The Beauty of Water Lilies

This Friday’s meme or blog carnival is actually 2.  It is Fertilizer Friday and I am also submitting this post for the monthly carnival “How To Find Great Plants (HtFGP)” hosted by Appalachian Feet.  Gardeners post about their favorite ornamental or edible plant that they would recommend to others the last Friday of the month.  The posts are collected and then reposted the following Monday in a unique format.

When we decided to put a pond into our new garden 6 years ago, I knew it would have to have water lilies.  After all my favorite paintings from the time I was young have always been Claude Monet’s paintings of water lilies.  Since you have to be hardy to live in my garden,  I only planted hardy water lilies.  I don’t have time or luck lifting bulbs or plants to overwinter here in my zone 5 garden.  So you better like frigid temps and winter snow.

I found hardy water lilies fairly easy to plant.  I bought a fabric pot, pond planting medium and fertilizer for pond plants as well as the water lilies all online.  There are a number of good online sites for pond supplies and plants.  Aquascape was great for finding the planting supplies I needed.  And I found many plant suppliers online too; if you can find a local grower that is even better.

Once I assembled the plant in the fabric pot and secured the top folds with gravel, it was lowered into the pond.  Hardy lilies like to be in the deep parts of the pond at least a foot down.  Mine are at a couple of feet down. I planted mine that deep so they were below the freeze line and would over winter easily since we let the pond freeze over; but it does not freeze completely.

You are supposed to plant water lilies in early spring and fertilize every month or so; not to mention dividing them.  Well mine were planted in early summer; I used a slow release fertilizer once in 5 years and they have never been divided.  As you can see from the photos, they are doing fine so they really are not a fussy plant.

They do however require a fair amount of sunlight; at least 5-6 hours a day.  The flowers open as the later morning light brightens and close as the sun starts to sink low in late afternoon or on a cloudy day.  And alas the blooms only last a few days.  Water lilies also prefer still water, but the yellow one is situated right in front of the water fall.  It took longer to establish, but it is doing fine now because there isn’t a swift current.

Their beauty is not just in the flower, but the foliage.  The leaves of the pink water lily come out in this reddish-purple hue, and when they mature to green in warmer temps, their underside retains this coloring.  My yellow water lily sometimes has speckled leaves.  And if aphids show up, you just push the lily and pad under water to wash them off and let the frogs feast.

They are beautiful in fall too when the pond begins to get frost and the leaves change color, they too put on a spectacular show in the dark still pond water.