Waterlilies or Nymphaeaceae are flowering plants that live as rhizomatous aquatic herbs. This means that waterlilies are rooted in soil under a body of water, while the leaves and flowers float in the water surface. If you have a small pond in your garden, waterlilies are good additions to your collection of ornamental plants. These aquatic plants can give your garden a totally different look and tranquil vibe.
If you don’t where to start, here’s a quick guide on how to plant waterlilies.
Do water lilies need soil to grow?
Waterlilies need to be rooted in the soil to grow. It is important to use the proper soil as it can cause several problems. For waterlilies, a heavy clay loam is the most ideal soil. This soil is used specifically for aquatic plants. It holds water and nutrients without floating in the surface. It also creates a firm anchor for the roots of any aquatic plants.
Types of water lilies
There are several varieties of waterlilies. But they are categorized into 2 types.
Tropical lilies – these lilies only bloom during the evening. It also produces blue petals. And much more ideal for places with warmer temperature. Tropical lilies can’t also tolerate temperature below 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hardy lilies – these lilies only bloom flowers during the day. They can tolerate colder climate than tropical lilies.
How long do water lily flowers last?
The water lilies flowers only last up to 4 days until it submerges and rots underneath the water. But a healthy lily can produce up to 6 flowers a day.
What do you need
- Containers that are shallow but wide. Ideally 6 x 10 inches deep and 12 x 18 inches wide.
- Heavy clay loom soil
- waterlilies tubers that you can buy from your local nursery.
How to plant water lilies?
Plant the waterlilies in the spring – from late April to May. Make sure to plant lilies when the weather is a bit warmer. Even if hardy lilies can tolerate colder temperature, it is important to still avoid planting them when there’s a risk of frost.
1. Prepare your containers. Make sure the containers meet the ideal depth and width. Select a container that doesn’t have a drainage hole but if the containers have drainage holes, use a burlap to cover it to keep the soil in the container.
2. Fill the containers with a heavy clay loom soil. Do not use floppy plotting soil, it won’t be able to hold water and will float out of the container. Only use soil that is specifically for aquatic plants. Add fertilizers to prepare the soil for planting. The amount of fertilizers needed depends on the specific product you are using. Read the instructions properly.
3. Plant the waterlilies tubers in the container. Make sure to place them on the side of the container with the tip pointing upward at 45 degrees angle and to the center of the container. Add more soil and cover the top with small rocks or pea gravel to keep the soil from floating. Make sure to rinse the pea gravel before adding to make sure it’s free from any pest or insects. Don’t add too much gravel around the base of the plants to avoid stressing the new plants and to give enough space for them to grow.
4. Water the plants well and then place the container in a pond or aquatic planter. Make sure the leaves or crown is not submerge in the water and floating instead. If the pond is too deep, put planting ledges or stack bricks under the container to ensure the leaves will float. This will ensure the growth of the lilies.
How to care for waterlilies
1. Lower the container gradually as the lilies grow as well. Make sure the crowns are always partially covered by water.
2. Remove dead leaves and old flowers before they rot. Flowers only last up to 4 days and they should be trimmed when they wither. Leaving dead leaves and old flowers might infect the entire plant and will help keep the water clean in the pond. This will also encourage growth for new flowers.
3. Add slow-release fertilizers every month. To add fertilizers, simply lift the container out of the water and use your hands to insert fertilizer pellets or tablets to the soil. Smooth out the gravel and put back the container into the pond or to your aquatic planter.
4. As the lilies grow, the rhizomes or the root ball, crowd the container. Divide them every couple of years and plant the new tubers in separate containers. If you have a big pond, this will give you more water lilies to admire.