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How to Choose Water Lilies | William Tricker, Inc.
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Greenhouses & Hatcheries at 7125 Tanglewood Dr, Independence OH. 44131 1-800-524-3492

America's Oldest Water Garden Speciality Store

Water lily icon How to Choose Water Lilies

Water Lilies are the aristocrat of the water garden pool. They are grouped into Tropical and Hardy varieties. One of the most common questions Tricker receives each year is what type of water lily should you purchase? The following chart, found in our Tricker catalog, compares the general characteristics of the Hardy and Tropical varieties: Also, read the characteristic summary below. Note: From Tricker's you receive a full water lily plant with pads that is ready to show the beauty in your water garden pool! You will enjoy the water lily ALL summer long!

Many gardeners desire hybrid plants that are easy to grow but also have proven beauty that will last. This is the offering at Tricker's you will receive. Many of our water lily hybrids have been developed here at our nursery and have stood out among the best in the industry for decades. In addition, our company was the exclusive distributor of the Pring tropical water lily hybrids when they were introduced years ago. The famous hybridizer M. Marliac's hardy hybrid water lilies are also a very important ingredient in Tricker's selection. The water lily pioneers and many of these select hybrids are described in the book Tricker's 1101 Water Gardening Questions and Answers.

Tap on above video to view Tropical Night Blooming Water Lilies Preview. Enjoy!
Tricker's ensures that you are getting authentic hybrids known for their beautiful blooms. Over the century, we have developed techniques to provide you with a quality water lilies directly from us that will be successfully planted to grow and prosper in your water garden pond. The above drawing is from Tricker's 1941 mail order catalog. Tricker's ships the world and your water garden is just around the corner!

Some years ago England had trials to establish the correct popular red water lily called 'Attraction', a beautiful 1910 hybrid by M. Marliac. They found many versions of this water lily grown have been grown around the world. There are many mislabeled images of water lilies for sale on the Internet and in stores.

A leading American grower and hybridizer of wholesale water lilies would sell 4 versions of the 'Attraction' water lily. Tricker's experts propagated, identified and maintained the true variety that has adorned water gardens for a century. Our goal is for our customers to enjoy varieties of water lilies.

Spreads: Most water lilies will reach typical spreads across the surface of the pond of 2-3 feet when planted into Tricker's aquatic "large" crates. However, if planted into an "extra large" crate the water lilies will grow to larger sizes that often become typical of the book descriptions in size. There are special "pygmy" water lilies that can spread less than the 2-3 feet when planted in a smaller container.  These special water lilies will still grow and bloom.  These are often selected for tub gardening or for that special place in your water garden pool that needs a smaller coverage water lily.

Sunlight Requirements: Most water lilies require at least 4-6 hours of sunlight per day. However, Trickers Nurseries has developed some varieties that can still bloom and grow with reduced light such as the tropical water lilies Patricia, Independence', 'Janice', 'Blue Bird', 'Panama Pacific' and included are from other hybridizers are varieties such as 'August Koch', and 'Dauben'. All of these varieties you will find in Tricker's on line store! Not only do the mentioned tropical water lilies require less daily light, but they also are known for growing and blooming long into the fall or autumn when all other water lilies are going dormant. Hardy varieties are not known for less sunlight, and typically require full sunlight.

Blooming Characteristics: It is well known that the tropical water lily will produce far more blooms than the hardy variety. The tropical water lilies will typically produce a multitude of flowers all summer long that stand high above the water surface! The hardy variety, typically with flowers floating on the surface of the water, will prepare for winter by making a tuber and reduce blooms as fall approaches. There are many hardy hybrids that are extremely beautiful and produce a wonderful amount of flowers during the year. Tricker's offers collections of water lilies that include both hardy and tropical varieties so that the customer can try both the hardy and tropical varieties to witness for themselves the outstanding characteristics of each. Thus, by growing both the hardy and tropical water lilies can result in a full summer of water lily blooms! However, it is by far worth the effort to grow tropical water lilies that produce a multitude of blooms and witness the tremendous growth and beauty as our special hybridizers intended!

Sir Galahad Water Lily - Do you desire flowers this large? Here are 9 inch flowers that are produced on tropical water lilies! And Sir Galahad will open in the late afternoons when the other water lilies are closing and will still be open the next morning before the day blooming lilies open!

Growth Rates: Again, there is no competition to the growth rate of the tropical water lily. The tropical water lily will grow rapidly during the summer months. Hardy water lilies typically will slow in growth if a summer is very hot. The night blooming water lilies are very aggressive and will typically grow into spectacular sights.

