Hardy Water Lilies

Hardy water lilies are a major class of water garden plants. I'll describe them here so you'll be able to grow them successfully. Other practical stuff is below and linked into this page.

There are some major differences between water lilies and soil-based garden plants. A basic difference is that the roots of most water garden plants do not have the tiny root hairs found on regular garden plants. Those tiny root hairs are responsible for absorbing water in our garden plants but because water plants have adapted to growing underwater, they have different mechanisms for absorbing water. Water lilies also tend to have their stomata (similar to sweat cells) on top of the leaves rather than below the leaves like most plants (it it's kinda hard to eliminate excess water and absorb oxygen when the sweat gland is underwater). And that's the end of the biology lesson for this page.

How to Grow a Water Lily





More Growing Tips



To begin with, hardy pond lilies are the tough ones. Unless you freeze them solid, they are one of the easiest of plants to grow. They require very little attention during the summer months; other than pruning off the dying leaves and flowers they are quite happy to sit in their pond and bloom.

These pond lily plants bloom during the day opening in the late morning (the actual time depends on the time of year, the heat of the water and available sunlight) but then they close down again the late afternoon. This means if you work for a living, you're only going to see the hardy blooms on the weekend. (evening blooming plants are available in more tender tropical water lilies.

Hardy lilies need at least six full hours of sunlight a day
if they are to bloom properly. A few hybrids will bloom with a bit less than that (and they are often marketed for this purpose) but no lily will bloom in the shade. Think about it for a moment. How many trees are there out in the middle of a lake or big swamp where we find these plants in nature?
 

Water lilies do not like being near splashing water


Those sweat glands (stomata) we mentioned earlier on top of the leaves absorb oxygen. If the splash from fountains covers these tiny holes with water, the plant can actually drown (similar to putting a regular garden plant under water) I'm told by experts in such things that even if the plant doesn't drown, the bacteria in water can enter the stomata and multiply - effectively killing the leaf. If you kill enough leaves, you kill off the plant.

Grow water lilies in still water that is approximately eighteen to thirty inches deep.


A rule of thumb is the smaller the variety, the shallower the water and the bigger the variety, the deeper the water. So, miniature tropical varieties can survive and bloom nicely in water that is just under a foot in depth while the largest spreading varieties can survive in water up to four feet deep. On average, the eighteen to thirty inches is a great rule of thumb. And if you want further planting information, you can find it here.

Yes, water lilies adapt to the depth of the water they are in.


The stems stretch out to allow the leaf to float on the surface. My experience in the nursery was that the flower buds would also stretch out (so you can buy a budded plant and move it from shallow to deeper water) but once the bud started to open into a flower, the stem lost its elasticity and the flower stem would not elongate further. The leaves will adapt nicely to changes in water depth.

Planting

water lily Here's what you need to know about planting water lilies

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Starting Seeds

water lily A step by step process to start water lily seeds.

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Propagating Roots

water lily The easiest way to get more water lilies is to divide the roots in the very early spring

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Feeding Waterlilies

water lily It's really simple, you either feed these plants or they don't grow well and don't bloom. Greedy feeders!

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Pond Water Quality

water lily If you're having trouble growing waterlilies, this is good information to know

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Overwintering Waterlilies

water lily Here are the tricks to keep waterlilies alive over the winter in shallow ponds

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Tropical Waterlilies


How To Grow Tropicals

water lily The basics for success with tropical waterlilies are right here

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Overwintering Tropicals

water lily There are spefic methods to overwintering tropical lilies in non-tropical areas.

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Blue Water Lily

water lily If you want to grow the blue waterlily, you really need to read the overwintering section as well as this

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Planting Tropicals

water lily Here's how to plant tropical waterlilies

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Victoria Waterlily

water lily Grow this one when you're ready for the big time with a big pond

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Read What Others Have Said

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water lilies growing but not shooting to the surface  Hi. I have two water lily plants in my pond, I've had them both for a couple of years. This year for the first time, they seem to be growing, but the ...

how far do I cut back lillies   I have been told that I should cut back lillies hard during the winter ready for new growth in the spring. If this is true, how hard should I cut them ...

Leaves of water lillies going yellow   I've recently added a water lilly to my pond which is about a month old. The lilly is growing new leaves at a good rate but they soon start to turn yellow ...

Water lily holes  7.7.09 Oblong holes appear on the leaves of my water lilies. The holes are in a straight-line pattern. Attached is a photo.

Doug says he has no idea ...

Water lillies taking over the pond  How do I stop water lillies from taking over my pond?

Doug says you dig them up and divide them. You give the excess roots away to friends (or build ...

lily stand  I would like to raise two of my lilies about 18 inches from the bottom of my pond. Do you know of a plant stand for this purpose? The plants are in 16 ...

I have a piece of just the water lilly flower.  I have it in water and it has been 3 days living in the water, but it has not opened. Will it regrow it self, considering it was detatched from the plant ...

cutting back water lillies?  My lillies in my pond are getting very tall. Are you ever suppose to cut them down lower?

Doug says the only time to cut back water lilies is in the ...

Lilies whirling under water and dying  My dad has a beautiful pond out at his work. We are trying to figure out why the Lily Flowers are whirling under water. There is nothing wrong with the ...

black caterpillars on leaves   I have lots of black caterpillars on my lilly leaves eating them away,how can I get rid of them please?

