How to plant a water lily

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
To do
To do

Do not To do in January

Do not To do in February

Do not To do in March

Do not To do in April

Do To do in May

Do To do in June

Do To do in July

Do not To do in August

Do not To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do not To do in November

Do not To do in December

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



Total time:

Step 1

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


Step 2

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


Step 3

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


Step 4

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