Waterlily leaf standing above water

Did your waterlily leaves stand high above the water last Summer?

Now is the time of year to do something about this. The waterlily in your pond should have started to send up ‘rolled’ or ‘furled’ leaves that are still traveling to the water surface so act now before the stems get too long.

Last year the waterlily plant was trying to tell you it needs to be divided as it is too congested. To remember which plant it was I hope you took a photo last year so that you can lift or prune the correct basket this Spring!

If you can lift the waterlily basket then you can replant it into a larger basket with aquatic compost and feed tabs. See our method in Tips and Advice.

A waterlily is a hungry plant and its roots will have grown through the mesh basket and out across the base of the pond searching for nutrients to feed on. A waterlily root span will be as wide as its top growth spread on the water surface.

This will make the basket heavy to lift and move. It may be easier to leave the basket in place and thin out the rhizome growth using a sharp knife.

We detail ‘Pruning a waterlily’ in our Tips and Advice pages and you will realize that the pieces you cut off a mature plant can be potted up as if you had lifted the basket to divide the crowns. Use the instructions on the same Tips and Advice page to make more plants for yourself or for someone else.

Cut back the mature plant now that it is starting to shoot, start some new baskets growing from the pieces of rhizome removed and leave the mature plant in the pond too. Over time you will be able to replace the unmanageable mature plant with several of the new smaller baskets of repotted rhizomes.

Reducing the size and spread of the mature waterlily you have is more successful than trying to lift it out and then replacing it with a young waterlily of comparatively limited growth. Even after pruning you need to be able to cover 50% of your pond surface area in this season (with the leaves that will lie down now on the surface) aiming for 60-70% coverage in the years that follow.

Your pond will get a shock with all the extra water exposed to sunshine if you make too dramatic a change and green algae could well be the result.

Miniature and dwarf waterlilies will not need dividing or pruning in the same way that larger pond waterlilies do but all waterlilies will benefit from a feed tab now (or more than one in a larger basket) so that they get the nutrient to flower well this Summer.

For more detailed information on Maintaining your waterlilies please read our Tips and Advice pages.