Gardens - Water Gardening

Water lily planting secrets

How to transplant a new beauty safely into your pond

Give most water lilies a daily dose of six hours of full sun and a warm, still pond, and they will reward you with some of the most spectacular blooms of the summer.

Once you’ve selected an infant water lily at the nursery, transplant it from its small plastic container into a larger one. “Roots need to spread,” says Tom Thomson, a horticulturist with Humber Nurseries in Brampton, Ontario. “We recommend at least a half-bushel container, preferably a bushel,” he says. Thomson also advises using specialty aquatic or ordinary garden soil with a high percentage of clay. “The soil is simply an anchor for the plant,” he explains. “Its roots get their nourishment from the water. Just don’t use a peat-based mix—you don’t want anything that floats.”

Hardy water lilies can be overwintered—container and all—in green garbage bags (be sure to remove foliage and tie bags tightly so moisture won’t evaporate) in a cool basement (a temperature of between 1 and 4°C is ideal). Tropical varieties are generally treated as annuals in most Canadian climates because they require a heated greenhouse, or an aquarium or bathtub filled with damp, but not wet, sand kept at 13°C. The planting technique is the same for both types.

Reliable hardy water lilies (Nymphaea cultivars)
By Anne Marie Van Nest
All are hardy to Zone 4, with a spread of 1.5 metres

'Joanne Pring'
Pale pink outer petals, deep pink inner petals; slightly fragrant; new leaves lightly mottled bronzy purple, maturing to green
Water depth (cm): 15 to 30
Light: Full sun

'Laydekeri Fulgens'
Numberous, deep red, cup-shaped blooms; dark green leaves with reddish bronze flecks
Water depth (cm): 15 to 45
Light: Full Sun

'Little Sue'
Small, variable, light yellow-to-peach, mauve-streaked blooms; green leaves speckled maroon-bronze
Water depth (cm): 15 to 45
Light: Full sun to part shade

Large, yellow, cup-shaped blooms; young leaves flecked with purple
Water depth (cm): 20 to 60
Light: Full sun

'Peaches and Cream'
Peachy pink outer petals with cream-yellow inner petals; fragrant; young leaves purple-flecked, maturing to green
Water depth (cm): 25 to 60
Light: Full sun

'Perry's Double White'
Large, double, pure white blooms; new leaves bronze, maturing to glossy dark green
Water depth (cm): 25 to 50
Light: Full sun


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