Nymphaea Water

The Water Lily is the unchallenged Queen of aquatic plants, and every pond owner either has or wants one. The value of the hardy Water Lity lies not onty in the beauty ol its cup-shaped or star-shaped blooms — the round or heart-shaped leaves ( pads') help to keep the fish happy and the water clear

It is a fascinating plant with a number of surprises for all and an equal number of pitfalls for the novice. The first surprise for the beginner is the enormous range of flower size, leaf size, leaf spread and planting depth. The Dwarfs (Miniatures) with 1 in. wide leaves covering about 1 sq.ft of pond surface and bearing medal-sized flowers are an excellent choice for a minipond made from a half-barrel. At the other end of the scale there are the Vigorous varieties with leaves measuring more than 8 in. across which blanket 50 sq.ft or more and produce blooms the size of dinner plates.

The golden rule Is never to buy a Water Lily just because the picture looks nice and it costs less than the others on show. You should measure the size of your pond surface and then aim to buy one or more specimens with an anticipated total spread of no more than half of the pond surface. And never be guided by the price — the ones which are far too vigorous for the average pond actually cost less than the more com pact ones which do not look value for money.

To make selection easier it is usual to group Water Lilies into a small number of Types — Dwarf. Medium etc. All you have to do is to choose the Type with the right planting depth and anticipated spread for your needs and then find a variety In that Type with a shape and colour which you find attractive. The time of flowering does not come into the selection as all Water Lilies behave more or less the same. Blooming starts in June and the flowers appear in succession until September. Each bloom opens from late morning to late afternoon and lasts for about four days.

Unfortunatety this division into Types and the naming of Water Lilies arenot as straightforward as they sound The final spread depends on many factors and the figures given in the catalogue are only a guide — Water Lilies do not fall neatly into groups and so can't easily be pigeonholed. There is also much confusion over naming — one man's so-called 'Sunrise' may be quite different to another supplier's offering! Searing in mind the difficulties. the Type grouping given below is as good as any. Now for one of the surprises. Most of the scores of varieties on offer today camefrom the breeding work of a Frenchman — M. Joseph Bory Latour-Mariiac. The first one appeared in 187T but unfortunately his secrets died with him in 1911 Because of this the majority of the Water Lily varieties in the catalogues are more than 80 years old! New American varieties are now beginning to appear, but Latour-Mariiac hybrids still dominate. Now for the planting rules. May and June are the best months and you will need a sunny spot and still water. Remove old leaves from the rootstock and trim back the fibrous roots. Plant firmly (see page 68) so that the crown is just protruding above the surface. Submerge the basket so that the young leaves float on the surface — gradually lower to thefinal depth as the leaves grow. This may take several months.

There are two reasons why leaves may grow well above the surface. The first cause is that the water is too shallow — the other cause is that the plant needs repotting in new soil and perhaps a larger basket. This is to be expected three or lour years after planting. For details of propagation see page 94.

Type

Planting Depth

Spread

Cover

Flower Slw

DWARF

4-10 In.

1-2 ft

1-3 sq.ft

2-4 In.

SMALL

6 ln.-1V4 ft

2-4 ft

3-12 sq.ft

4-6 In.

MEDIUM

1-2 ft

4-5 ft

12-20 sq.ft

6-7 In.

VIGOROUS

1Wt-3 ft

5-8 ft

20-50 sq.ft

7-10 In.

Colours: The colour range is large — only black, purple, pure blue and green are missing. The Changeables alter with age, deepening from cream or yellow to orange or red.

SMALL

W Firecresl'

MEDIUM

N. Sunrise'

DWARF

N Paul Hafk*

SMALL

W Firecresl'

MEDIUM

N. Sunrise'

VIGOROUS

N 'Gladslontana

' Variety Colour Description

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