The water lily is known as the crown jewel of the pond with is broad leaves, called pads and beautiful flowers, some clustered as in the hardy variety and some very fragrant and growing high above the water surface as in the tropical kind.
Water lilies are becoming so scarce in some parts of the world because the wetlands are vanishing. Wetlands lend themselves to not only the lily but to a host of other plants, not to mention wildlife such as beavers and ducks. Whatever we can do to provide wetland areas such as small garden ponds will help many species to survive and thrive for future generations.
The famed artist, Claude Monet, painted water lilies back in the 1890's after construction of his water garden in 1893, waiting until his garden grew to capture the beautiful "Water lilies, night effect".Hardy Lilies
The hardy lily shown is a perennial, and you will find it in white, yellow or red and in variations of these colors like peach or pink.
A water lily will do best in zones 3-11 and with at lease 4 to 6 hours of direct sun light each day. The lily thrives on sunlight because it gets most of its nutrients from the sun and will flower profusely. Other varieties can tolerate the shade and will flower with only 3 to 4 hours of sunlight each day.
Hardy lilies should be planted in pots made of fabric specifically designed for the pond. Use heavy clay loam or soil that is designed for aquatic plants, to use anything less will cause a lot of problems. A wide pot is necessary (14-16 inch is best). Plant the rhizome on the edge of the container at a 45 degree angle, exposing the crown. Pea gravel can be used to top the pot, then lower the pot to a depth of 6 inches to start.
Once the plant grows, you can lower the pot to a depth of 12-18 inches. Plant these lilies in early spring, fertilize every 4-6 weeks , and they will bloom from June to September, weather permitting.
The hardy water lily will go dormant during winter but will spring back to life with new growth once the weather warms again. Divide your lilies every 2 to 3 years depending on the pot size that you originally chose. Average size lilies should be planted in 5-7 gallon pots, wide and shallow. To divide, remove soil from the base to expose the rhizomes, selecting the best looking piece, cut to about 3 inches long. Remove damaged foliage and excess roots. Prepare the pot as though you are planting the original lily and plant in the same manner at a 45 degree angle.Tropical Lilies
The tropical water lily is the only lily that comes in the color blue and the pads are much larger than the hardy lilies. The tropical lily flower sets above the water surface, and the hardy sets upon the water surface. Tropical water lilies can be day or night blooming plants.
These plants have fragrant blooms that sets high above the water surface and are very free flowering that need 6 hours of sunlight each day to grow and bloom their best.
Tropical lilies are not frost tolerant, therefore wintering only as far North as zone 8 these lilies like the temperature to be at least 70 degrees. Tropical water lilies come in shades of yellow, red, pink, white, blue and purple.
The plants should be placed in pots of at least 10" diameter and like shallower water. Place tropical lilies into the water to at least 6" to 12" over the tops of the pot. Tropical lilies, If planted in smaller pots the lilies will be smaller.
The night lilies are tropical and come in pink and fuchsia colors, blooming in mid summer, from July to October. These lilies are fragrant but require a lot of moisture, therefore perfect for garden ponds.