Water Lilies For Your Pond

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The Most Popular Aquatic Plant For Your Pond

Water Lilies, also known as Nymphaea, are considered the most common or known aquatic plant for ponds. The average person may just think Water Lilies are a beautiful aquatic plant especially during bloom with their vibrancy of color, in reality they play an important role in the ecosystem of the pond. If you live in a hot climate, you will want to have access to water lilies as act like an umbrella for your pond providing your dear fish friends with the shade they want during the blistering hot summer days as well as decrease the amount of sunlight available for algae. Believe it or not, your dear Koi fish can get sunburn and a good way to prevent it is to give them a shaded hiding spot. Another role that the lily pads aide in is protection from predators. If predators can not see the fish, then the fish will not be in danger from any predators lurking near by. Another factor that water lilies play in ponds, is nutrient absorption. As any plant, they require nutrients to grow their leaves, therefore they aide in the nitrogen cycle of the plant creating a perfect ecosystem pond

All About Water Lilies

When purchasing water lilies for your pond you will need to decide which lilies you need for your climate. If you live in a cooler climate then you will be better off with a hardy lily as they will come back year after year compared to your tropical lily. The easiest way to tell a hardy lily from a tropical lily is that the hardy lily will have a smooth lily pad compared to the serrated or jagged edge of the tropical lily which can be seen the in the image below. Another feature that is easily noticeable is the size of the lily pads, the tropical lilies tend to have a much larger lily pad than their former hardy water lilies. Although, hardy and tropical water lilies have sizes ranging from dwarf to large so it is not a telltale sign. Water lilies will grow completely submerged in water, and will grow until their lily pads reach the water surface and will grow typically the size of the area in which they are placed. On the top of their pads they will blossom and flourish a beautiful flower and the color will depend on the variety of lily chosen. Lily’s are a perfect choice for a pond in a sunny location as they require a lot of sun to flourish and in hand provide shade once again for your pond. Both types of lilies have blooms in a range of colors from white, purple, blue, pink, and red for the tropical variety and white, pink, pastel orange, red and yellow for the hardy variety. Tropical lilies will typically blossom more than a hardy lily provided they get more sunlight which is the norm due to be found more in southern areas. The lily pads size can vary from a miniature leaf to a leaf that has a diameter over 10 feet!

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The difference in the smooth hardy lily pad and the serrated tropical lily pad can clearly be seen

Hardy Water Lily

Hardy water lilies can remain in the pond year round as they will die off in the winter as they go dormant in cold conditions but produce new lily pads and flowers in the spring time in the following year. Generally the hardy water lily will flower from May through September depending on the species of the water lily and will be the first to bloom before the tropical lily counterpart. Just because hardy water lilies can tolerate the colder climate doesn’t mean they won’t thrive in a warmer climate, therefore if you prefer the look of a smooth water lily don’t be afraid to pick one out. The smooth lily pad will generally look like it was a waxy covering over the surface of the leaf. This is to protect the lily from water sinking the leaf as it gives it a hydrophobic coating so water will bead off the leaf. 

With colors from red, pastel orange, pink, white and yellow. There are multiple varieties to choose from, even varieties that will change their color throughout the bloom. Once the temperature of the pond reaches 60 degrees, they will slowly start to bloom and start spreading throughout the water surface. Follow the upcoming winter, cold temperatures will slow down and they will need to be pruned to the bulb of the lily. As long as the rhizome, the underground stem, does not freeze the lily will come back the following spring. Unfortunately, the hardy water lily is not a night time blooming lily while the tropical lily can either be a day time or night time lily. 

Tropical Water Lily

Tropical lilies on the other hand will lose their leaves if it gets colder than 55 degrees and they will go back to their bulb state and the lily pot will look empty. you would want to remove the lily pot and move it to a warmer climate if you are looking to save it for the following year. Generally, the tropical variety will blossom later than in the season than a hardy lily but will continuously blossom more. They also tend to have larger leaves and larger blossoms than than the hardy counterpart and tend to hold their blossoms at a higher elevation above the water surface compared to a hardy water lily.  Be sure to have a larger pond if you are thinking of getting a tropical pond, as they will take up a lot of surface area of the pond. The water lily commands the most attention as its blossom are the most vibrant and beautiful as well as being more fragrant. Tropical lilies require the temperature to be above 80 degrees to start blossoming and reaching their full potential. Once they do reach that temperature, they will fill the pond with the most magnificent flowers ever. 

If you have the room for multiple water lilies and live in a warmer climate, consider getting a day time and night time blooming lily. Tropical lilies that are white, pink, and red, even black tend to be night time bloomer and they usually more fragrant then their day time blooming counterpart. Day time bloomers tend to be the most commonly seen in ponds with colors from red,p ink, white, yellow, blue and purple.  Both will blossom open and close for around three to four days per flower. 


Planting and Fertilizing Your Water Lilies

If you are building a brand new pond, and know for sure that you will be adding water lilies to your pond then consider creating a custom hole inside the pond to accept the water lily pot so it sits flush with the shelf of the pond. If you already have a pond built already and want to add a water lily to the pond, then putting the lily inside a container and then placing it into the pond is acceptable as well. Neither of these methods will really hinder the growth of your plant. The size of your lily pot will depend on the size of your pond. The smaller the pot, the smaller the water lily will grow as they will grow to the size of the area they are in. 

Water lilies thrive in a nice heavy topsoil without any manure or compost to prevent any algae growth in the pond. A good way to fertilizer water lilies is to use a slow release fertilizer tab which won’t cause an algae bloom in the pond. Lilies also do not thrive in rough waters, e.g. next to a waterfall or aerator due to getting their leaves wet. The steams should be trimmed, and pruned close to the rhizome and all dead or yellow leaves from the plant must be removed regularly to prevent any leaves from decaying in the pond causing water quality issues.