Hardy Water Lilies Planting & Growing Instructions
Written by: TWL "Dusty Culp"

There are many different colors for hardy water lilies: red, pink, peach, orange, white, yellow or a mixture of some or all the colors. There are also miniatures, medium and large varieties. One must take into consideration the size of the plant when deciding on the hardy water lily of choice. TWL has listed a brief description for each water lily, stating the size, spread and proper water depth.

Hardies are true to their name: once established they can withstand the cold. Just as long as the rhizome (which is the name given to the root) doesn't freeze, the plant will live thru the cold winters as far north as Alaska. If one lives in climate region zones 3-9 and the temperature starts dropping to cooler temperatures the plant will start to go dormant. Water lilies will loose all of its top foliage and form some small dormant leaves well below the waters surface sleeping until spring or until the temperatures start to climb.
Hardy water lilies will usually start to go dormant from the end of July to October. One should not be alarmed when this occurs. It's one of the cycles of life for the hardy water lily.

Hardy water lilies don't fair well in warmer tropical climates. They need to go through the dormant process so they can keep on living. Hardy water lilies will usually stay dormant until spring or when temperatures start to creep into the upper 70's. Water lilies, as a whole, like to have direct sunlight, although some will tolerate shade.

Texas Water Lilies ships using US Postal Service priority mail for a 2-to-3-day delivery service. TWL takes great pride in the growing, picking, packing and shipping process. We grow all of our own plants and pick them fresh daily, keeping the water lilies fresh and cool. Every afternoon we hand deliver the water lilies to the local post office for shipping. We ship the water lilies bare root. Usually we will place the water lilies into a large zip-lock bag and add a little moister for shipping. Then they will be put into a small shipping box, about the size of a shoe box or larger. Newspaper is used around the zip-lock bag for insulation and for cushion.

Once water lilies are received, they must be planted ASAP (especially if the weather is hot and the plant has broken dormancy). If one is not prepared to plant right away, one may float the hardy water lilies in a pond or large bucket, but the longer the plants are left out of the water, the more they will go into shock. If the water lily is still dormant, planting may be delayed for weeks before damage to the plant occurs. If the outside temperatures are hot, the plants need to be kept in an air conditioned room. The plant will usually be well established and will have broken dormancy when temperatures are hot. One should never place a water plant in direct sun without water. This may kill the water lily in a matter of minutes.

One can plant most hardy water lilies in almost any type of container. A strong plastic container is recommended so it will not crack or come apart. One must make sure the container is at least 6 inches tall. Larger varieties need to go into a 2-to-10 gallon container. The smaller water plants can be planted in as small as a 3/4-to-1-gallon container. If the container has holes at the bottom cover the holes with a couple of layers of newspaper before adding the soil. The newspaper will hold the dirt in place for about a month or two. By then the roots will hold the soil in place.

Once ready to plant, get your pot and put in your planting medium. Make sure to have at least 5 inches of dirt in the container. One can use almost any type of top-soil: yard dirt, heavy loam, etc, but the best stuff to use is river bottom dirt that usually has a heavy clay base. That stuff is packed full of nutrients. Don't use potting soil, mulch, peat moss, cow-manure compost or humus. Leave that stuff for yard plants or non-aquatic plants.
Fill the pot all the way up to 1-to-2 inches from the top. Wet the dirt thoroughly with water soaking it. Plant the rhizome on the side of the pot in the horizontal position. Make sure the crown is facing towards the center. The root should be planted down into the dirt enough so that the rhizome is barely covered. If the rhizome is planted any deeper than a couple of inches, the water lily stands a good chance of dying. Adding pea-gravel or flat rocks on top of the dirt may prevent fish from disturbing the dirt once planted.

Then, simply place into desired spot in pond. Again, the larger varieties will grow in 1.5-to-2.5-feet of water; the smaller ones, in 6 inches to 1 foot. This measurement is taken from the top of the soil to the top of the water. The container can be elevated your by using a center block from a local hardware store. They only cost about $1.50 and they are a perfect elevator (they measure 8"x8"x16") It is recommended to wait a week or two before fertilizing. Make sure a slow release pond tab is used, designed for aquatics. The rule of thumb is one tab per gallon container. Fertilize every 3 to 4 weeks. Make sure to push the pill down into the container on the sides as far as your finger will reach. Then, cover the finger hole up after fertilizing. Make the roots find the tab. Don't ever place tabs directly into main rhizome. If you don't fertilize, then the desired results will be displayed while they grow in a container. Do not fertilize when the 
plants are going dormant or are in the dormant state.

More and more people are planting their plants in pockets at the bottom of their pond. Some soil may have to be added into those pockets, before planting. Then cover dirt and plant roots with small rocks. Make sure to have some fish to make some home made fertilizer or you may have to push in fertilizer tabs every month or so. Sometimes large Koi will get a taste for aquatic plants. Once they do, they'll continue to eat the plants. Gold fish usually will never eat the water lilies.

If planting hardy water lilies in an earthen pond, one can plant them in a container or simply plant them directly into the pond. It is recommended planting them directly into the pond. If this is done, there is no need to fertilize, repot or separate in the spring. All one would have to do is "literally watch them grow". Make sure to simply push the rhizome into the muddy mucky bottom of your pond, just enough to hold the plant down, with the top of the rhizome facing up. If they are not anchored properly they will float and go somewhere you may not desire them to be. With some ponds, one may have to use a little shovel or large knife to break the bottom enough to plant. If the earthen pond has no nutrients at all, one may have to add in some fertilizer tabs.

The main way hardies reproduce (and stay true to there name) is by producing eyes. Just like a potato. In the spring when the water lily starts to come out of dormancy, it will usually produce small eyes. Some form into mother plants. One may enhance the reproduction by cutting these eyes off with a sharp knife and planting them in shallow warm water. Once the eyes become large one can transplant them into normal growing conditions.

It is recommended repotting every year. All that entails is waiting until the climate warms up. Once hard freezes stop, its time to repot. Just take the lily out of its pot. One can dump it up side down and wash away all the dirt. One can see the mother plant. If lucky, there may be more than one. Simply cut the rhizome a couple of inches back from the crown, which attaches the leaves. With larger varieties cut them at least 3-to 5-inches. For smaller varieties cut at least 1-to-2 inches. Plant the new mother plant just as if you have received one in the mail.

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