How to Plant a Water Lily in Your Pond

White water lilies.

A water lily makes an excellent addition to a pond. It not only provides a point of visual interest for your pond-scape, but it provides your fish with a little shade and protection from the sun. The best lily pad to plant in your pond, if you live in the United States or in a temperate climate, is the hardy water lily. This aquatic plant is hardy enough to survive in colder water and it doesn’t require a pond heater.

Step 1 - Select a Planting Container for Your Water Lily

The best planting container for your water lily will be shallow and wide. A good size to look for is a container that is between 6 to 10 inches deep and one that has a diameter of about 12 to 18 inches. This will give your water lily tubers plenty of room to spread out. Plastic ice cream tubs work well, as do general plastic planters.

Step 2 - Pick Soil

Since your water lily tubs are going to be submerged in water, the soil you select for your water lilies needs to be heavy. Generic garden soil works well because it tends to be heavier than bagged potting soil. You will want to avoid using bagged soil that contains peat moss, vermiculite, or perlite because these additives have a tendency to float in water.

Step 3 - Pot Your Water Lily Tubers

To pot your water lily tubers you will want to start by lining your container with burlap. This will prevent soil from seeping out of cracks and drainage holes. Next, fill the container with soil. Then press three to five aquatic plant fertilizer tablets into the soil.

Cut off dead leaves and old thick roots from the water lily plants. You will want to leave the hairlike roots and the new leaf buds that are emerging from the tuber on the plant. Plant the tuber in the prepared soil close to the side of your planting container. The growth end of the tuber needs to be pointing upwards at a 45-degree angle and face toward the center of the pot. Cover the tuber with a layer of soil. Top this layer with a fine layer of sand, gravel, and rock to prevent the soil from floating away when you submerge it.

Step 4 - Add a Water Lily to Your Pond

Submerge your potted water lily into your pond--but no deeper than 18 inches. If your pond is deeper than 18 inches, set the containers on a pile of rocks so they are positioned higher than the bottom of the pond. As you submerge your water lily, allow the container to enter the water at an angle to help air bubbles that were trapped in the soil and potting container to escape. Rest the container on the bottom of the pond or on the planting ledge that you just created. Finally, wait for the water lily to send a shooter up to the surface of the pond and bloom. Blooms will appear well into the fall.