Saturday, October 19, 2013


With the many new gardening possibilities my new domicile offers, I am of course already hatching plans for all sorts of plant-related projects. One of those is to grow some small tropical waterlilies (Nymphaea sp.) in nice containers, to adorn the balcony in summer and perhaps even the sun room in winter. I have seen a lot of this done in South and Southeast Asia, for instance in Thailand as I described here, or in Malaysia and India in the pictures below:

A white one at the royal museum in Klang, Malaysia...

... And some pink and purple ones in the same garden

Another one found last January in the roof garden of a guest house in Varanasi, India, a bit bedraggled by winter cold and perhaps neglect, but still producing flower buds

Obviously I will have to go even a bit smaller than at least the first two examples, but hopefully that will not be a deal breaker. Now, if anyone has experience with this, I have some questions:

What species or varieties of Nymphaea should I give a try? My online research so far suggests that Nymphaea x daubenyana, also known as Nymphaea x daubeniana or Nymphaea 'Dauben', is my best bet, since apparently it will adapt to different pond or container sizes, can grow in very shallow water, and will still flower under less than ideal conditions, such as in a bit of shade or cooler temperatures. Does anyone have other suggestions? Something showier in terms of flower color and shape, perhaps, but still as small and tough?

Secondly, from where should I order my plants? I found a number of potential purveyors online, but would love any recommendations or warnings from anyone who has experience ordering these sort of plants in the United States.



  1. Don't have answers but I will definitely be looking forward to a follow up post on this 'cos I have always wanted to grow water lilies. Sure do hope your get your questions answered.

  2. Perhaps one of your local master gardeners or garden centres can help you to find suitable plants for your water feature. Please be aware of mosquitoes, they love water too. A few years ago I installed a small pond in our Toronto garden. Added some nice fish and water lilies for the enjoyment of the local raccoon family. After trying to fight the smart critters I finally gave up. The pond was filled in and now features lovely herbs and wildflowers.
    Have fun,

    1. Well, hopefully mine will be well out of the reach of raccoons, but the mosquitoes are something to think about...

  3. I have a 24" diameter bowl planted with Helvola lily - it is a hardy dwarf that has beautifully filled out the bowl in a few months, and bloomed non-stop until just a couple of weeks ago as the weather began to cool. I got it from, Bonnie herself has great communication with her buyers. The lily was tiny at first but quickly took off and I will have to divide next spring. It does prefer a sunny location though, mine bloomed well on 5-6 hours of direct sun. The flowers are a beautiful creamy yellow about 2" diameter, the leaves are mottled and just a bit larger than that. Will do great in a container under 2' depth.


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