Water Lilies are the crowning glory to any pond or pool. Water Lilies , or nymphaeaceae, have been cultivated for thousands of years, though they have only recently achieved popularity in the United States. According to the Chinese water lilies reflect purity and truth. The lilies are not only appreciated for their decorative nature but their fragrances as well.

Nymphaea are divided into two groups and subgroups. The apocarpiae are the tropical varieties with fragrant flowers held high above the water. Syncarpiae are the hardy varieties and some tropicals. The hardy varieties are primarily grown in the cooler climates, while the tropical lilies are grown in warmer areas. The tropical lilies are classified as day-blooming (opening at sunrise and closing at sunset) and night-blooming (opening at sunset and closing at sunrise). On overcast days the night-bloomers can remain open during the day.

Water Lilies sprout from either a rhizome or a tuber. The rhizome growth extends and branches, while the tuberous lilies produce many young tubers. The leaves are attached to long petioles or stalks. The shapes vary between oval to circular and cleft in the center. The glossy upper leaf is water repellent, while the underside has a strong attraction to the water and literally grabs the surface.

The herbaceous aquatic plants produce three different kinds of leaves at various times: submerged leaves, aerial leaves and floating foliage. The submerged leaves app;ear each spring when the plants begin their growth cycle. The aerial leaves, which are primarily found in the tropical species reach up above the eater. Floating leaves or lily pads, which hug the water surface. The leaves are short lived and are replaced on a regular basis during the growing season.

The blossoms come in various shapes, sizes and colors. The common shapes are: star, rounded and plate-like. The whole color spectrum plus various shades can be found in the tropical varieties. The blue colors are absent in the hardy varieties. Most water lilies have a fragrance.

Water Lilies should be planted in a soil mixture of marl or sand and peat mixed half and half. Place stones in the bottom of the container to add weight. Tropical lilies should be planted in the center of the container with the crowns above the soil. There should be 4" to 6" of water over the soil line, but no lower than 18". The lilies can be floated on the top of the water and their roots allowed to establish in a sandy bottom or water lily soil moisture. Chlorinated should not b used the Water Lilies. Well or rainwater are preferred. Fertilize the plant at the beginning of spring, in the warm weather and fertilizer at regular intervals until the weather turns cold again. Use a fertilizer specifically formulated for water plants such as Agriform tablets.

Water Lilies provide shade coverage. The plant should only cover 60% t0 70% of the pond to be effective. The lilies also help prevent water evaporation.

Water Lilies should be divided in the spring. The older portion or original plant should be discarded allowing the new healthy shoots or tubers to grow.

During cooler weather the leaves will shrink or even disappear. This is a natural occurrence. The plant will re-sprout when the warmer weather returns.

Courtesy of: Palm Hammock Orchid Estate - 9995 S.W. 66 St. - Miami, Fl 33173 (305) 274-9813 www.palmhammock.com

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