Tropical Water Lilies
If you are going to try and plant water lilies with koi take look at this page to keep them from eating your lily. Click Here
I have retired and no longer raise lilies, this page is just for the information.
These are very large plants, large pads, flowering in season, blooms can be 8 inches across or larger and growing in 18" of water, actually you'll be amazed at how big these are when I take them out of the pond to be bagged. They will adapt to water from 6" to 30" over the pot with no problems, even deeper but the plant will become to large to manage. If you have used algae control in your pond don't even think about a water lily until you do a water change, you'll just waste your time and money. They are very sensitive to the algae cure and will probably die before the algae. In a well planted water garden the plants will take over the algae in time and the water will become very clear, even without a pump or filter.
It's great to see them in bloom when picking out your water lily. To get really big they will need to be transplanted into a larger container, but even with 6" pot they will have a spread of 5' to 6' and be easy to manage.
Easy to transplant. I've never lost a tropical water lily while transplanting it or any other time, unless it was eaten by something, they are very strong plants. Actually the starters are just waiting for room to be transplanted and in 6 weeks they will be the large blooming plants, they'll also be $20 to $30 at that time. No guarantee on the color of the blooms on starter plants, most have grown from seed and could be any color, but all will be the large tropical type, maybe even a great hybrid.
Don't forget to ask about the Aquasafe water lily fertilizer while you're here. Fish safe and makes a big differance in the performance of your water lilies, both growth and blooming. Free sample with the purchase of any water lily.
Tropical water lilies are heavy bloomers during the summer season, which here in zone 10 is from mid March til mid Nov. It's not unusual to see 3 or 4 blooms at one time if given the room. Stop by from time to time to see what's in bloom. These are ready to transplant or can be left in the container they come in, dropped right into your pond and will continue to have blooms all season. Jump to advice on potting these up for your garden here Potting Water Lilies then click top to return. The lily pond is full of tadpoles and the singing goes on every night with the frogs and toads, takes you away from all the daily stress.
Tropicals will fill in as much area as you give them, they can get incredibly large with enough room.
Pads can reach nearly 2' across with a plant spread of up to 15'.
Blooms are fragrant and can be over 8" wide, you'll never see this with a hardy lily. You may want to plant them by the edge of your water garden so you won't have to get into the water to keep them trimmed, their pads will extend away from the side, but the flowers will be above the rooted plant. Tropical lilies will probably not survive the winters in areas that have a long freeze unless you dig them up every year and store them, on the other hand I have also noticed that the hardies only last a couple years here in zone 10 and stop blooming and fade away, I suspect they need the dormant season to do well, I guess you could dig'em up and shove'em in the fridge for a couple months, yea right.. I have a growing number of friends that just order new starter tropical lilies each spring rather than over wintering them. I have found that the tropical will stay smaller and still perform well if kept in a very small pot, but of coarse the pads and blooms will also be smaller. This can work out well in a smaller pond, I would suggest starting with the smaller starter plants for this. There is a picture of a tropical in a small pot with just rock instead of dirt at the bottom of this page.
Potting Water Lilies
When you receive large tropical water liles from us they are potted with a compost, clay, bark and fertilizer mix and actually are ready to go into your pond. If it is just a water garden (no koi) and you want it to get huge just repot to a larger container and use a compost mixture, any container 3 gallons or larger and you'll end up with a monster. They don't need a lot of soil depth so use a container 6" deep, but wide, bottom holes are not necessary. A DIY oil change pan from the car parts store is excellent, large, inexpensive and strong. Always repot the lily at the same depth it was growing at in the container. It doesn't matter about the water depth you intend to put them in, they will make adjustments at an incredible rate, if you go deeper they will be back up to the water surface in 1 day.
Koi eat all water plants. If you are going to try plants with fish, especially koi, I recommend that you remove all of the dirt and plant them in gravel, no make that rocks, just rinse the roots off with the hose. No reason to use fancy rock, they will be hid under the pads anyway. Lava rock is to light and the fish will throw even large ones around. Just make sure the rocks you use are not contaminated with anything and large enough the fish can't throw them around. I just buy a new plain clay pots with a large outside rim to hook the hanger on, if you are going to sit the pot on the bottom or a ledge the container doesn't matter. Start by filling the pot an inch or so on the bottom with your rock and place the plant in and let the roots spread out, continue filling the pot while holding the plant at the desired position. I just use the hangers that they sell for orchid pots, very inexpensive or you could drill holes in the pots for wire hangers or even buy orchid pots, but they are expensive.
Here are a couple pictures of the ones being potted up that I'm going to put in with the wakin. I just had the lava rock, use any clean fairly large rocks or the fish will throw them out of the pot. You will never get the growth with rocks as you would with compost mix, but the fish won't dig out the dirt and make a mess. The lily will adapt to the rock media very fast, this works best in a well seasoned pond and will actually help keep your water clean. I'll be hooking these to a cross bar in this narrow pond so I used orchid pot hangers. As these grow out in the next couple weeks I'll post pictures here. Larger pots and deeper water = larger plants and larger flowers. The ones in my dirt bottom lily pond are at 30" deep and in 6" of compost spread across the whole bottom.
This water lily is planted with just rocks, it's been at this location for some time and is doing very good and has blooms from time to time although it doesn't receive a lot of sun. It's within about a foot of the surface in a rather small quart or so pot and hung over the side with an orchid hanger, this is a tropical that would get huge in a larger container, but works out great in this small pond in a small pot, it actually covers the full width of the pond, a little over a 3' spread. Wish my fish would be so friendly to my plants. I built this pond or should I say converted from a dirt planter a few years back, it's almost bullet proof, full concrete with a rubber liner and external large filter. Sits through a patio slab just outside the back door and is raised about 20 inches above the ground with a total depth of 36". These fish are so tame they would crawl right out of there if they think you have some food with you. Goldfish, walkin and butterfly koi, I don't think they even notice that they are all different and get along fine.
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