How to plant a water lily

Do it:

May, Jun, Jul

Takes just:

20 minutes

Elegant and stately, water lilies (Nymphaea sp.) can be the crowning glory of a garden pond.

When buying water lilies, look for those plants that have shoots emerging from the rhizome and wait until the pond has warmed up before potting or planting. When potting, it's important to use an aquatic basket to contain vigorous growth and to use specialised aquatic soil or John Innes No 2. Avoid rich composts that will encourage the growth of unsightly green algae, or organic composts that float away.

Don't forget that water lily leaves will rot if submerged too deeply, too soon, so gradually lower the pot to the pond's bottom, as the leaves extend towards the surface.

Find out how to plant and establish your water lily, below.

You will need

Water lily rhizomes

Mesh aquatic basket


Aquatic soil

Large stones



Use a mesh aquatic basket lined with hessian to stop the compost escaping. Part fill with aquatic soil.

Tease out the fleshy roots before placing the plant in the centre of the container, then firm the soil.

Mulch with large stones to keep the compost from floating off. Soak the basket in water.

Place the basket in the pond on a platform of bricks, gradually reducing its height over weeks.


Discover more ideas and inspiration

Related content

Hellebore and carex pot display

Sweet pea pot display

How to plant heleniums

Related offers

SAVE 20%

Subscriber only content

Save at Blooming Direct

Get an exclusive 20% off everything at Blooming Direct, including roses, shrubs, grow-your-own fruit and veg, bedding, bulbs, a range of accessories and more.

Unlock now


Four clematis for £9.95

Autumn is a great time to plant clematis. Buy this collection of four gorgeous award-winning varieties for just £9.95. You'll also get free p&p with this offer.

Order now


Free p&p on tulips

Offer extended - You'll get free p&p, worth £4.95, on beautiful tulip collections at Sarah Raven when you enter our offer code at checkout. Offer ends at midnight on Tuesday 31 October, 2017.

Use code: GW17WSEPT

Order now