Water lilies are very beautiful and are easy to grow. The easiest way to get water lilies is to buy them from your local garden center. Many garden centers will have a selection of water lilies. The water lilies usually have very few leaves when you see them in the garden center. That is okay. They will grow very quickly once they get planted in your pond. You can also choose to buy water lily bulbs. These can be bought online or in some local shops. The bulbs arrive dry and will start growing soon after you plant them. It is easy to grow water lilies from bulbs. A third option is to buy water lily seeds. This can be a fun way to get new species but it can sometimes be hard to get them to germinate. We are going to talk more about this further down in the article.
Never remove water lilies from the wild to keep in your pond. This might be against the law and we should always try to avoid making any damage, no matter how small, to nature. If you have a friend that offers you to move some from his pond then that might be okay.
Where in the pond to plant water lilies
Water lilies should be placed in a deep section of your pond. Any area that is between 2 and 5 ft deep is usually okay. Any deeper and the water lily might have a hard time getting the light it needs (until the first leaves reach the surface). If you place it in very shallow water then it might choose to produce submerged leaves instead of the floating leaves we want in our ponds.
Water lilies do best in a deep clay-like substrate. It is therefore often best to grow them in clay pots on the bottom of the pond. This allows you to provide them with the substrate they need without having to cover the entire bottom with clay. Something that might cause problems with clouding of the water.
Another benefit of growing water lilies in clay pots is that it makes them easy to move and easy to bring in if you live in a colder area where you have to winter the water lilies indoors.
Wintering water lilies
If you live in an area where your pond never freezes then you do not have to worry about wintering your water lilies. They will do it themselves provided that you chose species that are suitable for your climate. They will simply grow more slowly until the weather gets warmer again.
If you live in an area where the pond will freeze then you might have to bring the water lilies in during the winter. This is often true even if you are keeping species that are native to your area and that are able to survive in local lakes and streams. The reason for this is that your pond is more shallow than the lakes and streams. If you have a pond that is very deep. More than 6 ft. Then your water lilies might be able to survive in the pond without your help. But if you have a more shallow pond. Most garden ponds are no deeper the 2 ft. Then there is a risk that the pond bottom freezes, IE all the water in the pond freezes and this will often kill the water lilies. Always bring your water lilies in over the winter if you live in a cold area and have a shallow pond.
Bring the water lily into your garage or basement. Any cold area that is kept above freezing is a suitable place to keep them. The exact procedure might vary a little depending on what species you want to keep. Do a google search to find out how to winter your species. Never assume that a method you use for other species will work. It might but we should always strive to provide our plants and animals with the best possible care.
Buying a water lily plant
Water lilies are readily available in garden centers, in home depot and other home construction warehouses. You can also find a very large selection online. Prices can vary between different species and depending on where you live. You can usually find an assortment of different water lilies for between USD 10 and 15. The plants are usually a germinated bulb with a few leaves on them. The plant will grow very quick once in your pond. These plants are usually old enough to flower during the first year. I recommend that you buy several different colors of water lilies if your pond is large enough to support it. Reds, pinks, and whites always look very good together. Yellows can also be nice but will not have the same calm effect as a pond without yellow water lilies will have.
Buying a bulb
Bulbs are cheaper then plants and you can find a larger assortment of different species of water lilies if you are willing to grow them from bulbs. You can order bulbs online and get them in the mail. Do not order them during the winter if you live in a cold area. The cold will kill the bulbs.
It is possible to order bulbs through eBay and other sites that are sent from other countries. This might not be legal. There are strict rules you need to adhere to if you want to import plants and animals. This is to protect the national farm industry and to protect that native fauna. Packages containing bulbs and other plants will often get through customs but this does not mean that it is legal. Just that the customs did not spot it. Please make sure to follow laws and regulation if you chose to import plants.
Bulbs will usually germinate very quickly if they are placed in a shallow area of the pond. Always plant the bulbs in a pot when you try to get them started. This makes it easier to move them to deeper water once they have started to grow. The top of the bulb should be left above the substrate. You can often place the bulb on top of the substrate. It will then sprout roots down into the substrate and leaves toward the surface. The first few leaves will usually be submerged leaves that look different than the floating leaves that you associated with water lilies.
High-quality bulbs will usually start growing quickly but you are not guaranteed a 100% survival rate.
Growing from seed
It is possible to buy water lily seeds. The seeds are cheap and you can get a lot of seeds in a single seed pack. There are numerous seed vendors online that sell water lily seed. If you are buying seeds from abroad then you need to adhere to the same laws that I mentioned above in regards to bulbs.
Seeds can sometimes be hard to germinate. The success rate will be a lot lower than it would be if you bought bulbs. The fact that water lilies can be hard to germinate should not prevent you from trying to grow them from seed. It can be very rewarding and you are likely to end up with some plants even if only a small percentage of the seeds germinate. It will usually take 2 -3 years before the water lilies start flowering if you grow them from seeds.