Planting Hardy Water Lily Instructions

Once water lilies are received, they must be planted as soon as possible (especially if the weather is hot and the plant has broken dormancy). If you are not prepared to plant right away the lily can be floated in a large bucket of pond water, but the longer the plants are left out of the water, the more they will go into shock. If the water lily is still dormant, planting may be delayed for weeks before damage to the plant occurs. If the outside temperatures are hot, the plants need to be kept in an air conditioned room. The plant will usually be well established and will have broken dormancy when temperatures are hot. Never place a water plant in direct sun without water. This may kill the water lily in a matter of minutes.

Lily Rhizome

There are two methods of planting water lilies. Our lilies are shipped bare root with most of the leaves removed. It is good for the plant’s health because it is easier for the plant to produce new roots and leaves if it does not waste energy trying to save old leaves that it will ultimately drop anyway. Once planted the lily will recover quickly creating new leaves.

Method 1 - planting the lily in a container. The container should be wide and shallow, a plastic dish pan or kitty litter box will work great for this. This gives the plant plenty of surface area allowing the soil to get oxygen and the plant will not have to be repotted for two years at least. Cover any holes in the container with a layer of newspaper. Add about an inch or two of soil to the bottom of the container. The best top soil to use is river bottom soil that usually has a heavy clay base. We also carry Microbe-lift Aquatic Planting Media that works well. Do not use potting soil. Now you can place the lily rhizome on the layer of dirt with the crown at the top and towards the center of the container. The crown is where the stems and leaves are coming out. Spread the roots out and add more dirt while holding the crown end up. Leave enough room to add a layer of sand of 1/2 - 1 inches without covering the crown. At this point the rhizome will be setting at a 30° angle with the crown above the soil and the soil tamped down. Now you can add water until the water level is at the top of the soil. Add more soil if required once it settles. One to two fertilizer tabs can be pressed into the soil at this time if used. Now add a layer of sand and again add water until it reaches the top of the sand. At this point the sand level should be 1 - 2 inches below the top of the container. If the pond has koi add gravel 1/2 - 2 inches in size on top of the sand to keep the koi from digging in the sand and soil. Leave the crown exposed placing the gravel around but not on top of the crown. Lower the container slowly into the pond at the required depth to keep the soil in the container and not in the pond.

Method 2 - planting the lily in the pond without a container. Koi ponds may require a different strategy when it comes to planting lilies. Koi naturally forage through the substrate for worms, ghost shrimp and other crustaceans. In the summer time their metabolism is at a peak the they will eat non stop. Koi also eat plants. To keep the koi from eating and destroying water lilies and other ornamental plants it is important to provide them with a plant food source that will grow fast enough to meet their voracious appetite. Watercress and water celery both fit this criteria and are also rich in vitamins and minerals koi require for growth and color. The first step is to locate or create a shelf 1 1/2 - 2 feet deep and at least 2 feet wide. Line the shelf outer edges with flat rock 8 - 12 inches wide and 1 - 2 inches tall. This will keep the koi from moving the gravel off the shelf. Add a layer of 1 - 2 inch gravel about 2 inches deep to the shelf leaving a 12 inch diameter clear to plant the lily. Place the lily in the horizontally bare area with the crown facing up while adding pea gravel to cover the roots and rhizome. The rhizome and roots will try to float up while adding the pea gravel so you may have to us a small flat rock to hold the rhizome down while adding the gravel. Once you get enough pea gravel down to hold the rhizome and roots down, gently pull the crown up and add more pea gravel until the rhizome is completely covered with the crown still exposed. Now add a layer of larger gravel to cover the pea gravel completely, taking care to stack the gravel around the crown and not on top of it. There is no need to add fertilizer tab with this method, the koi will take care of that. If the koi are picking at the crown leaves you can install a plastic fence barricade around the lily until the plant becomes established. As soon as several leaves reach the top to form pads the barricade can be removed. This method never requires the plant to be repotted or fertilized. The roots can spread out as far as the leaf canopy and the lily will bloom better.