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Waterlilies: the beauty of the lake

Updated on April 8, 2010

Here is a species in which we can find many varieties, all equally beautiful and delicate; personally, I love greatly the waterlilies and, if not against the most elementary rules of garden design, I would cover the entire surface of a lake, large or small, with these incredible flowers. As you know, the waterlilies can grow in conditions of high, medium and low deep of the water, but care must be taken to choose the right model of flower, suitable for each situation. All waterlilies have floating leaves and the flowers are all of great beauty and charm, closely resembling the lotus of the East regions. I love greatly the water plants, they are so incredible: most terrestrial plants cannot tolerate having their roots submerged in wet soil or in water, but, for these water plants, these conditions are beneficial, even vital, to their survival. The waterlilies have a wide range of colors, shapes and fragrances, they bloom from the early summer until the first frosts of winter, creating very pleasant spots of colorful flowers, floating gently on the water surface. The hardy waterlilies can survive a cold winter climate, their only requirement is that they must be protected from a hard freeze during winter. All waterlilies are day blooming, their flowers open in the early morning and then close in mid to late afternoon. All waterlilies are widely used for decoration of garden ponds and, in my opinion, there are really necessary to create a water garden of great charm and grace. Most are white or pink, though a few are reddish in color, certain species are very small, miniature even, but others are very large and can be so rampant as to overtake a natural pond in few years. Some waterlilies even change color as the flower ages: most of these blossoms start light yellow, mature to a reddish-orange over the next few days and, finally, reach a darker red for the last day before fading completely.
All species of water lilies that I will mention in the article, have the following common features: all tolerate the climatic conditions of the zones 5-9, all require a position constantly exposed to sunlight and, above all, stagnant water.

-Plants for shallow-water
Because of their size, very small, dwarf or pygmy waterlilies are ideal for plants grown in shallow water (15-45 cm). Some of them are real pygmy waterlilies, other are smaller versions of traditional waterlilies. The dwarf and pygmy waterlilies should be grown in baskets or planted directly in the soil of the pond. Must have constant sunlight and the water, as for all species of waterlilies, is to be stagnant. The water depth varies by species, and then I show you the depth needed for every variety of flower. In most cases, the width of the plant corresponds to a time, or one and a half, the depth at which it grows.
Here a list including some of the most famous and beautiful varieties of dwarf and pygmy water lilies (I've chosen my favourites, please, tell me yours and your experiences):

Aurora Water Lily
This is one of the most beautiful lilies to grow in the tank, one of my favourites!
Type: Rural
Size: Small
Depth: 30-70 cm.
These are a most accommodating pond plant and are of especial benefit in providing essential Summer shade to fish, and do help keep the water ‘sweet' due to the absorption of toxins and actual water filtration provided by the underside of their leaves in Summer.
Once the cream-colored buds unfold, become cup-shaped yellow flowers; these same flowers, at the stage of maturity, go from orange to a blood red hue. One of the most fascinating factor is that  the phase of each color lasts a day. The leaves are olive green and are streaked with purple.

Candida Waterlily
This species is very beautiful, very hardy and produces a very large quantity of flowers, it is ideal for smaller or medium ponds.
Type: Rural
Size: Medium
Depth: 30-70 cm.
Its flowers are very small and shaped like a chalice, but their whiteness makes them stand out against the backdrop of the lake water; the flowers have the stamens of a brilliant gold, dotted with crimson stains.

"Caroliniana" waterlily
This waterlily is very pretty, has very fragrant flowers, deep pink, the petals are very thin, the stamens are bright yellow.
Type: Rural
Size: Small
Depth: 30-70 cm.
It is not a true dwarf or pygmy water lily, it grows well in shallow water and do not develop much rebound. Are also many popular varieties, such as the Carolinian Nivea, snow white, and the Carolinian Rosea, deep pink in color.
>Caroliniana perfecta: this was one of the first pink cultivars. The flowers are salmon-pink in color and the sepal are of the same tonality, the stamens are bright yellow; the number of its petals is up to 30 petals, and its fragrance is very sweet.
It is very suitable for medium and large pools.

"Ellisiana" waterlily
This plant blooms in shallow water, although not a pygmy or dwarf waterlily. It does not tolerate excessive heat.
Type: Rural
Size: Medium
Depth: 30-70 cm.
It has a contained extension, it is very prolific, blooms abundantly and the flowers are really beautiful, brilliant red that deepen to purple in the center, tulip-shaped or stellate shaped, with bright orange stamens;  they are quite fragrant. The new leaves are dark green with purple blotches; it performs best in cooler climates because it stops flowering in hot weather.

"Graziella" waterlily
This plant is not a dwarf waterlily but it grows well in small tanks with a little deep of the water (30 cm), but it can also grow in deeper pools. It is small, ideal for little and medium-sized lakes.
Type: Rural
Size: Small
Depth: 30-70 cm.
The flowers are deep orange in colour, shaped like a cup, the stamens are colored bright orange. The leaves are olive green with many purple spots.

"Laydekeri" species
(depth: 30 cm, but they resist with double the depth).

