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Great Water Garden Plant - Water Lily

Water Lily, Nymphaea, 'Albidia'


Water lilies make great plants for water gardens.
Water Lily

Water Lily

Photograph © Kerry Michaels
Water lilies are great water garden plants. You don't need a big pond to grow water lilies. They can grow and be gorgeous in a big container, either on their own, or planted with other water garden plants. Water lilies love sun, so you will need at least four to six hours of sun a day. Water lilies will grow in almost any zone and some are even hardy in the coldest. There are two types of water lilies, tropical and hardy, and as you might guess, the hardy are easier to grow. To make a water lily container garden, you'll need:
  • A large container that will hold water. At least 36 by 18 inches is a good size to start with, but the sky is the limit.
  • A smaller container also without a hole. This will be the pot that will hold soil and your water lily. Black plastic or fabric pots designed specifically for water gardens work well, and will become almost invisible once submerged. A 10 by 6 inch pot will work well.
  • Heavy soil . You'll need enough heavy garden soil to fill your smaller pot or pots. You can use garden loam or you can also buy a specially formulated, pre-mixed aquatic plant soil. Do not use regular potting soil.
  • Aquatic fertilizer - You'll need two kinds of aquatic fertilizer, granular or pellets, to mix in with your soil, and a liquid aquatic plant food to use weekly or every other week.
  • Pea or aquarium gravel for top dressing your small container. This will help keep the soil in your pot.
  • Water lily rhizome Water lilies come in a huge array of sizes and colors, from white, to orange, purple and shocking pink. They also come in wide, medium or small spreading varieties. While you can grow wide spreading varieties, the degree of difficulty increases.

Some small spreading water lilies:

To plant your water lily, you want to fill your small pot about 3/4 full of heavy soil. Wet it and tamp it down firmly. Lay your water lily tuber at a 45° angle with the growing tip towards the center of the pot and placed so it will be above the top of your soil when the pot is full.

Next fill your pot with soil, and then lay about an inch of pea gravel on top of the soil, making sure to keep the water lily growing tip free from soil or gravel.

Water your small pot well and slowly submerge it in the larger container, filled with water. For the first few weeks, the tip of the water lily should be submerged a few inches. After that the ideal growing depth is 12-18 inches.

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