How do Hardy water lilies differ from Tropical water lilies?
Most hardy water lilies have been grown
and bred from varieties that originated in the cooler parts of the Northern
Hemisphere. They will survive severe
frost provided that the rhizome's (the crown / root stocks) do not freeze. There are no hardy
water lilies native to Australia.
The flowers tend to float on the water surface or only just above and can come in a range of colours including - apricots, pinks, reds, whites
and yellows. Some even change colours
and are referred to as changeable.
Tropical water lilies grow in warmer climates and produce flowers that stand up,
typically 30cm high, out of the pond water.
Some of the flower colours range from pinks to reds, whites and yellow,
but also purples and blues.
The leaves of hardy water lilies tend to have smooth rounded edges,
whereas tropical water lilies produce leaves with toothed or scalloped
The 4 key factors to successfully get hardy water lilies flowering.
Hardy water lilies vary greatly in their flowering performance. Some will only produce a few flowers per
month while others can produce many each week.
The white and paler pink varieties tend to produce fewer flowers. Most hardy water
lilies will produce flowers within the first year of being planted,
however there are some varieties that only flower once they have almost over
grown the container. They need to form a
colony (multiple) of rhizomes before they can flower.
Day length is probably the number one factor affecting
the ability of hardy water lilies to
flower. In the southern states of
Australia, the day length change is far greater than in the tropical northern
regions. At Oz Watergardens (based in
Victoria) we have noticed that flowering coincides with the equinox (when day
and night lengths are the same). Hence
flowering tends to start late September and carry through to about late
The further north (closer to the equator) where the day lengths tend to
remain longer, flowering can start earlier and continue for many more months.
Temperature is the second factor that affects
flowering. Typically hardy water lilies start to flower at temperatures
above 16-18°C. Many of the darker
coloured red-pink varieties are susceptible to petal burn at temperatures above
32°C, others that have been bred from colder climate varieties may even slow or
stop flowering, in the heights of summer, as it becomes too hot for them.
Plant size. As with any garden plant, the larger the plant, the more flowers that can
be produced. At Oz Watergardens we only
plant strong, healthy waterlily rhizomes.
We strive to sell only the flowering sized plants, growing the majority
of our hardy water lilies in 20cm pots. This is the smallest container that you
should grow them in. A smaller container
will only allow a smaller root system to grow, resulting in weaker, poor
performing plants. Ideally, a larger
container would be better, but we still need to transport them
A plant that is growing vigorously is able to produce more leaves
and in turn produce not only more flowers but also larger sized flowers. For best performance hardy
water lilies need room to grow and lots of food. We recommend using slow release fertiliser
tablets inserted into the soil.
- Hardy water lilies need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight
to flower. Some varieties such as
Nymphaea 'Chromatella' can tolerate light shade.
- For information on the plant care and
maintenance of hardy water lilies go to our
Tips & Hints page.
Please use our store
locator to contact your nearest garden centre, to place an order.