Doug says this is always an interesting question ...

How often do water lilies bloom and how many flowers will they make?  I have a pond that has been in for 15+ years. This year we finally decided to try a water lilly to get some shade for our fish and to help keep the algae ...

When can hardy lilies be planted  i was thinking of buying some hardy water lilies and planting them and submerging in our pond. can this be done anytime of the year, or should i wait till ...

Waterlily Depth of Water  I have a waterlilie in a pot in my pond, but pond is not very deep maybe 20cm. there is a deep spot but the sun doesnt gett there.
i have lots of big ...

once a waterlily has died  should water lilies be cut back in the winter once they have died off or should i just let them die naturally and if so will the debris cause problems ...

Must stems be submerged?  I have a hardy water lily in a 1-gallon container, which is in a pond. The pond reaches the top of the container (barely) and the leaves reach the water,...

The lilly root ball has come to the top of the pond  My pond is about 20ft x 10ft and 4 foot deep. This year the root ball of the lillies (they cover about 90% of the pond surface) has come to the top of ...

Growing Water Lilies From Seed  How do I grow water lilies from seed?

Doug says you can find an article on growing water lilies from seed right here

dead heading water lilies  This is my first year with water lilys. They are blooming well. Should I be dead heading them to promote more flowers and avoid decay of the old bloom ...

Water lilies planted directly on pond bottom  Can I plant my water lilies directly on the pond bottom if I use soil and plant amongst rocks? I live in Qu├ębec so the pond freezes in winter.

Doug ...

Waterlillies for my wedding  I want to have water lillies at my wedding at the end of OCtober. I live in Pennsylvania. Is it possible to grow water lillies at home in buckets or ...

Adding Water lillies to a fresh water pond with natural springs feeding it  We have a neighbor who has water lilies in their pond and she stopped by and asked if we wanted water lilies for our two ponds. Our main concern is that ...

do you need to divide hardy water lilies every spring?  do you need to divide hardy water lilies every spring? and if you do, do you plant each root portion in a new pot? or do you put more than one root portion ...

hardy water plant propagation speed  How long does it take for them to show through the pea gravel?

Doug says you should be able to see the crown of the plant sitting on top of the pea ...

Leaves rotting under the water  I have just planted two water lillies in a new pond ,the top of the baskets are approx 5 inches under water, but the small lily pads that were on the plants ...

Algae on water lily plant  We imported lily seeds from Thailand and grown plants in tub. The were in good condition. Then we transferred them to Pond. 20 days back. Now there ...

Just starting a lillie pond and not sure how to plant  Do I divide the plants out of the pot and place them in the pond? Should I let the pond water sit before placing the lillies in. How many lillies per ...

what variety to purchase  we live in central montana with a large pond on our property and would like to naturalize some water lillies in the pond. any recomendations? varieties?...

Unable to grow water lillies in soft water  I've successfully grown water lillies in hard water - Austin, Texas, but am having very little luck growing them in soft water. I feed them monthly and ...

water lilies as cut flowers  i want to cut the flowers of so i can give them in bunch to some one but not sure what time to pick them eg night morning t avoid drooping also how long ...

The pads are taking up the whole pond but Im not sure what to do!  Hi there
Ive recently moved to a new house with a pond and Im very un-pond savvy. Its a small pond but it is covered with lily pads (and some other things ...

Water lily dying  Despite having cleaned out the pond completely (because previous water lily died) the same thing appears to be happening again. It is as if something is ...

When do I stop fertilizing water lilies?  The days are getting shorter (almost September), the air temperature is cool at night....do I give the water lilies one last feed or stop now? Some of ...

the leaves have holes in them and turning yellow  Is this a problem? Is there something wrong? or is it normal? If not is there a way i can fix it?

Doug says sounds pretty normal to me. The snails ...

not blooming  they aren't blooming when they bud

Doug says that 1) they need lots of sun 2) they prefer still water 3) they really want to be well fed - use fertilizer ...

water lily does not bloom.  the depth of the lily is approx. 12 inches. it receives a conservative 6 hours a day of sun. it has not been fertilized. what advice can you offer so ...

Freezing temperatures in NC  I live in NC. Will the hardy variety withstand the winters?

Doug says no problems at all if you're leaving it in the pond. They survive here in Canada....

Short blooming time on water lilies  why do lillies close in the full sun - why not when the sun sets - why do they bloom for only a few hours?

Doug says if you have hardy water lilies ...

Water lilies cover my pond.  What effect do (proliffic) lilies have on the oxygen levels of wet weather my pond ?.Area is between Between half and one acre, lily coverage aprox 75%...

un-wanted water lillies  How can I eliminate our pond lillies by our dock?

Doug says - dig up roots or keep cutting off leaves as they emerge. Digging is faster - cutting ...

Lilies are have taken over my pond.  How do I get rid of these pesky lilies?

Doug says start digging. :-) I also note that you can cut off the leaves and if you do that regularly you'll ...

How deep to plant a plantlet purchased at a store  I purchased a plantlet at a store. I believe it's a hardy waterlily. I followed all of the guidelines for planting. It has a few shoots and as they are ...





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