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How to Divide Water Lilies

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How to Divide Water Lilies

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The best time to divide water lilies is in early spring once the pond has thawed and the lilies are beginning to sport new growth. Some pre-emptive gardeners choose to divide their water lilies every year. However, water lilies only need to be divided when their production of leaves and pads drops considerably. This is a sign that their roots have become too large to effectively absorb nutrients from their container.

Step 1

Remove the water lily from its container.

Step 2

Use a hose to wash off all the soil from its roots.

Step 3

Select the rhizomes that have the most new root growth (located near the top of the rhizome) and cut them away from the larger mass with a sharp, sterilized knife.

Step 4

Trim away all of the old and new root growth, one-third of the rhizomes' length from the bottom, and any damaged foliage.

Step 5

Fill the container three-quarters full with aquatic planting soil and 10 grams of 10-20-10 fertilizer for every gallon of soil.

Step 6

Plant each divided tuber into its own plant so that it is growing at roughly the same height that it was in its original container.

Step 7

Cover the top of the soil with a 1-inch layer of pea gravel.

Step 8

Submerge newly divided water lilies in roughly 1 foot of water until you see new leaf growth. Once they have sprouted a few leaves, they can be moved to a deeper, more permanent home.

Things You'll Need

  • Pea gravel
  • 10-20-10 fertilizer
  • Knife
  • Aquatic potting soil


  • MacArthur Water Gardens: Dividing Water Lilies
  • Water Garden: How to Care for Water Lilies
Keywords: divide water lilies, plant water lilies, trim water lilies

About this Author

Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.