Blooming Fragrances: Tropical water lilies are extremely fragrant and produce a wonderful aroma. In fact many water gardeners will enjoy the cut the flowers by floating them in a bowl of water indoors on the table (photograph in book 1101 Water Gardening Questions and Answers and also discusses how to keep the blossom open at night for indoor enjoyment). The sight of the blossoms and fragrance is wonderful. Many hardy water lilies produce a slight, characteristic odor but are not known for their fragrances. However, cut hardy water lily blossoms can still be enjoyed floating in a bowl of water on a table as shown in our Tricker book. If you bring the tropical water lily blossoms indoors, the beautiful fragrance with permeate the entire house! A summer fragrance from your special water garden is perhaps one of the enjoyments of having a water garden pool. If you are able to visit our aquatic greenhouses, you will be able to smell the aroma of thousands of water lilies! A true treat for any avid water gardener!

Fertilizers: Water Lilies, as well as all aquatics, require a program of fertilization if the customer is to expect the descriptive flowers and plant size indicated in catalogs. Tricker offers two types of aquatic fertilizer to get the most from the water lily. A proven granular aquatic fertilizer, Tricker's Praefecta, that is used to mix into your top soil when planting and gives the water lily a good growing root and flower foundation. It is highly recommended that the topsoil contains clay. Clay acts as a magnet in holding and attracting nutrients in the soil's aquatic environment. If your soil does not have clay, Tricker's offers a product similar to clay, AMT which can be added to the topsoil. The water soluble pellet fertilizer, Trico, is then used throughout the season to fertilizer the water lilies as it produces more leaves and blossoms. Water lilies will typically go into a dormancy if they are not correctly feed.

Night Blooming Water Lilies: The tropical and hardy day blooming lilies all close during the late afternoon and into the night and open in the later part of the morning as the sun becomes intense. Only tropical varieties of night blooming water lilies are available. The tropical night blooming water lilies typically open late in the day and close early the next morning (depending upon sunlight). This allows the water gardener to see the water lily blossom before going to work in the morning and enjoying them when they come home. In fact, if you do not grow night blooming lilies and work throughout the week, you will only enjoy the water lily blooms of hardy and tropical day blooming water lilies only on the weekends. This is why Tricker's offers collection of day and night bloomers to be able to produce 24 hours of blooms and enjoy this beauty throughout the growing season. However, at night the spectacular sight in moonlight is indescribable, the flowers appear as a glowing entity. If you never grew a night bloomer, try one and you will be pleasingly surprised at its beauty. Planted into a large crate can have extremely large blossoms, see photograph. In fact, they will not only outgrow a hardy water lily, but will also out grow a tropical day blooming water lily...they are most spectacular!

How early in the Spring can the tropical water lilies be planted in an outdoor water garden pool? Tricker's has been shipping tropical water lilies throughout the US and world for decades and makes every effort in providing you with tropical water lilies that you can be enjoyed all summer long. Tricker's grows and propagates all of our lilies to shipping and transplant size before they are sent to your water garden pool. Since tropical water lilies, both day and night bloomers, have more outstanding desired benefits over the hardy water lilies this question is most common with new water gardeners. There are a few important factors that determine this answer that surround mainly water temperatures (both day and night) and sunlight. Tropical water lilies grow best in water that is at least maintained at 70+ degrees. Tricker's Spring Shipping Schedule for each state tries to make sure this occurs by shipping to your area when transplanting is best. Also, in many varieties the length of day light (photoperiodism), which slowly increases during the year in Spring, must also be considered for developmental growth and producing blooms. For example, the best time to plant tropical water lilies in an outdoor pool is around the first week of June in the latitudes of Chicago, Cleveland, and New York City when warmer temperatures stabilize and day light is optimum for growth and blooms. If the weather pattern is exceptionally warm a particular year, Tricker's will ship earlier. Southern states can be shipped earlier as indicated in Tricker's shipping schedule. A common mistake is to plant too early in Spring during an above average spell of warm weather. When the weather returns to normal lower values, as it typically does, the water lilies can either be stunted or die. Since the tropical water lily is an extremely fast grower, a slight delay in planting during a warm spell is not worth the risk since it is often normal for average cooler temperatures to return. Tropical water lilies will bloom later in the autumn than the hardy water lilies which are preparing for winter. As indicated in the above comparison chart between hardy and tropical water lilies, it can easily be understood why tropical water lilies should be in all water gardens throughout the US since they truly have more features than the hardy water lily in that they will out grow, make more blooms, contain the class of "night" varieties (blooms open late in the afternoon and early morning when all other water lilies are closed), outstanding attractive pad mottling, blooming fragrance, blooms in all colors of the rainbow, extremely large flowers, etc. than the hardy varieties which have their own traits and beauty.

How late in the year can the water lilies be planted? If you built your pond in the summer and are wondering how late a lily could be bought and grown depends upon your intent. Tropical water lilies typically will bloom until frost in many areas in the northern climates. So if you want blooms later in the year try the tropicals, they are known for their constant blooms! In the northern climates it is not unusual to have tropical water lilies blooming in October when autumn is approaching. Hardy water lilies can be transplanted up to the late Fall in the northern climates. The hardy varieties are beginning a dormancy in these areas by late summer. By planting a hardy in the latter part of summer you insure the next year that when "nature" is ready to stimulate growth. This method is to ensure that the plant is already in place ready for a full season of growth.

