Planting & Maintaining Water Lilies

Shopping List
- Potting containers
- Aquatic fertilizer tablets
- Pea gravel
- Aquatic Soil or Heavy topsoil (potting soil will float out of the pot and into the water)



  1. Select potting container to correspond to lily size.
  2. Fill the container 1/3 full of soil.
  3. Push in fertilizer tablets according to directions.
  4. Position lily with the cut edge against the side of the pot. Growing tip should be up at a 45 degree angle and point into the center of the pot to allow for maximum growth.
  5. Gently add soil around roots and tamp down.

  6. Keep growing crown (at top of root formation) free of soil.
  7. Thoroughly saturate soil with water.
  8. Cover soil with a 1/2 inch of pea gravel again keeping the crown free.
  9. Lower potted lily into pool to a depth of 18-24 inches of water over soil surface. If the lily has few or no leaves, place it in 6-8 inches of water for the first few weeks to encourage plant growth.
  10. Lilies require 2-3 weeks adjustment after planting before new growth resumes.


Spring/Summer Maintenance:
  1. Fertilize according to directions during growing season.
  2. Remove yellow leaves and spent flowers.
  3. Divide and repot lilies in the spring every 1-2 years.
Fall/Winter Maintenance:
  1. Stop fertilizing.
  2. Remove dead leaves and stems.
  3. Leave hardy lilies in the bottom of the pond. If the roots might freeze (such as in an above ground pond/tub), remove lilies and place in a cellar or garage. Keep cool and moist until spring.

Dividing Hardy Water Lilies


     Hardy water lilies grown in containers require division every year or two. Overgrown lilies in need of dividing do not bloom. They produce smaller and smaller leaves from multiple growing points in the rootstock. The lily has a congested appearance and leaf color may be yellowish. The lily's container may be so full of roots that it is difficult to insert the fertilizer tablets.

     Division and repotting usually restores vigor and bloom. The best time to divide a hardy water lily is in the spring although they may be divided at other times of the growing season. After repotting, a lily usually does not bloom for three to four weeks. Many water gardeners divide and repot their lilies every spring or every other spring when they start up their pond.

Dividing Water Lily
Dividing Procedure:
  1. Remove the plant from the container and rinse off all of the soil. Plant will have a main growing tip and some secondary juvenile growing tips visible on a large rootstock.
  2. Cut off (or break off) old rootstock end, leaving 4-6 inches of healthy rootstock with the main growing tip. Cut off juvenile crowns. Discard old woody rootstock end.
  3. Repot trimmed rootstock, following planting instructions (on other side of this sheet). Use clay soil from your garden or special aquatic plant soil. Be sure to fertilize with tablets made especially for water lilies and other water plants. Juvenile crowns or growing tips may be discarded or potted in a small (1 gallon) container and grown in shallow water for a season. They will be blooming size plants in one year or less.