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Growing Water Lilies in Deep Ponds

Growing Water Lilies in Deep Ponds

One of the most frequent inquiries I receive is “What Water Lilies are suitable for deep water.”? The deepest water in larger ponds and lakes could be anywhere between 4 to 15 feet or even deeper. However, Water Lilies will not grow in waters of more than 5 ft deep… and there are only a few Water Lily cultivars that will grow happily in water that is 5 ft in depth. Quite a lot of cultivars will grow happily in 3 to 4 ft of water if allowed time to establish.

There are two essential things that Water Lilies require in order to grow fast and colonise quickly: warm water and light.   All large-growing Water Lily cultivars will grow twice or three times as fast when planted into shallow waters (12-18 inches deep).  Logically, in 3 to 5 ft of water, there will be less light and the water will be cooler. Therefore, a large colony of Water Lily tubers/rhizomes will take a long time to establish.   So when you see a large patch of established Water Lilies in a village pond, they have probably been growing there for a long time. Or they might be growing in a purpose or natural raised/shallow area of clay/silt which is ideal.

Water Lilies always grow better when planted straight into natural clay and silt, rather than in aquatic baskets ,as the rhizomes/tubers are not restricted.   Do you have have a man-made concrete, lined or fiberglass pond? If possible, add 6-8 inches of pond substrate into the bottom of the pond for ‘natural’ planting.

Aquatic Baskets and Water Depth Requirements

However, we know that adding a natural level of sediment/substrate to a man-made pond can be a costly procedure. This is why most of the time we advise planting large Water Lily cultivars into 40 cm square aquatic baskets.  For immediate impact and a more established look, plant multiple rhizomes (3 or 5) into one basket. We always recommend this if the basket is going into deeper water (3-5 ft). If the basket is to be in shallow water (12 to 18 inches), then you might want to plant just one or two rhizomes. As explained above, they will grow three times as quickly in these conditions.

One good thing about 40cm aquatic baskets is they are spacious, 12 inches deep. Now, the water-depth calculation will be the distance from the top of the aquatic basket to the water surface. Consequently, if your pond is 4 ft deep and the baskets are at the bottom of the pond, you will be able to choose Water Lily cultivars with a water depth requirement of 3 ft.

I have listed three large growing Water Lily cultivars below with links to photos, but there are plenty more listed on my website  that will grow in water that is 3-4 ft deep.  The water depth requirements can be seen below the Water Lily cultivar images throughout the website.

Nymphaea Texas Dawn

Nymphaea Postlinberg

Nymphaea Myra

We have a full range of water garden plants including Ferns, Moisture loving perennials, Rockery plants, Marginal plants. Also Deep water marginal plants, Water lilies, free floating pond plants and oxygenating plants. These are all available to buy online or from our retail nursery in Surrey, please visit our online store