If you have a water garden, adding aquatic plants like hardy water lilies is a great way to enhance the beauty of your outdoor space. Available in pink, white, yellow, and red, water lilies bloom all summer long and, with proper care, can last through the winter. They also have several functional benefits, providing shade and protection for fish as well as natural filtration to improve water clarity. In this guide, we’ll cover how to plant water lilies and care for them year-round. Keep scrolling or click on a topic below to jump to the section you want to read:
If you’re new to gardening, don’t worry. Growing water lilies is a simple process, and you only need a few things to start:
- Water Lily Pond Kit: Perfect if you’re learning how to grow water lilies for the first time, our kits contain everything you need except the water lily itself. Each one includes the following supplies:
- Hardy Water Lilies: Choose from four beautiful colors. Lilies are shipped bare root to promote the best growth.
- Clay-Based Material: This will be used as a foundation for your fertilizer in the pot.
- Gravel or Pebbles (Optional): These can be used to top your soil and help conceal the pot in your pond.
As you assess what you need, ensure you order your supplies along with or ahead of the water lily itself so you can plant right away once it arrives. Also note your area’s hardiness zone to make sure water lily can thrive in your climate. Our hardy water lilies grow best in zones 4-11.
Once your have all your supplies and your water lily arrives, follow these steps:
- Create a Base: Add a layer with two inches of your clay material followed by two inches of a clay/soil mix to the bottom of your pot to serve as a foundation.
- Add Planting Soil: Top that layer with three or four inches of the aquatic plant soil.
- Plant the Water Lily: Add the water lily in the layer of aquatic plant soil. The tuber should be planted horizontally within this layer, with the root end close to the wall of the pot and the growing tip pointed upward and exposed just above the soil.
- Cover the Soil: If you want, you might choose to cover the soil with a layer of gravel or pebbles. If you choose a dark color, they can help make the planter less visible once it’s in the water.
- Put it in the Pond: Submerge the entire pot in your pond, leaving between three and six inches of water above the growing tip of the stem.
- Fertilize: Every two to four weeks, insert one or two fertilizer tablets into the planting soil layer of your pot.
- Relocate the Pot: Once the leaves grow enough to reach the surface of the water, move the pot to a deeper area of your pond.
Water lilies require minimal maintenance, but there are a few things to do in each season to keep them healthy:
Spring Water Lily Care
As spring rolls around, keep track of how large your water lilies have grown. They typically need to be divided every two or three years, and you’ll know it’s time if you’re seeing fewer blooms or the pot is starting to split apart. When that time comes, follow these steps to properly divide them:
- Take your pot out of the pond and carefully remove the tuber.
- Rinse off any soil and trim root growth and dead leaves.
- Locate the buds where new blooms will grow and cut between them. Each should be three to four inches long.
- Follow the steps above to plant each water lily in a new pot and place them back into your pond.
Summer Water Lily Care
To promote healthy growth and beautiful blooms, continue to add one or two fertilizer tablets to the soil layer of your water lily pot every two to four weeks.
Winter Water Lily Care
How you handle the winter months will depend on the typical climate where you live. If your area doesn’t experience ice or frost, continue your summer routine by fertilizing periodically. If you do experience ice and frost, follow these steps to prepare your water lily for the winter season:
- Following the first frost, remove any foliage from the plant.
- Place the pot in the deepest part of your pond.
- The plant will become dormant until spring.
Now you know how to plant water lilies in your pond and care for them all year round! We hope these tips help you take your outdoor space to the next level. If you have any questions about our water lilies, water lily kits, or any of our recommendations above, reach out to our team of pond experts and we’ll be happy to help!
- U.S. Department of Agriculture. “USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map” https://www.usda.gov/. 5 August 2022.