General information for planting and growing Water Lily Rhizomes
Receipt of Shipment: If possible, plant the lily rhizomes on arrival or soon thereafter. If the rhizomes are to be stored for up to 1 week, they can be kept in the original box at a temperature of about 40ºF/5ºC. To store for a longer time, the rhizomes should be unpacked and covered with damp peat moss. Alternatively, the rhizomes can be floated in water in the shade.
Pots: The larger the pot - the higher the quality of the plant produced and the final customer can simply place the pot in his pond without needing to transplant the lily. However, commercial considerations and transport costs may dictate a smaller pot. The pot size should be at least 8"/20 cm in diameter by 6.5"/16 cm deep. It is not necessary to plant water lilies in a specialty mesh 'water lily pot'. Standard black plastic nursery pots, either 2 gallon shorts or 3 gallon tubs, are perfectly suitable for water lilies.
Soil, water and fertilization: Use commercially available aquatic soil or a heavy soil with a high percentage of clay. Fertilization depends on the kind of soil and water used. Use slow release aquatic plant fertilizers, taking into consideration your own special growing conditions.
Planting: Elongated rhizomes (Odorata and Tuberosa types) should generally be planted at a 40 degree angle from the horizontal. Marliac type rhizomes should be planted at about 70 degrees (almost vertically), while “Pineapple” types should be planted vertically. The crown should always be just above the soil surface. A layer of gravel on top of the soil following planting can prevent the soil from floating. The pot can be placed in the tank or pond before the water is filled up very slowly - so that the soil has a chance to settle down. Alternatively, you can completely wet the soil after the planting and then slowly lower it into the filled tank.
Water Level: The leaf stems of lilies adjust themselves to the water level. If the level is too low, the leaf stems will be short, thick and stiff. If it is too high, the stems will grow too long and the leaves of adjoining lilies can get entangled. We recommend starting with a low water level - about 4”/10 cm above the soil surface. This will induce quicker leaf development. The level can be raised gradually over the weeks depending on leaf growth until you reach a level compatible with the stem length you require for your needs.
Water Circulation: Water lilies will grow in standing water. A slow circulation or partial replacement of water can improve growth conditions, especially in summer. Avoid rapid circulation and splashing caused by waterfalls or fountains.
Water Temperature: We recommend placing the potted water lilies in a sunny cold-frame or heated greenhouse after planting. A water temperature of about 77ºF/25ºC, is optimal for the rapid growth of newly planted lilies, but this may not be desirable in the early spring months. A daytime greenhouse temperature of 70ºF/21ºC will generally produce a fully developed water lily in 6 - 8 weeks. By controlling water temperature, you can delay or accelerate growth, but this is not usually necessary and you can allow nature to do this. However, rhizomes received after 1st June should be in water at 77ºF/25ºC, or warmer.
Algae: Algae usually doesn't form in ponds or tanks with lots of developed water lilies since the lily pads prevent light from penetrating the water. It's common to notice an algae bloom in spring before the water lilies and other pond plants have begun to grow.