Creating a Gorgeous Pond With Water Lilies

A pond is a classic and beautiful accent for your yard. Whether you already have a pond or are planning to create one, you should consider adding features that add decoration and help your pond function better. Water lilies are an especially beneficial addition to your pond, as they add an amazing aesthetic as well as making your pond a healthier environment for fish. You may be surprised by how easy it is to get a pond that looks like it is straight out of a Claude Monet painting. Here's how to get great results from water lilies and other additions to your pond.

Aiding the Health of Your Pond

Water lilies help create a more suitable environment for koi or other creatures you are trying to establish in your pond. Koi fish greatly benefit from having areas to shelter in. Not only do shady spots help keep them cool, but aquatic foliage mimics a natural environment for them. Foliage provides a safe haven for smaller fish and creates a more comfortable habitat for larger ones. Aquatic plants can also help sustain a healthy pond by acting as a natural filtration system for the water by soaking up excess nutrients that cause algae bloom. The added shade also reduces algae growth, keeping everything cleaner in general.

Water lilies are safe for fish and are not generally considered to be poisonous like land-growing lilies. You should be mindful of pets such as dogs as cats though, as some species of water lily may still be toxic when ingested and can pose a risk to curious critters.

Choosing Lilies

Water lilies belong to the genus nymphaea. Many varieties of these beautiful flowers have been cultivated and bred into the varieties you commonly see decorating water gardens, while others occur naturally as they are in the wild. There are 74 known species belonging to the group, nymphaeales, all growing in freshwater. While some species may grow and bloom completely underwater, the classic lily pad that floats on the surface comes in its own array of varieties that range greatly in size and color. Two types of water lilies that are common and tend to do quite well in ponds are known as hardy water lilies and tropical water lilies.

Hardy water lilies have waxy-looking leaves that are tough enough to withstand some currents or even waves. They need some space to spread out, but once they have established themselves they often produce beautiful flowers held high above the water in the spring and summer months. Their blossoms are magnificent, opening up in the daytime hours and closing at night. Tropical lilies tend to be more fragrant and may be slightly more fragile than hardy lilies. They are also slightly different in that they come in both night-blooming and day-blooming varieties. You should keep in mind that tropical lilies tend to take more effort to maintain. They also benefit from warmer water temperatures.

Establishing Lilies

Lilies can be easily planted in the bottom of your pond by placing them in a pot with no holes in the bottom and submerging the pot beneath the water. Keep in mind that fertilizers can be harmful to both lilies and fish, so you should only use plain soil when planting the lilies. You may want to add a layer of gravel to the top of your pot to keep everything better anchored once it has been placed. An alternative option to pots can be planting the lilies directly in pockets at the bottom of your pond. Both of the lilies discussed above can grow well in pond water and can be successfully planted and maintained in many parts of North America.

Lilies benefit from receiving a lot of sun. If you live in an area that experiences cold winters, hardy lilies will noticeably die-off as the weather starts to cool; however, as long as the lower stems and roots are buried well enough to avoid freezing, you should notice quick regrowth in the spring that refills your pond with floating leaves and flowers. If you are growing tropical lilies, you may need to remove the tubers of the lilies in the fall and replant them in the spring in order for them to survive. In warm or temperate areas, lilies may stay alive and thriving all year long. Water lilies do best when planted in ponds that have already been established. If you are curious, you can find more information about how to properly care for them by consulting

Adding Other Accents

Lilies do best in still water, but they can still be used alongside water accents such as gentle water fountains or falls as long as they are planted strategically. Keep in mind that extreme currents or gushing water may stunt the growth of your lilies and cause them to struggle. Avoid trying to plant directly in a current. Lilies generally grow into the space they are planted, making them a good option for both large and small ponds as they self-adjust to fit.

While lilies may be among the most popular aquatic plants for ponds, there are a large variety of other options that you may also consider. While some of these may work alongside lilies, you should ensure that you are not overplanting your pond and causing your plants to outcompete each other. Horsetail reeds and Creeping Jenny may be good options to use around the edges of your pond to add more fullness to the shoreline. You should maintain them and trim them back periodically to prevent them from taking over.

Accenting Your Pond With Lilies

Water lilies are a popular choice for a reason. They help make the pond a better environment for fish while also keeping things clean. They are also a very suitable plant for beginners, especially when the hardy variety is selected. With proper care, most lilies can thrive for many years and continue to beautify your pond with big, bold blooms that pop up during the whole spring and summer. If you've been considering adding plants to your pond, water lilies are a great place to start. Start looking into lilies at to begin growing magnificent flowers.

