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Backyard Connection: Selecting Water Lilies

Water lilies are among the most popular of water garden plants. The beautiful blossoms reach tremendous size and continue over a very long season. There are many options available when selecting water lilies for your garden: water lilies are either winter hardy or tropical and can be day-blooming or night-blooming. Consider the following traits when making a selection.

Though hardy water lilies are a little smaller than the tropical, they are just as beautiful and come in a variety of colors including red, pink, peach, orange, white, or yellow. You will also find hardy lilies in a variety of sizes including miniature plants that work well in tub gardens. The advantage of hardy water lilies is their ability to survive winters in a dormant condition. To do so, the roots must be below the freeze line. Make sure the top of the lily container is a minimum of 12 inches below the water’s surface.

For tropical waterlilies, we can add purple and blue hues to the range of colors available. Tropical water lilies are a bit showier than hardy species, but they will not survive cold winters. Unless you have a greenhouse, treat tropical waterlilies like annuals and enjoy one marvelous season of blooms per plant. Tropical water lilies can be either day-blooming or night-blooming. For those working nine to five, a night-blooming water lily may be the best choice. These beauties open in the evening and remain open through mid-morning – perfect for enjoying before or after work. Night-blooming varieties come in many colors, but I find the white cultivars to be ideal, as they stand out beneath the moonlight. For the best of both worlds, consider planting both day-blooming and night-blooming varieties in the water garden.

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