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Article - Dividing Water Lilies

Care and treatment of water lilies

Water Lilies - How and When to Divide and Fertilize...

While most of your ponds are slumbering in the dead of winter right now, we're going to take a look at how and when to fertilize and divide your water Lilies.

Normally a good time to do this would be in early Spring, once the pond thaws out and things are starting to warm up a bit - and before your Lilies have started growing back too much.

Dividing water Lilies - Some people would recommend dividing your water Lilies every year, but I don't think that's practical or necessary for most people (unless your pond nut like me), but after awhile you WILL have to divide your lily rhiozome as is outgrows it's current potor planting container.

A good way to determine if your water lily needs dividing is if it's not blooming or producing nearly as many pads as normal.  What can happen is the root (or rhiozome) has become so overgrown that it has essentially run out of room in the pot, and can't effectively absorb nutrients to grow.

Fortunately, it's easy to remedy this problem - and you'll most likely wind up with several new Lilies to plant, or give away to friends.

The first thing to do is to remove the pot, and dig up the rhiozome from the pot. Notice how the root has become twisted and overgrown in this example here.

All you need to do in order to refresh and invigorate the plant, is to either cut or break off and remove several sections of the root/rhiozome to create a better root to soil ratio, letting the root more effectively absorb waterborne nutrients.

As we see in the pictures below, you'll be left with several new sections or baby lilies that you can then re-plant and grow into new plants of their own.

In our next article, we'll take a look at how to fertilize your lilies (new and old) to make sure they're ready for Spring and Summer, and to make sure they'll keep blooming and growing all season long.

Once fertilized, you're ready to replant and put back in the pond.

As we can see below, it's a good idea to add some more 'fresh' soil (never potting soil), which I usually just dig up from the yard. Adding fresh soil will usually re-energize the plant, and give it some more room for it's new roots to develop. I recommend a good 2"-3" of new dirt right on top.

Similarly, with your new Rhiozome cuttings - plant them in a new container with some fresh soil on the bottom, and then covered by some more fresh dirt (around 1" for new cuttings). You can see here that I'm using a shallow planter for these, just to get them started. Once they start to grow again, I'll move them to a deeper pot with more dirt.

I've also added some gravel on top, to keep you fish from burrowing in the dirt (as koi are known to do), but only a thin layer of pea gravel -- anything too deep will make it difficult for the new lily pads to 'push' through.

On my existing lilies - I prefer to use the mesh bags for my lilies. They seem to allow a better absorption on nutrients from the pond water and I like the fact that I can cut holes in the corners, and cable tie them over the dirt - to also keep the koi from 'burrowing' in the dirt. You can find these at most nurseries and water garden centers.

Now, let's take a look at how to fertilize your water lilies...

Fertilizing Your Water Lilies