From light peach to crimson red…traditional yellow to bright white. Hardy water lilies make a pond…well a pond. Without them, your pond might as well be a hole with water in it.
The best part of their appeal? Hardy water lilies require very little care. You can literally plant them in your water garden and forget about them. They will come back year after year and all you have to do is sit back and watch their colorful blooms.
To plant a hardy water lily, simply fill your pot about two thirds full with aquatic planting media or 100 percent ground clay(unscented kitty litter). Then place the rhizome in the pot and fill it the rest of the way with your planting media. The rhizome should be about an inch below the surface. Place the pot at the bottom of the pond. Ideally at a depth of 18 inches to 2 feet. The shallower the pond, the sooner you will see blooms in the spring.
You don’t need to begin fertilizing until summer, because in cooler weather the plant doesn’t absorb the nutrients very well. When the temperatures rise above 70 degrees during the day you can feed the plants with aquatic fertilizer tablets. But if you have fish in your pond, you really don’t need to buy fertilizer. The fish waste is an excellent food source for the lilies.
The best time to divide lilies is in early spring before active growth begins. You’ll know it’s time to divide when the plant appears crowded and the leaves are standing out of the water. Blooms may decrease and the roots grow out of the pot. Dividing is easy. Simply cut the rhizome with a sharp knife and plant the remainder in another container.
When you purchase lilies either on-line or at a pond store, be sure to choose ones that fit your pond. Some lilies will tolerate deeper water better, while others have a shorter spread, perfect for a small pond. Some varieties bloom more profusely than others. Ask questions and know what you’re buying.
Lilies bloom between May and September. Flowers will open in the morning and close at night, lasting about three or four days. Be sure to cut off dead blooms as close to the base of the stem as possible. Also trim the leaves as soon as they begin to yellow. If you leave dead leaves through the winter they will decay and pollute the pond.
When it’s time to close your pond for the winter it’s difficult to watch your lilies go dormant. But even if temperatures dip to 30 degrees below zero, you can count on seeing sprouts right after the first frost in the spring.