Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

Facts on Water Lilies

White Water Lily
Stanislav_Moroz/iStock/Getty Images

Water lilies (Nymphaea spp.) are some of the world's most beautiful and recognizable plants. From cold-hardy stalwarts to tender tropicals, they may be hardy from U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 12. Elegant water lilies are the glorious floral topping to classic frog-laden lily pads.

Types of Water Lilies

Cold hardiness isn't the only difference between the two main categories of water lilies. Hardy water lily varieties flower and bloom only in the daylight. At night, they gently close. Tropical varieties bloom during any time of the day or night, and blooms stay open until they fade.

Beneath the Surface

Though water lilies look as if they are sprouting from the water, they are actually floating on top of the water, with their roots tethered deep into the water-logged soil at the bottom of the lake or pond. The lily pad beneath the flowers is the leaf of the water lily plant.

Flower Features

Water lily flowers are as different as their origins, though their shapes and petals are similar. Hardy, native water lilies have simpler flowers that retain a watery wildflower-like look and are commonly white and yellow. Tropical varieties often have many more petals and more intense colors than the native lilies.

Fun Fact

Besides being the birth flower for July, the blue lotus (Nymphaea caerulea), hardy in USDA zones 10 through 12, is also the celebrated national flower of Sri Lanka, a country off the southeastern coast of India. It is a source of fragrance for perfumes.

Famous Ties

The water lily is an object used repeatedly in the oil paintings of French Impressionist Claude Monet (1840-1926). Monet is widely believed to be the father of the Impressionist movement. His water lily series includes some of his most masterful works.

Related Articles

What Do Water Lilies Symbolize?
What Do Water Lilies Symbolize?
Water Lily Plant Information
Water Lily Plant Information
Flowers Native to Vietnam
Flowers Native to Vietnam
Common Malaysian Flowers
Common Malaysian Flowers
How Often Should You Water an Asiatic Lily Flower?
How Often Should You Water an Asiatic Lily Flower?
Flowers Native to Thailand
Flowers Native to Thailand
Flowers That Are Four Letters
Flowers That Are Four Letters
South American Flower Names
South American Flower Names
The History of the Lily Flower
The History of the Lily Flower
Pink Tropical Rainforest Flowers
Pink Tropical Rainforest Flowers
What Is the Meaning of the Asiatic Lily?
What Is the Meaning of the Asiatic Lily?
Water Lilies Root Structure
Water Lilies Root Structure
What Do Yellow Tulips Mean?
What Do Yellow Tulips Mean?
The History of the Carnation Flower
The History of the Carnation Flower
How to Care for Celosia
How to Care for Celosia
India Carnation Plant Care
India Carnation Plant Care
Names of Asian Flowers
Names of Asian Flowers
Names of Asian Flowers
Names of Asian Flowers
Garden Guides
×