Water lily rhizomes come in a multitude of sizes and forms (those of a finger, a pineapple, a tuber, etc.). Usually, divisions of water lilies are sold when they are 10-15 cms long, while their diameter varies by the cultivar (from that of a finger to that of a small ‘pineapple’). Rhizomes of miniature water lilies are tiny, only 4-6 cm long. Depending on a variety, a division can weigh from several grams to a few hundred grams.
The rhizomatous rootstock of water lily consists of one or several large, straight or branched rhizomes covered in numerous roots. The finger-shaped rhizomes sprout roots only on one side, so make sure you do not plant them upside down (in most cases, one can easily see where the roots were attached to the rhizome previously). The rhizome should be planted horizontally, at an angle of approximately 45 or 70 degrees, buried in the soil, with the crown just above the soil. When the growth tip does not show, the division should be planted cut side down.
The pineapple-shaped rhizomes should be planted vertically, since their roots grow all around the rhizome, but the plant will not be harmed much, if you plant it in the usual way.
Miniature, small and medium water lilies are best planted into aquatic baskets or pots, since they will have to be moved for overwintering either into the deeper end of the pond or into a basement, in case your pool is on a shallow side. However, if the pond does not have a natural lining of soil, and is lined by the plastic lining or concrete instead, large water lilies are best planted into baskets too. Same advise should be followed if you need to control the growth of water lilies, or if you intend to grow the plants less than 1 metre deep (even in natural ponds).
A common question is whether it is better to plant a water lily into an aquatic mesh basket or into a simple pot. The mesh baskets are a very good choice, if your pond is a natural one, with soil at the bottom, or if there is a considerable amount of mud above the plastic lining. The roots then fill the basket promptly, and carry on into the outside. The mud provides the plants with supplemental nourishment and ensures favourable growing conditions. Planting baskets with wide-meshed sides will need to be lined with some fine-mesh material, otherwise the soil will fall out before the roots have a chance to grow and bind it together.
If you choose to plant your water lilies in a pond lined with the plastic lining or concrete, you may plant them in a simple plastic pot. An ordinary large pot will do the job well, as long as you choose a wide and a spacious one. You should also keep in mind, the rhizomes of pot-grown water lilies tend to smell of mud and are more prone to disease.
Hardy water lilies show them best in a soil like clay. if you plant to a basket, use heavy soil from your garden. Be sure there is no unroted organic in the soil, cause it will rot or float to the top in your pond. The soil is best wet, you can do this by soaking the pot in the water until the soil is soft enough to push your fingers down into the soil.
Plant rhizome and cover soil with gravel just for to not let it float up. Be sure not to bury the rhizome to deep, try not to cover new growth coming with soil or gravel.
The life cycles of water lilies, just like all other plants, are largely depend by weather conditions. Our nursery is located in 5 zone, in the middle of Lithuania. Usually, ice on the lakes and ponds melts in April, although sometimes it may happen as early as the beginning of March. The planting season of water lilies starts in May. In a cold and cloudy spring, the water warms up very slowly, therefore water lilies are in no hurry to start new growth, so they float their leaves only in 8-10 weeks. Until that moment, new shoots linger underwater. If the spring comes early and the water warms up promptly, then new leaves of the plants will appear on the surface earlier.
In order to get the maximum amount of blooms water lilies need plenty of sun, usually 4-6 hours of direct sun is required.
© Giedra Bartas, 2009