Container gardening: Potting water lilies

Follow these simple guidelines when potting water lilies


Purple water lily
  • Wide, shallow containers with perforated sides and bottoms are best. Plastic cool drink crates are an economical option or buy commercial plastic-mesh baskets.
  • Line your container with hessian to contain the soil. Fill it with good potting soil, mixed with a little manure, some compost and bone meal. Moisten this before planting the water lily or a couple of rhizomes from an existing plant; remove any old or damaged leaves which could rot and foul the water.
  • Leave a space of 5cm at the top of the container.
  • Pack a generous quantity of gravel chips or pebbles on top of the soil to prevent it from floating to the surface and muddying the water.
  • Water thoroughly to remove air bubbles before lowering it into the pond.
  • The base of the pot doesn’t have to be on the bottom of the pond. In deep ponds, place containers on bricks so the leaves just reach the surface of the water and the crown of the plant remains 30–45cm below the surface. As new leaves with longer stems develop, remove a few bricks at a time until it’s resting on the bottom of the pond.
  • Feed your plants during summer with special water plant plugs, which are available at most nurseries.