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How to Divide or Repot Water Lilies

How to Divide or Repot Water Lilies

Posted by Keith on Sep 3rd 2021

If your water lily has grown over the side of the container with roots dangling in the water, or if it is becoming difficult to apply fertilizer tablets to the aquatic pot, then it's time to divide or repot your water lily. Hardy lilies can be transplanted at any time they are actively growing.

Carefully remove the lily from the pot and remove any discolored leaves, including the stem. If a flower bud is closed, yet emits water when squeezed, it will not open again and it can be removed. Reducing the number of leaves, old flowers, and some of the excess soil/roots can make the repotting or dividing much easier.

Place the lily in the new container to its original planting level with aquatic soil or a clay-sand mix. If you are dividing an overgrown lily, carefully cut and separate the tubers with a sharp knife, similar to cutting a pie. The tuber should be 3-4" in length, with the cut end near the edge of the pot and the growing tip at a 45-degree angle above the soil. After that, just top off the lily pot with a thin layer of river rocks or pond pebbles, and then you're done!

As the year winds down, water lilies begin to go dormant for the colder months. Turns out that plants need sleep too! This means that you shouldn't fertilize them during the fall, save that for the Spring and early Summer. But this doesn't mean that it's a bad time to stock up on fertilizer, since they store very well and will be ready to go come Spring! Time-released fertilizer spikes or perhaps most convenient, the Once-A-Year Pond Pearls are great options for fertilizers.

Once you have potted the lily, carefully tilt the pot and slowly lower it into the pond. Before you submerge the lily in the pond, you can take an extra step and dunk the lily pot in a tub of water before lowing it into the pond to allow air bubbles to escape and the aquatic mix to settle around the lily tuber.

For newly divided tubers, it is best to place the lily in shallow water first, with only a few inches of water above the leaves. The leaf steams will quickly lengthen and at that time you can move the lily to deeper water.

Happy water gardening!


This article was written by Keith, our Contractor Sales Manager. Keith has decades of experience working with ponds and landscaping, and has been with Pond and Garden Depot for over ten years. He is our go-to expert for pond construction and maintenance. Keith is also a bicycle enthusiast, participating in various Century Rides and Ultra Marathons.