The Nymphaeaceae is a family of plants that live in freshwater areas and tropical climates. The common name for members of this family is the water lily. Water lilies grow in bodies of water, rooted in the soil and extending out above the water, so the leaves and flowers float on the surface.
Aside from adding beauty to your pond, water lilies are also beneficial to it. They provide shade to the pond, which keeps the water temperature cool in the summer and combats algae growth. They also provide shelter for fish from the sun.
Plus, they take in nutrients from the water that would otherwise go to algae and other undesirable plants, keeping the water clean and clear.
There are two types of water lilies, hardy and tropical. Tropical lilies will bloom in exotic colors – hues of blues and purples, and are great for spring and summer. The biggest problem with tropical lilies is that they require water temperatures above 70 degrees, so they wouldn’t be able to make it through the late fall and winter months. Hardy lilies are a better choice because they can thrive in most environments and climates. Hardy lilies are daytime bloomers and come in colors like white, pink and yellow.
Water lilies are purchased as tubers, which will grow horizontally. Therefore, it’s best to use a container at least 12″ wide or larger, to allow space for the roots to spread. If you choose a container with drainage holes, you can can simply line the basket with a sheet of burlap, so the soil doesn’t leak.
Use a heavy soil like garden or topsoil, so it won’t float out of the container when placed in the water. You can also cover the soil with a layer of gravel to hold it in place. It’s a good idea to add fertilizer tablets into the soil before planting. This will ensure a constant supply of nutrients for the plants. When putting the tubers in the soil, place them against the side of the container and angle them up toward the center of the pot.
Lower the container into the water slowly and at an angle, allowing any air to escape. Once the lilies are in place, they are practically maintenance free. Pruning and fertilization is not required, as long as the pond water is kept clean.
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