How to grow and care for water lilies: Stunning additions to ponds
ASK many gardeners who have ponds which plant they enjoy most, and they are likely to extol the virtues of the water lily, with its stunning flowers and huge palmate leaves.
What’s more, there are so many types for virtually every size of water feature, from an old wooden barrel to a huge pond. The beautiful flowers bloom from early summer until September, and many of them have a light fragrance. What they all need, though, is sun.
Gemma Neech, formal ornamental team leader at RHS Garden Wisley, offers a guide to these water-loving plants...
CONDITIONS THEY NEED
Water lilies are rhizomatous aquatic perennials that like to grow in relatively still water in full sun, flowering in summer. In the wild, water lilies can be found growing in both tropical and temperate climates.
They have leaves varying in size, from small to gigantic, up to 3m in diameter – these giants (Victoria Amazonica) grow in the tropics and are not hardy in the UK, but they are very impressive.
CHOOSING AND BUYING
If growing water lilies in the
UK, it is best to choose a hardy cultivar from a specialist aquatic supplier, and choose a cultivar suited to the size of your pond or lake, as some are more vigorous than others.
The best time to buy and plant is late winter or early spring, around February or March. As with buying any plant, make sure water lilies have a healthy crown and there are signs of new shoots and leaves emerging.
MAINTENANCE AND CARE