Lily themed week shows some more waterlilies and tips for a happy pond.
Tips for Growing Water Lilies
- Different lilies enjoy different depths from 6″ – 48″
- The native nymphaea alba is too thuggish for all but the largest ponds.
- Avoid shade, Water Lilies need sunshine.
- Water Lilies like still water and do not go well with fountains.
- Plant new lilies from April- September.
- Aim for a minimum two thirds water to one third water lily to get the best reflections.
- Planting too deep is the most common reason for failure to flower.
- When using a tub sprinkle charcoal at the bottom to prevent stagnation.
- Poor flowering and too many leaves indicates the water lily has out grown the planting pot. Lift and divide in april-may at least every 5 years.
- Feed pots twice a year with special tablets that are pushed down to the base of the basket.
- Deadheading encourages more flowers.’
- Patio Jor, Pygmaea Rubra or Pygmaea Helvola need only 6″ above the crowns and can be grown in deep buckets or tubs. Read about Dwarf water lilies
‘Water Lilies and How to Grow Them’ £12.99 from amazon
A National Collection of Hardy Lilies is held at Burnby Hall Garden in Pocklington Yorkshire. They are at their best from June and have a great display through summer. For the home pond the selection of the right water lilies needs great care. They are generally robust plants that are diverse in size and you don’t want too much leaf growth that over shadows the rest of the pond and planting.
Tips on Choosing and Growing Water Lilies
- Young plants should gradually be introduced to deeper water. Mature plants can cope with much deeper water
- The rhisomes of the water lily should not be buried in the planting medium or it will rot. It is a bit like Iris rhisomes that are just proud of the soil with hair roots going down.
- Treat yourself to one or few specimen plants to start with to benefit from the spectacular nature of the plant and leave at least a third of the water surface visible.
- Plants can be grown in big buckets if there is no pond available
- Divide congested plants and plant in fertile soil with trace elements and cover with gravel
- For planting 2 foot deep try Nymphaea Black Princess, a dark prolific red, or the double white ‘Gonnere’ and ‘Perry’s Dwarf Red which is suitable for small ponds.
- For scented flowers look for the Nymphaea Odorata varieties
- There is a wide choice of plants that can be planted 2 ½ – 3′ deep including ‘Virginalis’ & ‘Gladstoneana’ – a couple I haven’t grown but might like to try if I ever get a large enough lake.
- Waterlilies will not flower well and gradually die off in shaded pools and are best sited away from fountains or running water
Visiting Water Lilies
It is not always possible to grow all the plants you would wish too. Therefore it is worth visiting those who specialise in the plants you want to see in good fettle.
Monet’s flower garden at Giverny is internationally famous as the inspiration for his water lily paintings.
Stapeley Water Garden is a good location for seeing and acquiring plants but the best I have seen are at Burnby Hall Yorkshire.
I do not know a lot about Water Lilies but I know a man who did.
Major Percy Stewart carved out the two lakes at Burnby Hall Gardens to provide private trout fishing for himself and his friends. In the 1950’s he planted a small collection of water lilies to beautify his trout lakes. Now this garden is home to a National Collection of Hardy Water Lilies. If you visit you will see why it is the biggest collection, of over 80 varieties, to be found in a natural setting in Europe.
Tips for Growing Hardy Water Lilies
- Water lilies normally require several hours of full sun each day to flower properly,
- Avoid heavy shading over the pond
- Most varieties tend to do best in undisturbed water, so they should be planted away from fountains and waterfalls.
- Plant out between late spring and summer so that they can establish themselves before winter.
New Water Lilies
- The plants should be prepared by pruning any long roots and removing overly long stems or old foliage to encourage new growth.
- Pot up in suitably sized plastic mesh pond baskets. Initially they need to be supported so that they are no more than 6 inches below the surface
- Gradually lower as they grow until the container can finally rest on the bottom of the pond.
Care and Maintenance
- Blooms are short lived, lasting only three or four days
- Rapid leaf or pad growth will happen in good conditions. This helps control algae.
- Split large clumps to propagate new plants
- Feed with special tablets of fertilizer and deadhead after flowering.
Pond wizard is a treatment that will help control algea and increase water lily flowers – available from Thompson Morgan