Tropical Water Lily

By: C. Colston Burrell
Tropical water lily is a delicate flower ideal for a water garden.

The exotically tropical water lily has a season-long bloom that make them ideal choices for the water garden. They need more care than their hardy cousins.

Description of tropical water lily: Tropical water lilies bear round shiny leaves, often with crinkled edges. They can be green or maroon or green mottled with darker shades. The large flowers (up to 13 inches across) are fragrant and are borne on stems rising above the water. They come in just about every shade, from white, pink, and yellow to purple, blue, and red. Night-blooming tropicals have flowers that open from dusk to mid-morning. Day-bloomers have just the opposite schedule: from mid-day to dusk. Tropical water lilies grow from tubers. Easy of care of tropical water lily: Moderately difficult.


Growing tropical water lily: Tropical water lilies should not be planted out until the water warms up in late spring or early summer. Plant them in the center of a large container with just the crown showing. They need at least 6 hours of full sun to bloom well and require still water 6 to 18 inches deep over their tubers. Fertilize regularly. Tropical water lilies are usually treated as annuals except in USDA zone 10, but they can be overwintered in a greenhouse in colder climates.

Propagating tropical water lily: By division. Some types produce new plantlets from their leaves.

Uses for tropical water lily: Tropical water lilies are the stars of the water garden wherever they are grown and should be placed where they are allowed to steal the show. They also make excellent cut flowers.

Related varieties of tropical water lily: Some of the most popular varieties include Evelyn Randig, a pink day-bloomer; Wood's White Knight, a white night-bloomer; and Yellow Dazzler, a yellow day-bloomer. Nymphaea colorata is a small-growing day-bloomer with blue flowers, ideal for smaller pools.

Scientific name of tropical water lily: Nymphaea species


Want more information on gardening and great plants you can grow? Try:

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  • Water Gardens: Learn how to plant a vital water garden to bring new life into your yard or patio space.
  • Water Garden Plants: Find out about stunning options for planting that will make your water garden unique and lovely.