Laydekeri purpurata waterlily
The flowers are cup-shaped with a diameter of 13 cm. The 25 petals change color in the opening three days going from light pink to red. The petals are very particular: the tips are white, the inner rows are pinkish red, deepening, and the outer rows are slightly paler. The stamens are bright orange in colour and the leaves are green bronze, have a rounded shape and a diameter of 20 cm.  A plant can occupy a space of 1 m in diameter. This cultivar is a very reliable waterlily that I recommend for any size pool. Its very free-blooming makes this flower a great waterlily.

Laydekeri fulgens
This plant has very fragrant flowers.
It is a waterlily with many medium large ruby red or vivid burgundy-red flowers, the stamens are also reddish, or deep orange-red. The green leaves initially bronzed and flecked with purplish-brown. A medium grower that could adapt to both tubs and ponds. Situate in full sun for best results. Fertilize throughout the active growing season for optimum results.
In my opinion, this is one of the most wonderful waterlilies, it is also one of the very best bloomers, it has very large flowers and large leaves: a bed of this flowers attracts immediately the eyes of everyone. This waterlily is one of the first to bloom in spring and keeps on flowering through summer and far in autumn.

Laydekeri Alba
The flowers are cup-shaped, white, and has a scent of tea-like fragrance. Leaves are oval to round, purplish-deep green with purplish-brown splashes fading to medium green with age.

Nymphaea tetragona species
(depth: 15 cm, but they tolerate up to 30 cm of water).

Known also as "pygmy water-lily" or "small white water-lily", it is a species with many varieties. All waterlily of this species are really pigmy waterlilies and not simple specimens of dwarf size. The white to pinkish, yellow-centered, non-odorous flowers open in the afternoon and close in the evening. The leaves are green and sometimes mottled red-brown to purple above (young leaves) and green to dull purple beneath.
>Pygmaea 'Alba'
Indigenous of the northern Asia; this is the smallest. The small, slightly fragrant, star-shaped white flowers up to 5cm across with slightly scalloped petals float atop round, mid green leaves from June to September. These pygmy waterlilies will happily grow in as little as 15cm of water, and they are perfect candidates for a small pond or tub in a sheltered, sunny site. This is at all a good choice for small ponds and even sinks and tubs, this waterlily in fact needs only shallow water to cover its crown.
>Pygmaea Helvola
This dwarf waterlily is a hardy hybrid that floats its round foliage and produces a slightly fragrant, multipetaled, star-shaped yellow flower just above the water. It needs only about 3 square feet of water surface area to spread its leaves, of green olive colour. This makes it nicely suited for a small tub on a deck or sunny patio. Each mottled leaf lasts about 6 weeks before turning yellow. Flower showiness is legendary and each flower lasts several days, but flowers close in late afternoon and at night.


(All the photos in the article were not taken by me- the waterlilies in fact have not yet bloomed- but are taken here and there on the web)


Submit a Comment

  • Varenya profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago

    Many thanks Anamika, for your compliments! In fact, these are only a part of the vast family of the water lilies, because, in this hub, I've remembered only the pygmy species suited for shallow-water...

  • Anamika S profile image

    Anamika S Jain 

    8 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

    The pictures are marvelous and I absolutely love all of them. I never knew there was these many types of Waterlilies.

  • Varenya profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago

    Hi D.A.L. thanks for your comments! I'm truly glad to have added some information to your knowledge- always happy to share what I know! Best wishes to you too!

  • D.A.L. profile image


    8 years ago from Lancashire north west England

    i , what a beautiful hub with heart lifting , stunning photographs.Thank you for adding so much information to my knowledge of aquatic species. Best wishes to you.

  • Varenya profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago

    Yes, dear angel, I agree totally with you: lotus and water lilies are my favourite flowers also! They are so...supernatural, floating above the water, untouched...simply wondrous!

  • angel115707 profile image

    Angel Ward 

    8 years ago from Galveston, TX

    Lotus and water lillies are my absolute favorite flowers, nxt to roses and gardenias.

  • Varenya profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago

    I too, Dolores, love to watch them grow in the wild, in the lakes, with many ducks swimming close to them! :)

    I have just a small pond, but it is sufficient, for some of these varieties, for grow and bloom...but I must admit that it is not simple at all!

  • Varenya profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago

    Ictodd, many thanks for your comments! I must be sincere: these waterlilies are only a small part of the whole family; these are only those who grow in shallow-water, otherwise known as dwarf lilies: the only ones I can grow in my small pond!

  • Dolores Monet profile image

    Dolores Monet 

    8 years ago from East Coast, United States

    I love water lilies and love seeing them grow in the wild. It must be wonderful to grow your own!

  • lctodd1947 profile image


    8 years ago from USA

    This is breath taking also. Absoluty beautiful. I did not know there were so many water lilies. Wonderful work. I will be reading more.

  • Varenya profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago

    Yes, they have something supernatural, because of their beauty! I love greatly Monet's works, he is one of my favourite painters.

  • Trish_M profile image

    Tricia Mason 

    8 years ago from The English Midlands

    They are beautiful, aren't they! They remind me of Monet's garden :)


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