Flower Colors: The tropical water lilies come in all colors of the rainbow and are especially known for the class of blue and purple flowers that are not found in the hardy varieties (not including the ISG hardy water lilies). These colors are found in many dark to light shades with many different appearances.

Wintering Water Lilies: It is highly recommended that the attempt to winter Tropical Water Lilies in cooler climates is not advisable. As seen in the above comparison chart of Tropical vs Hardy Water Lilies, it is obvious why many customers desire to winter the magnificent and outstanding traits of a Tropical Water Lily and will select and enjoy, over the years, a multitude of different varieties. It is not uncommon for many customers to report to our establishment the amount of blooms and spectacular growth of Tropical Water Lilies each year. Night blooming water lilies, which are all Tropical Water Lilies, should be enjoyed in all water garden pools. Recall that William Tricker's first hybrids were night blooming water lilies which can be enjoyed once the day blooming tropical and hardy varieties have closed in the afternoon and early morning. Over the decades many articles and techniques on wintering Tropical Water Lilies in cooler climates have been described in garden magazines, journals, on line, etc. but are often not reproducible and met with disappointing consequences. Simply stated, most commercial establishments do not use the growing conditions found in an outdoor water garden pool as a basis for a wintering technique. Enjoy the multitude of Tropical Water Lilies as Tricker customers have been for decades throughout the entire United States. On the other hand, the Hardy variety of water lilies are relatively easy to winter but do have some set backs. The Hardy Water Lilies during the winter months in ice forming locations are wintered by not allowing the tuber/roots to be frozen. This indicates that, if ice will form deep in the water garden pool, the container that holds the roots/tuber should be lowered to a deeper section of the pool that will not freeze solid, or, if the pool will freeze solid, the container should be brought indoors, i.e. basement, and placed into a container of water keeping wet until Spring. If wintering your Hardy Water Lily you may notice, depending upon yearly growing season, the flowering ability and growth of pads changes each year, in fact, may stop blooming, become pot bound, and can be subjected to "crown rot". It is for this reason that dividing of the tuber must be monitored and done to keep the Hardy Water Lily strong and viable. Since there are a multitude of factors (soil, water quality, winter conditions, bacterial/viral/fungal infections, etc.) in wintering the hardy water lilies some hardy varieties will do better in a specific location than others. Note: This discussion of wintering is directed to the regular or standard hardy water lilies and not the newer classified ISG hardy water lilies (cross of a hardy and tropical water lily) that may or may not be treated as the regular hardy water lilies. There may, in the future, be other attributes to wintering techniques or limits that may develop over the years with this newer class of water lilies as they are grown throughout the US.

Pad Appearance: A common mistake is not to observe the pad design, color, shape, etc. When customers are able to walk through our aquatic greenhouses they not only choose a water lily by flower color, size, shape, etc. BUT also are able to observe the unusual differences in pads and add these special aquatic features to their selection! Tricker's catalog describes these beautiful pad attributes that make the water lily outstanding. For example, the mottling of the pads, with the green pads and dark color, are most pronounced in the tropical water lilies. For example, Leopardess, a well-known and popular tropical water lily, is known for the dark mottling on the pads. In 2014 the William Tricker, Inc. introduced one of the most mottled pads in the industry, Pink Sapphire. The gorgeous pink flowers of Pink Sapphire are extremely attractive against these heavily mottled pads. See image below on the right, a beautiful Pink Sapphire with heavily mottled pads. Some hardy water lilies have mottling but not as striking. See below other examples of pad attributes. Then, read about the pads when making your selection.

Water Lily Pad key to above image

1. Smooth or Entire Margin around the Pads. This water lily image is the famous Attraction, a hardy water lily. This smooth margin on the pads are found on most hardy water lilies but is also on many tropical water lilies.

2. Serrated Margin around the Pads. The serrated margin is a toothed margin and is often found in the class of tropical night bloomers such as the shown Antares. See page 1 of this newsletter and read about White Saber Tooth Water Lily, introduced this year, as an outstanding serrated margin water lily.

3. Speckled Mottled Pads. Note the speckles on each pad of the water lily Bagdad.

4. Mahogany Pads. Some pads take on a different color than the standard green, such as Red Flare with a delightful mahogany color with serrated margins.

5. Multiple Colored Pads. A rare pad is found in the pads of Arc-en-Ceil. The pads are all different with hues of pink, white, and green blotches.

6. Mottled Pads. There are many tropical water lilies with a variety of mottled pads, shown is Leopardess water lily.

7. Pink Margin around Pads. A most rare lily is Pink Halo, known for a pink margin around the forest green pads.

8. Strikingly Mottled Pads. Some pads display a great amount of mottling, such as the Pink Sapphire water lily.

9. Wavy Margins. A beautiful green pad with a wavy margin. The pad's margin does not lie totality flat on the surface of the water but will show a ripple-like effect, this pad is well represented by Mrs. C. W. Ward.