Caring for the water lily properly

Caring for the water lily properly

Plant the water lily properly

Plant the tubers or pre-grown water lilies in a container from the end of July to the beginning / middle of October in a sunny to partially shaded location. As the perennial name suggests, the flower favors swampy soil up to a water depth of 20 cm. Since a swamp sword lily has a reputation for being prone to proliferating, we recommend using plant baskets. Planting succeeds in no time at all:

  • Make small pits at a distance of 40-50 cm and sprinkle with horn meal
  • Place a rhizome 5-8 cm deep in the moist soil, with the roots pointing downwards
  • Put the grown plants in the pot so deep that the soil reaches to the lower two leaves

also read

  • The water lily: is it poisonous?
  • Water lily as a houseplant: how to care for it
  • What is the best way to propagate water lilies?

For planting in the shallow water zone, line a plant basket (€ 11.11 on Amazon *) with fleece, fill it with bog soil and insert the tuber or the potted root ball. To prevent the substrate from being washed out, mulch with small stones. Finally, the basket is sunk into the water a maximum of 20 cm.

Care tips

If a water lily is in the right place, it requires little horticultural attention. Fertilizer is only given when there are deficiency symptoms. Avoid mineral preparations, as the perennial reacts badly to them. If you clean the withered flowers regularly, this will help to keep them looking neat and prolong the flowering time. After the mighty rhizome has moved in all parts of the plant in autumn, cut the swamp iris close to the ground.

Which location is suitable?

In the sunny to partially shaded location, the water lily feels in good hands in humus swamp soil. It particularly likes to stretch its roots in slightly acidic muddy soil, up to a water depth of 20 cm. Since the flower develops stable stems and forms dense clumps over time, the location at the water's edge can be bathed in air. If you struggle with permanently moist layers in the perennial bed, the yellow iris is also happy to be there, as long as an adequate water supply is guaranteed.

The correct planting distance

We recommend a planting distance of 40 to 50 cm to the neighbors so that a swamp sword lily can develop its majestic stature. Arrange 3 to 4 bulbs per square meter in order to green a large water garden with water lilies.

What soil does the plant need?

The water lily fulfills all expectations of its abundance of flowers when the tubers are placed in boggy, humus-rich and slightly acidic soil. The ideal water depth varies between 10 and 20 cm. It is advantageous to cultivate the Sword Lily in a planting basket, as the perennial tends to overgrow. In this case we recommend using bog soil as a substrate. The yellow iris acts as a problem solver in borders where the soil is too moist for traditional perennials.

What is the best time to plant?

If you put the tubers in the ground between July and September, the water lily will have an excellent start to the perennial life. At this time of year the soil is wonderfully warm, so that a root system can develop quickly. If you miss this date, you can use the second time slot in April / May.

When is the flowering time?

The flowering period of water lilies extends from May to June. Wilted flowers are cleaned regularly so that the magnificent flowers can last for many weeks. Since there are usually several buds per stem, you create space for more specimens in this way.

Cut the water lily properly

Cutting plays an important part in the professional care program so that you can enjoy your water lily for many years. The scissors are used on these occasions:

  • Regularly cut off withered flowers during the flowering period
  • Stems that have just blossomed cut as a vase decoration
  • Cut back close to the ground before the first frost

If you give a swamp lily enough opportunity to seed it before pruning, the perennial will take over the reproduction without further action. In this case, wait until the cylindrical fruits with the numerous seeds have opened.

Fertilize water lily properly

Cultivated in the swamp or shallow water zone along the garden pond, a water lily is only fertilized when there are obvious deficiency symptoms. Poor flowers, dull colors or yellowed leaves indicate a lack of nutrients. In this case, give a special liquid fertilizer for pond plants until the perennial has recovered. If the swamp sword lily thrives in the bed, a start fertilization with compost and horn shavings (€ 6.39 on Amazon *) in May is sufficient.


The native water lily is completely hardy. In late autumn, the above-ground parts of the plant move in. The underground rhizome survives frosty temperatures down to - 28 degrees Celsius unscathed. Since overwintering costs the perennial a lot of energy, in autumn it draws all the remaining nutrients from the leaves. Only cut the leaves close to the ground when they have completely yellowed. If self-sowing is not desired, cut off the withered flower heads beforehand.

Propagate water lily

The following two methods are available to propagate a magnificent water lily:

  • Division of the rhizome in spring or autumn
  • Sow the seeds behind glass at 15-18 degrees Celsius, cultivated as a light and cold germ

Please keep in mind that propagation by sowing requires a much longer thread of patience than division. Seedling-propagated water lilies usually only bloom for the first time after 3 to 5 years.

Is water lily poisonous?

All members of the large plant family of the Iris family are permeated with toxic substances. The highest poisonous content is in the tubers. Those who let themselves be carried away to eat them will be punished with severe nausea, vomiting and other symptoms of intoxication. The water lily poses the greatest danger for pets of all kinds, as they could nibble on the bulbs, leaves and flowers.

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Nice varieties

  • Yellow swamp sword lily: The wild species impresses with robust growth and splendid flowering into July
  • Berlin Tiger: This variety sets itself apart with tiger skin-like petals; Height of growth 60 to 100 cm
  • Golden Queen: Royal water lily with golden-yellow flowers, surrounded by bees and butterflies
  • Variegata: This picturesque hybrid scores with bright yellow flowers and yellow-striped leaves
  • Rose Queen: Rarity with delicate pink flowers over sword-shaped, smooth green foliage; Height 60-80 cm