How to Plant a Hardy Water Lily


Hardy Water Lilies come in generally 2 forms- bare root tubers or already growing in a pot (potted).

To Pot or Not To Pot  How you choose to pot or plant your lily depends upon where they will be grown.  For a pre-formed pond, patio pot / whiskey barrel, or ponds with out rocks inside of it, you probably want to plant your lily into a container.  If you have more of a natural pond with rocks and gravel you may choose to plant your water lily directly into the gravel without a pot.  Remember that the roots are what is absorbing the nutrients in the pond so keeping them in pots doesn’t really do them justice, but the choice is yours.

Planting  Bare Root Water Lilies

  1. Use a container with holes, like this planting basket. There are also fabric pots or you can use a black nursery pot. Bare root water lilies may shock a bit after planting, don’t worry, they will come back when the weather warms.
  2. Place soil-either a sandy loam mix, topsoil or aquatic planting mix (my least favorite, it can float and looks like kitty litter).  Place a couple of fertilizer tablets in the corners of the pot.  Make a slight mound and gently place tuber on top, spreading the roots out.  If you have fish you may not need to fertilize your lilies, they may feed your plants enough for adequate blooms.
  3. Cover the roots and tuber with soil and top dress with gravel.  Do not completely cover the crown (top) of the tuber.  Keep leaf stems exposed and any small indicator leaves (these are important, they tell the lily when to growing, only prune these if they are damaged)
  4. Water thoroughly, allow debris to drain before putting into the pond. Submerge the pot to a water depth of 1′ – 2.5’/3′. Plants can also be planted directly into the gravel- wash off soil from roots and then plant.

If you have any any questions please email at:  and see my other blog on Water Lily Care.  You can also stop by and see me at The Pond Pad at Alpine Nursery (253) 332-2158.

Kerri Bailey, owner of The Pond Pad, has been working with Aquatic Plants since 1989 and has worked in the horticulture & pond industry since 1998.  She has a BS in Biology and is a Certified Herbalist.




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