Season's Pickings: The Lotus Position
Exotic but down to earth, water lilies are easy to grow and look lush on display.
Water lilies have star quality, pure and simple. Because they seem so exotic, people think they are hard to grow. Nothing could be further from the truth – all they really need is plenty of sun and still water.
They are so vigorous that their roots are best contained firmly in submerged pots or you will soon find they take over your pond. In a barrel, you can use a single plant. From March to August they will be dormant, but once they start growing again in spring you can rely on a burst of colour that will last all summer long. Peak flowering time is January and February, so make sure you visit a water lily garden then to decide which ones you like best.
Water lilies are either hardy (temperate) – including the miniature or pygmy varieties – or tropical. But these distinctions don’t have much to do with climate, as the tropical ones can tolerate cold temperatures. The difference is that hardy water lilies don’t flower as much but their leaves last longer.
They grow differently too; the tropical varieties flower much more prolifically and grow straight up from the bulb to stand tall above the leaves. These are the ones you can buy as cut flowers. Hardy plants spread out from their rhizomes like irises and appear almost to rest on their leaves. Both come in a wide range of colours but only the tropical lilies have blue and purple blooms.
How to display water lilies in bamboo
TIP: Water lilies follow the light as they develop and close at night – but they will open again in the morning. When they no longer open, they are finished.
Web Exclusive: How to Arrange Water Lilies
|Story: Rose Thodey |
Photographer: Kelley Eady Loveridge
Stylist: Wendy Hart