A Guide To Adding Water Lilies to Your Backyard Pond

Are you doing some summer landscaping? Water features are increasingly popular for creating gorgeous lawns that you'll want to spend hours relaxing in. Many people even add koi ponds as a way to create interest in their space and even have outdoor "pets." Of course, koi fish need the right environment to thrive in, and that means water plants. Hardy water lilies (genus nymphaea) are an excellent choice. They thrive in nearly any environment, create purple-flowered lily pads, and are quite easy to take care of. All you need is a bit of guidance to get started!

Benefits of Adding Water Lilies to Your Pond

Adding water lilies to your koi pond is beneficial for several reasons, and not lease of all is because these floating plants are animal- and fish-friendly. Although typically planted during warmer months, water lilies can live through a wide variety of temperatures and weather patterns, making them a popular choice for all regions of North America. Additionally, because they cover much of the water's surface, lilies are perfect for sheltering your koi from the sun's heat and birds or other natural predators. Finally, the lilies have gorgeous purple flowers that add beauty to your landscape.

How To Plant Water Lilies

Proper planting is essential if you want your water lilies to thrive. Water lilies grow quickly and need to be planted in the largest pot you can find to avoid stunted growth. If you're planting different varieties of the lilies, consider flexible aquatic planters for the best results.

The right soil and fertilizer are just as important as the pots you use. Water lilies prefer heavy soil or pure clay, although a clay topsoil mixture is also acceptable. Avoid pea gravel, which provides a chance for the fertilizer to leach into the pond water and cause algae on the bottom. Use a special aquatic plant fertilizer with a higher amount of phosphorus for rooting and forming buds. Fertilization should occur as soon as you see the first few leaves on the water, usually in the early spring.

The planting process is quite simple. Fill the bottom third of the post with soil, packing it down tightly as you go. Add fertilizer, then place the lily's roots into the bottom of the pot. Position the tuber at the pot's edge and aim the growing tip toward the center of it. Fill in the pot just past three-quarters full with more soil, tightly packing as you go. Top it off with gravel, which prevents fish from getting into the soil and causing cloudy water. Finally, slowly sink the pot into the water until the top is even with the water level. After a couple of minutes, air pockets will escape, at which point you can put the pot into its final position.

Caring for the Lilies in Your Koi Pond

You'll need to provide regular care for your water lilies after you plant them. The most important thing you can do for your plants it to remove any old leaves and roots as needed each season. During spring and summer months, provide fertilizer at least once a month, and use fabric mesh over the top of the pot to keep any exposed roots safe. Keep in mind that your lilies need at least eight hours of sun each day, so ensure you plant them in spots that get plenty of natural light. Finally, remove yellow leaves as needed and cut off older leaves to the tuber before the first frost each winter. When properly cared for, you can keep your water lilies in the pond even during the winter months and rest assured they'll bloom just as beautifully the next season.

How To Keep Koi From Eating Your Water Lilies

One problem you could see if you put water lilies in your koi pond is the tendency for the fish to try to eat them. For this reason, you'll need to take preventative measures. Perhaps the easiest one is to increase the quality of the food you provide and how often you give it to your koi. Purchase a high-quality food that provides the nutrients your current feed may be missing, or if their nutrient take is already good, switch to one with more wheatgerm, which will keep them feeling full for longer. You can also feed them more often, but remember not to give more than they can eat in a five-minute span. Otherwise, they won't eat it and it will settle into the bottom of the pond.

You can also purchase koi plant protectors. These bag-like structures are made of mesh and are open at the top. The weighted bases are narrow, which keeps fish from being able to make their way in to eat the roots of your lilies. The top is still open enough that your lilies can flourish without being fed on.

What To Do if Lilies Become Overgrown

The downside of protecting your water lilies from your koi is that the plants may start to become overcrowded. You'll need to take special measures if this happens. When lilies begin to grow on top of each other, it prevents oxygenation, which can suffocate the plants and even your fish. In fact, if you have koi, at least 30% of your pond should be free of plants altogether. If your plants are too crowded in their pots, you'll need to divide them. However, if you just need to thin the leaves, you can use a sharp set of plant nippers to do it. Cut about one-third of the leaves from each plant, reaching as far under the surface of the water as you can. Start with yellowing ones before moving onto healthier leaves. This method will help your lilies to create even more beautiful blooms for your water garden.

Claude Monet famously painted "The Water Lily Pond" in 1899. Chalily can help you bring that painting to life in your own backyard. Our professionals can answer questions and even help you design, construct, and maintain your lily pond. Contact us today to learn more about our water gardens and how we can help you!

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14430 Manchester Rd, St. Louis, MO 63011
1/2mi West of HWY141, across from Kohl's

(636) 527-2001