How to Care for a Hardy Water Lily


Hardy water lilies (Nymphaea spp.) have circular leaves with smooth, rounded edges and waxy surfaces. They bloom in a variety of colors, including shades of white, yellow, pink, red and orange. Hardy water lilies begin blooming early in the springtime, as soon as water temperatures reach a steady 60 degrees F. Unlike tropical water lilies, hardy water lilies can over-winter in ponds throughout a wide range of climatic regions. Hardy water lilies are have shallow roots systems composed of rhizomes, and their lily pads spread rapidly over the pond's surface.

Step 1

Submerge your hardy water lily to a depth of about 12 to 18 inches, so that the leaves and flowers are resting on the water surface. Place the hardy water lily in a spot in your pond that has full sunlight all day.

Step 2

Feed your hardy water lily once every four to six weeks throughout the spring, summer and early autumn with all-purpose aquatic plant fertilizer tablets. Follow the fertilizer instructions on the label and stop fertilizing the hardy water lily in September.

Step 3

Trim off yellowing leaves and old flower blossoms throughout the spring, summer and early autumn.

Step 4

Prune away the dead leaves and stems of the hardy water lily after the first killing frost in late fall or early winter, removing about two-thirds of the plant. Submerge the hardy water lily into the deepest part of your pond for the winter.

Step 5

Divide your hardy water lily plants once every two to three years in spring. Remove the water lilies from the pots, rinse the soil from the rhizomes and cut a 3-inch-long segment of the rhizomes. Repot the divided lilies into fabric pots with fresh garden topsoil.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't overwinter your hardy water lilies in a shallow part of your pond where they won't remain beneath the ice layer. If you have a shallow pond, remove the hardy water lilies from the pond, cover the lilies with damp cloths and seal them in plastic bags. Store the water lilies during the winter in a cool spot.

Things You'll Need

  • Aquatic plant fertilizer tablets
  • Pruning shears or scissors
  • Knife
  • Fabric pots
  • Garden topsoil
  • Damp cloths and plastic bags (optional)


  • SKH: How to Care for Water Lilies
  • The Water Garden: How to Care for Water Lilies & Other Aquatic Plants

Who Can Help

  • Exotic Aquatics: Water Lilies
Keywords: hardy water lilies, water lily care, grow water lilies

About this Author

Sarah Terry brings 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters, and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.