How To Grow Water Lilies

If you are into landscaping your garden, one of the best ways to set off the overall look of your gardening is the addition of water features. It can give your garden and home a dreamy look and appear magical with lily plant flowers.

Besides the new look, adding some hardy lilies to your small pond can help add to your pond’s health and for your fish. Water remains crystal clear, and the shade they offer helps to keep water temperatures cool.

Many new gardening for beginner’s overlooks is that you can plant hardy water lilies in a large pot or containers on a patio. You can still obtain their beauty without the need for a new pond.

Here, you can learn all you need to know about growing water lilies or suitable types for your region. (Read How to Make a Self Watering Planter)

Growing Water Lilies

Are Water Lilies Easy to Grow?

No matter if you are using a pond or that large container on your patio. You will see water lilies thrive.

Water lilies grow from tubers that are planted in pots; you sit beneath the water. They send up stems that have rounded leaves with star-shaped blossoms. It is these you see floating on the water’s surface as the lily plant.

Your aquatic plant will be various colors such as pink, white, yellow, and red during a bloom.

Pond water lilies are an excellent option for beginners, as hardy water lilies need little care, are highly dependable, and are very easy to plant.

You will see blossoms in the morning, and after sunset, they close. This occurs for three to four days before the water lily sinks under the surface. (Read Growing Water Plants)

From spring to fall, you can see flowers on your aquatic plants, and over the winter, they go dormant. It is possible to winterize them in water, or you can remove them to store them in your shed or garage.

Tropical water lilies are more exotic looking in bloom, although they require more care. Many growers think they are worth the additional effort. (Read When Is The Best Time To Trim Lilacs Bushes)

Flowers are more extensive, with some night-blooming varieties offering vibrant, almost electric colors.

Tropical water lilies require a water temperature over 70°F, and you will need to remove tubers from water in winter.

How Long Do Water Lilies Take to Grow?

When growing water plants, you can find many varieties to suit all conditions around your home. You can plant water lilies in new pots and pools, as we have seen.

Here’s a bit more information on tending to your lilies.


For full flowers, lilies need full sun. Keep the water calm, still, and away from pumps, waterfalls, or fountains.

Varieties of water lilies (Nymphaea):

  • Dwarf and small waterlilies – water needs to be 12 to 18” deep
  • Medium waterlilies – water needs to be 18 -30 inches deep
  • Large water lilies – water needs to be 2.5 to 4 feet deep

Tips on Planting Water Lilies

Planting Waterlilies

Best planted from mid to late spring up to mid-summer. You will need to cut back any long roots and leaves that are damaged. Energies will be put into new flowers and not old parts of the plant.

You need to plant under the surface in around 4 to 10 inches of water before submerging it to the full depth, depending on the type.

The amount of time it takes for your plants to reach full height will be around 5 – 6 months.

Do You Need Soil to Grow Water Lilies?

You don’t have to use regular soil when planting lily pads, and depending on the size of your container or depth of the pond, you can place the roots of your plants by rocks and anchor them in place.

If you have deeper water, you can fill pots with aquatic soil and cover your soil with a layer of gravel to hold it in place.

How Do You Grow Water Lilies at Home?

Here’s all you need to grow and care for water lilies in a step-by-step process. First, you should know the difference and terms of use between hardy and tropical plant care for your water garden.

Here are the two types of water lily.

Hardy – Hardy water lilies are best in northern climates. Water will freeze in winter. Make sure the roots of hardy specimens are under the water surface where water freezes. Plants will come back in the following spring.

Tropical – Tropical water lilies can’t survive in cold water. You do need to bring them indoors over the winter. Remove from your pond, clean them, and store them in a bucket of moist sand before the first frost.

How to Plant Water Lily

Select Your Container

Use wide and shallow containers that are at least 18-inch-wide by 10 inches deep. The tuber grows horizontally. You can utilize a container that has or doesn’t have drainage holes. If you have drainage, line your container with a burlap to prevent the soil from escaping from the holes.

Fill Containers with Soil

Use aquatic soils or soil intended for gardening and to a depth of about 3 inches. Potting soil is too light and will float.

Also, be sure not to use any peat or perlite/vermiculite mix for the same reason. You can fertilize the soil using aquatic fertilizer made for such a task. Press these into the soil. (Read What Are the Best Types Of Soil For Gardening)

Clean Your Plants

Before planting water lilies, inspect the tubers. Remove any old leaves and any thick and fleshy roots. Doing this means the plant’s energy goes toward growing new roots, leaves, stems, and blooms.

Plant Your Tubers

  1. Position the tuber at the side of the pot. Point the growing tip upward at about a 45-degree angle and toward pots center of the pot.
  2. Add Your Gravel
  3. You can now cover the soil with a good pea gravel layer to help keep the soil inside the pot.
  4. Position water lily Plants in the Water
  5. Lastly, you can lower your pots into the water at angles so any air can escape. Position your pot at around 12 to 18 inches deep, and the leaves will start to float to the surface. If your pond is over 18 inches and has no built-in planting ledges, support rocks to maintain that depth.

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How To Grow Water Lilies

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