal of full sunlight at this point so if you're doing this indoors, ensure they get lots of light but nothing hot and fully direct (in other words, a grow lamp 6 inches above the seed tray is too close but one 18-24 inches above is likely fine.

It will take several weeks for the first seeds to germinate. Leave them alone.

When the first leaves reach the surface of the water, the seeds can be removed carefully and potted up in small individual pots. It is a good idea to put a small bit of compost into the bottom of the pot before you fill the rest of it with soil. We need to gently feed our small lilies at this transplant stage or we need to give them a source of food when the roots start growing.

Cover the individual pots with 2-4 inches of water.

Six Months

You're likely looking at six months for these baby plants to be ready for outdoor planting.

The biggest killer in the seedling stage is algae. If you have string algae in the aquarium, it must be controlled or it can choke out the plant growth. You have to control this manually as any algaecide (even that safe for fish and aquarium plants) will kill these tender baby plants. Twirl it around a pencil or other small stick (toothpicks work well right up around the baby plants) and pull it out on a regular basis.

Once the seedling roots are filling the pot and running out the bottom holes, they are ready for transplanting outdoors.

And that's how you start water lily seeds.

Shopping Resources for this Page

You can start water lily seeds by obtaining seeds and some plants here. Note there are also Lotus seeds in this search area.

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