Vrinda Kumble takes a look at how best water lilies can adapt to your home pond
The water lily is the queen of the water garden. The classic pink lotus —our national flower — is too big for a mini-pond. But there is a whole range of water lilies that can be adapted to the size of your pond. The flowers come in many colours — pure white, yellow, peach, pink, blue, deep red, purple — and many sizes, from 2 inches to 5 or 6 inches across.
There are also night-blooming water lilies, which open around dusk and stay open until about 11 o’clock the next morning. Get an idea of what you would like by visiting a nursery or, better still, a friend who grows these lovely flowers and may be willing to share them with you.
In small pots
Plant the water lily in a small pot that will fit comfortably inside your mini-pond, rather than directly in the pond. The small pot is easier to handle when you need to repot or move the plant.
Place a shard over the hole in the pot so that the soil does not flow out. You can also use the take-out food plastic containers that are shaped like small flower pots, at least 5 inches wide and 6 inches deep. Punch a couple of small holes in the bottom and use just like a regular flower pot.
Fill the pot with soil mixed with a little manure and plant the lily bulb in it so that the growing central bud is above the soil. Weigh down the soil around the plant with gravel, small stones, or pieces of tile to keep the plant from floating out of the pot. Again, take care not to cover the growing tip.
Fill the mini-pond with water and carefully lower the water lily pot into it. The lily leaves should always float on the surface of the water. If need be, place the pot on bricks to raise it to the right level. You can remove the bricks as the plant grows.
Add a few fish to the water to stop mosquitoes from breeding in it. Also add some submerged oxygenating plants to the pond to keep the water clean and clear. (You can get these in an aquarium supply shop.) If slimy algae grows in the water, scoop out and throw it away.
Cut off dead leaves and flowers regularly to keep your lily plants looking fresh and attractive. They will reward you by flowering almost continuously through the year, except in very cloudy weather if they go for days without direct sun.
(Look out for information on Bog plants in our next edition)