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7 Tips For Dividing Your Wonderful Water Lilies

Spring is a great time to divide hardy water lilies. We recently divided the water lilies in the pond behind the Lucius Ball home here at Minnetrista. If you have a hardy water lily at your home, here are some things to keep in mind when dividing or planting.

1. Water lilies grow more horizontally than deep, so the wider the pot, the better. Look for a pot that is at least 16″ wide.

The water lily rhizomes have grown so much that we have to cut the pots to get them out!

2. Heavy clay soil is preferred by water lilies. Don’t use potting mixes. They contain peat and bark, which will float to the surface of the water.

3. A four to five inch piece of rhizome is all that you’ll need for each pot. By the end of the summer, this little piece will fill the whole pot. Compost leftover rhizomes or share with friends.

Repotting a water lily rhizome

4. Make sure the piece of rhizome you cut off contains a growing point. This will be at the tip of the rhizome. You may see leaves starting to emerge.

A waterlily rhizome growing out of its pot.

5. Place the cut end of the rhizome against the pot. This means the growing point will be towards the center of the pot, giving it maximum space to grow before it reaches the other side of the pot.

6. Don’t cover the growing point with soil or rocks. This could kill the plant. The rest of the rhizome can be covered with soil, and a rock can be temporarily placed on top of it to keep it anchored while it establishes roots.

You can see the little leaves at the growing tip still exposed. Be sure not to cover them with soil.

7. Adding an inch of pea gravel on top is optional. This helps hold soil particles in the container. It can also make containers look more attractive, and if you’ve had trouble with fish rooting around in your containers, it may discourage them.

You don’t need a pond to grow hardy water lilies. There are dwarf varieties that can be grown in small containers. Check online or at your local garden center to purchase these. If you’d like to learn more about growing aquatic plants in containers, sign up online or phone 765-282-4848 for Minnetrista’s Garden Workshop: Aquatic Containers. It will be take place on June 7 during Garden Fair at Minnetrista.