Proper planting of water lilies for maximum blooms 

2 min read

We’ve all seen water lilies in ponds, parks and gardens displaying dozens of majestic blooms at all times throughout the summer months.

In fact, this flower display is easily achievable in our own garden ponds by just following a few simple steps. By following these rules, you will also create the perfect growing conditions in which they will thrive.

The most beautiful species belong to the Nymphaea and Nuphar genera , but a few other genera offer some advantages (hardiness, phytoremediation, etc.).

Do not cover your baskets with stones or gravel

This is a problem observed several times. Water lilies are covered with a layer of pebbles with gravel up to 5-8 cm in diameter or large in size. These too large pebbles seriously hinder the growth of water lilies. The plants must then fight a real fight to grow.

Only use modest sized water gravel. This discourages Koi carp from disturbing the plants. The small aquatic gravel also has a decorative finishing function. Put only a layer of only 1 cm maximum of aquatic gravel of 4-6 mm in diameter.

Pay attention to the planting depth

Don’t Plant Your Water Lilies Too Deep

Another mistake often made is to lower and position their planted lily pad containers far too deep under water. For example, if a water depth is recommended at 30 to 90 cm, the depth is the distance between the top of the basket and the surface of the water.

However, if you are planting in a pond with a natural bottom, the depth is calculated from the substrate to the water surface.

All of this considered, water lilies will always grow faster and bloom more in water that is not too deep. Shallow water is warmer and brighter, so a water depth of 30-40cm will give much better results.

Don’t let your water lilies fill the pots

This is not a problem when planting directly into the natural substrate, but in baskets the spread of growth runners will become restricted. A telltale sign of pot-shackled water lilies is when the basket becomes warped or the water lilies have stopped blooming altogether.

  • Water lilies do not like their rhizomes to be trapped or restricted.
  • Always divide and repot your water lilies every few years or even plant them in larger containers.

A handy tip is to plant the water lily rhizome in the corner of the water basket with the growing tip growing inward, as this allows the water lily to grow and spread.

Fertilizer to feed your water lilies

In a natural pond, water lilies grow in nutrient-rich black silt. It is composed of aquatic foliage, fish and waterfowl waste, and dead pond life. Thus, the slow decomposition of these elements nourishes the substrate.

However, in a man-made pond, there is often a lack of sufficient nutrients to support healthy growth of water lilies. If you have a lot of fish in the pond, your water lilies will be fed on fish waste.

  • If you don’t have fish, feed your water lilies water plant food .
  • Use granular fertilizers suitable for the aquatic environment.

A burlap or fabric liner

Always line your water baskets with burlap or fabric liners

Flowering stops if 60 to 90% of the rhizome and roots are exposed to water directly. The main reason is the disappearance of the aquatic floor due to the movement of water.

Water always moves one way or another and even if you don’t have a pump or fish. Either way, the water molecules will move due to (for example) the change in temperature of the water.

  • If you are planting in water baskets, line the baskets with burlap or fabric liners.
  • So the big hole water baskets will not let the water floor slowly go away.

Water lily planting technique

Regular planting methods indicate that water lily rhizomes should be planted with the growing tips exposed slightly above the water floor. This is expressed for simplicity. Moreover, it is not frankly detrimental to most species of water lilies.

However, this information needs to be qualified. Indeed, there are 5 basic types of water lily rhizomes. These 5 types are of different shapes.

Thus, water lilies send out their roots from the stem “joints” where the stems and rhizome come together. Make sure, and this is important, to always plant the base of the leaf stems below ground level.

  • Basically, be sure to bury the entire growing tip 2-4cm below ground level. This way you can’t go wrong.
  • Some rhizomes like to be planted upright and some almost flat. But for best results (overall), plant at a 45 degree angle.


By respecting these few rules for planting water lilies, whatever the species, the blooms will be resplendent.

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