Dazzling jewel of the pond

BECKONING blooms They flower all through the year

BECKONING blooms They flower all through the year   | Photo Credit: Photo: K. ANANTHAN

Water lily is a beautiful aquatic plant

An ornamental pond is rewarding and among aquatic plants, water lily is the prettiest. With its floating, waxy, disc-shaped leaves and vibrant flowers, the water lily is eye-catching. Small or large ponds can house these water plants. The plant, popularly known as ‘Ambal’ in South India, is scientifically – Nymphaea Alba - which belongs to Nymphaeceae, an aquatic flowering plant family.

Many hybrids have been developed in all sizes and hues such as white, rose, saffron, yellow, purple and vermilion.

The tropical hybrid varieties are day bloomers, opening with the rising sun, whereas the local varieties open after sunset and bloom fully only in the night. The leaves are attached to flexible underwater stalks, rising from thick fleshy rhizomes. They vary in size and shape and play a vital role in reducing the amount of algae in ponds by shading the surface and preventing light.

They also provide a hiding place for fish. Showy flowers rise on long, solitary stalks and are borne at the surface of the water or jut slightly above it.

Some varieties have flat flower surface and some others like the whites have ‘well’ shaped flowers and a few are fragrant too.

After the flower droops, the stalk forms a spiral and draws the fruit below the water. Water lily is ideal for cultivation in ornamental ponds and containers which can hold a minimum of four to five litres of water and with a depth of two feet. This plant produces leaves and flowers on the water surface from an underground rhizome, which is fully submerged in the pond bottom bed.

Rhizome segments with new sprouts as well as seeds are used as planting material. Garden ponds or stagnant water bodies with a sunny ambience can be used to grow the plant.

Fill the bottom of the pond or tub meant for the purpose with good quality garden loam or aquatic compost.

Water lily should be planted with the growing point of the rhizome at soil level.

One has to finish with a thin layer of gravel over the surface to prevent the soil from washing out. Tiny seeds formed in the fruit take about 30 to 40 days to mature.

When fully ripe, the outer covering of the seed acquires a dark shade. Seeds on dehiscence sink to the bottom of the pond where they germinate and grow into baby plants.

These baby plants are also used for propagation. After planting, it takes about three to four months for the water lily to produce flowers after which it blooms all through the year.

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