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Water Lilies for Shade

By Ma Wen Jie ; Updated September 21, 2017

Water lilies grow from tubers in soil at the bottom of a pond or a pot. Although many water lilies require full sun, many are tolerant of shade. Even though many are shade tolerant, most will do better with a bit of morning sun. The type of lily you choose will depend on your color preference and the size of your water garden.

Blue Beauty

The Blue Beauty is a shade-tolerant tropical water lily that produces fragrant, deep blue flowers between 8 and 10 inches in diameter. Its leaves are around 14 inches long and can spread from 4 to 7 feet in diameter. Although it is shade tolerant, the Blue Beauty will do better with 4 to 6 hours of morning sun.

Blue Dauben

The Blue Dauben is a small water lily sometimes referred to as a pygmy water lily. The Blue Dauben does better with 3 to 4 hours of morning sun, but is very tolerant of shade. It is ideal for small ponds or tub gardens with a spread of 3-5 feet.


The Tina water lily is a shade-tolerant tropical water lily that, due to its 3- to 5- foot spread, is good for smaller tubs or ponds. Its 4- to 6-inch blossoms are fragrant and deep purple. Its leaves grow to around 10 inches long.


The Comanche water lily is a hardy, shade-tolerant water lily that produces 5- to 6-inch yellow flowers that change color over time. Although they start out yellow, they turn golden and then to orange after a few days. Their 12-inch leaves have a 4- to 5-foot spread.


The Froebeli water lily is shade-tolerant and produces 6- to 7-inch pink to red flowers that look similar to peony flowers. Inner petals on this water lily are darker than the pink outer petals. The 5-foot spread of this lily makes it suitable for small pond or pan cultivation.


About the Author


Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.