Water lilies are aquatic plants with bright, colorful blossoms and large round leaves. They are grown for their fragrance and beauty, their flowers appearing from June to September. Flowers open in the morning and close each night. They grow under water from rhizomes, which look much like flower bulbs. Lilies are classified as a floating-leaved aquatic perennial herb. They prefer quiet waters such as ponds, lake margins, and slow streams, and are well-adapted for container gardens
For home ponds or container gardens, water lilies grow well in ordinary garden soil. They like heavy clay soil, just like you'd find in a pond or lake bottom. Do not use artificial soil or potting mixes because they're too light to hold down the growing plant. Think "mud" when you think about growing water lilies. They take in nutrients through their fleshy stems rather than root fibers in the dirt.
Water lilies like a lot of sunshine, six hours per day minimum. Flowers bloom in late morning when the plant has gotten some sun. Blooming times vary with sun and heat conditions. They like calm water with no splashing near them. Water splashing onto their leaves causes bacteria to grow, which may smother the plant. Water lily colonies in lakes tend to grow in quiet spots or very lightly flowing streams.
Water lilies are very well-suited to container gardening or ponds. They grow fast and vigorously, so don't crowd them in small containers. Minimum container size is 15 inches diameter and 10 inches deep. Tropical lilies do best in a 20-inch or larger container. A strong plastic container or half-barrel type work well. To create a pond, check your local garden center for the many varieties of ready-made shapes and sizes.
How to Plant
Fill the container 2/3 full with heavy clay-like garden soil. Thoroughly wet the soil before you use it. Find the "eye" on the water lily rhizome, which is the growing point where a stem will emerge. Place the rhizome eye facing up and in the middle of the container. This enables the roots to spread in all directions. Don't bury the rhizome, just press it firmly into the soil. Gently add water to 1 inch from the top of the container.
There are two types of water lilies, hardy and tropical. Hardy lilies are tough and easy to grow. The tropical lilies come in a wider variety of colors and require more attention. Some popular tropical plants are Augustus Koch and Blue Capensis. Popular hardy lilies include Madame Wilfron, and Colorado. Bigger varieties grow in deeper water. Miniature varieties can grow in water 1 foot deep. They will adapt fairly well to changes in water depth