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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.

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Questions for the Week

by Jerry Parsons, Ph.D.
Horticulture Specialist, Texas Agricultural Extension Service in San Antonio

Water Lilies are very easy to grow. Under natural conditions the roots are in rich soil in the shallow water of a marsh or pond exposed to full sunshine. These conditions are easily reproduced in the garden. In natural ponds - Hardy Water Lilies may be planted in water from 6 to 18 inches deep and are planted simply by pressing the root into the good soil at the bottom. Small artificial pools should be at least 1 foot deep, allowing for 6 inches of water over 6 inches of soil.

In larger pools we always recommend the use of containers, either tubs or boxes, holding at least one bushel of soil. The depth of the water may be from 6 to 12 inches over the tub or container. Artificial pools need not be more than 24 inches deep. Twenty inches makes a satisfactory depth. The 19" plastic tubs are excellent for Lilies in pools. It is best to provide a separate container for each Water Lily or Lotus.

Do Not Drain Pool Before Planting

Prepare all the necessary containers. Place them at the proper levels and fill the pool with water. It is a very simple matter to plant Water Lilies and Aquatic Plants in the soil below the surface of the water. It is important, however, that the crown of the Water Lily (the growing end) should not be below the surface of the gravel.


The best soil for Water Lilies and Aquatic Plants is a mixture of 3
parts of good top soil and one part of thoroughly rotted cow manure - a heavy clay soil is very satisfactory. Muck from swamps, soil from woods, peat moss and sand should NOT be used in the soil.


Hardy Water Lilies may be planted quite early in the Spring,
but not until the water has warmed up so they will start immediately into new growth. Tropical Water Lilies especially should be planted in full sunshine and in a depth of water from 4 to 6 inches. Lotus can be planted in the same depth as the Tropical Lilies. Some Shallow Water Plants do best in soil just covered with water, others do best in 2 to 4 inches of water. So, a happy medium can be met by using an average depth of 3 inches.


Lotus tubers look very much like bananas. The usual cause of failure with Lotus is by careless handling of the tubers, deep planting in soil, too great a depth of water, or transplanting in cold water. They do need rich soil and plenty of room. Place the tuber in a horizontal position 2 inches below the surface of the soil and provide a depth of water 4 to 6 inches when first planted. After becoming well established the depth of water can be increased to a maximum of 12 inches. But an average depth of 8 inches of water is ideal.

Handle tubers carefully in unpacking and planting so that the growing end is not broken. Pot plants are usually obtainable late in the season and are simply tubers started into growth in pots in tanks in greenhouses and when received are planted exactly the same as Tropical Lilies by pressing the ball of earth into the soft mud to a position just below the surface of the gravel. All soil in pools should be covered with approximately 1 inch of clean gravel which prevents any particles from the soil floating into the water and discoloring it.

Choosing A Water Lily

Water Lilies are grouped into HARDY and TROPICAL varieties. One of the most common questions is what type of Water Lily should you purchase. The following chart will compare the general characteristics of the two groups of LILIES. In certain circumstances one group may be more desirable. For a listing of shade-loving water garden plants, see: