My water lily just won't bloom

(karen) Little Rock, AR(Zone 7b)

Hey guys I'm hoping you can give me some advice. I have a water lily that is about two seasons old, this year will be the third one in the pond. I have no idea what kind it is - I bought it from Lowe's so nothing fancy. It has beautiful foliage and I can already see leaves growing in the pot this year. Problem is it has NEVER bloomed. Last year I added a couple of those tablets you can buy for pond plants but still no flowers. Should I try repotting this plant or is there a trick to getting blooms that I don't know about? How long should it take to see blooms on these? Here's a picture from last year - this was pretty early in the year and by the end of the year the foliage was much larger. Thanks for any advice you can give me.

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San Antonio, TX

Very pretty pond & I'm looking forward to the answer as I have the same problem. Your leaves are ahead of mine but mine are coming up - also bought at Lowe's and didn't bloom last year so I'm hopeful this year. Maybe someone has a good suggestion. I wonder if it could be that there's not enough sun? Mine gets about a half a day, maybe that's not enough. Just wondering.

Phoenix, AZ

Looks from the pic like a shady spot. They need SUN to bloom.

Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

I don't worry about fertilizing because the fish fertilize for me. However, your pond tablets may be high in nitrogen, so that all the foliage plants are doing beautifully. Also, you might check the ph of your water.

When I moved into this house, the previous owner had a water lily in the pond with no pot, so I think you'll have to identify it and check with a wet landscaper. When I buy pond plants that float, they do not come in a pot. The seller just pulls them from his pond, puts them in a plastic bag and sends me on my way. When I purchased a water lily kit at a regular garden center, I followed the directions and ended up with nothing. For indoor pond plants (during the winter), I use a 6-inch diameter sewage connector from the hardware store to keep the plants upright, in place and to protect from the fish. I don't know if this helps.

Raleigh, NC(Zone 8a)

Definitely looks to be too shaded/covered, and as Fish said ... they need a fair amount of sun to bloom.

(karen) Little Rock, AR(Zone 7b)

There is an althea bush to the west of this pond but it should be getting 4 or 5 hours of sun a day in the center of the pond. I'll watch it and try to see exactly how much it is getting once the leaves are on the trees. This photo was from last year it is just barely up out of the pot at this point. Thanks for the help.

Cathy - I guess I am confused about the no pot situation - would the plant just be sitting with no dirt on the bottom of the pond?

Mine flower from May to early October. My waterlilies are potted - I cannot imagine not having them in pot. With pots, you have better control over your waterlilies. I would be afraid of the waterlilies taking over the whole bottom of my pond if they were not contained - I know they are not as prolific as the lotus, but I don't want to take the chance. Additionally, this would pose a problem when I vacuum my pond in the Spring and the Fall.

Waterlilies will need fertilizing every year - they are heavy feeders and division every couple of years - I divide every other year. I tried not fertilizing last year to see what would happen and I did not have nearly the same lilypad coverage or flowers. Cathy mentioned fertilizers high in nitrogen producing more leaves than flowers - she is correct. You want a higher middle number in your fertilizer formula to ensure more flowers.

Fish Knees is right - Waterlilites need SUN to flower - at least 6 hours of sun. Waterlilies will start flowering when your water temps are about 65 degrees. How much sunlight does your pond get?

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Wells, TX(Zone 8b)

its funny both the problem lilies should come from Lowes. I decided I was going to have a water lilly in a large container since I dont have a wter garden yet. I bought one at Lowes.. they showed it in a large pot on a deck in the picture on the box.. I get it home and look it up on Plant files... it has a 6ft spread.. its not a dwarf for pots..its for Large ponds..I check all of what they are carrying and they are all the same.. no dwarfs... so I take it back, Then I call corporate and have a long talk with them about the way the vendor is misreprensing stuff and setting people up to fail.. I told them that they needed to hire EDUCATED buyers when it came to stuff like this.. the guy I talked to turned me over to a higher up and he was very interested in what I was saying (thats a first)..

Raleigh, NC(Zone 8a)

I hope my water lilies look like yours this summer, Carolyn. Mine just started sending up pads in the last week, so I'm anxious to see what it does this summer.

I also have a couple lotus seeds I received from a most generous DGer last fall. I'm soaking two of them now to get them going and see how they do. One is cracking open and I can see green inside, which makes me most happy.


Let us know what happens with your lotus seedlings... They are fascinating aren't they?

Raleigh, NC(Zone 8a)

I am excited! Just woke up, and saw the little darlings sticking their green tongues out at eachother! LOL

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Deer Park, IL(Zone 5b)

Kjuddy: Very pretty pond. Before I read all the other posts regarding their opinions I thought it was too shady in the picture. Everything looks very green and lush. The waterlilly leaves are smallish but without knowing exactly what you bought it's hard to know the problem. There are waterlillys that can bloom with less than full day of sun but you need to do some research on that. Some lillys bloom more than other types and earlier in the season (which is especially nice for zone 5a and colder-at least we have a chance to get a bloom or two or three . . . LOL!

Cathy: Your post made me confused. Either I am up way past my bedtime or we speak a different language about pond plants. Wet landscaper? No pots? I have mine in pots and one that fell out of a pot-both bloom and one is from Lowes. Most of mine are from TWL. Texas Water Lilys has great information on their website. We do see eye to eye on the middle number of the fertilizer tab being the highest number of the three. If you read this please explain in more detail what you meant-I'd like to hear more (maybe I am missing the boat on updated info regarding pond plants)! :)

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

If hostas are doing well around the pond, there is too much shade for the lily.

Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

Mothermole, sorry for the confusion. "Wet landscaper" was my own speak for a professional who installs and maintains water gardens, which are pretty popular in southern Connecticut. They are generally open to the public and sell plants and fish. Around here landscapers do not do water gardens and seldom carry wetlands plants. One local nursery stopped carrying water plants because of the snakes that got into his pool. I've since found places to get plants much cheaper.

Certain plants are sold in pots, while others are put into plastic bags. Water clover and dwarf sweet iris are sold in pots. When I bought the floating water hyacinths and water lettuce, they fished them out of their ponds and put them in plastic bags. Last summer when I bought a papyrus, that seller also fished it out of the pond and put it in a plastic bag. Since I could not afford the water lilies and lotus plants, I just took a shot that since they seem to be floaters they might not be in pots. I have to tie some of the plants in netting to contain the pots under water.

When I moved into my home 5 years ago, there was a very pretty water lily in the pond, but I don't remember seeing a pot or the plant after the first year.

I can't wait till it is warm enough to put out the warm weather plants!

Deer Park, IL(Zone 5b)

Very interesting information. Funny how things are so different from one location to another. Try Texas Water Lillies (twl) in the future for you pond plants. Way cheaper! At least look at twl's prices for retail and wholesale and you will see that their retail prices are great.Their plants are great as well!

(karen) Little Rock, AR(Zone 7b)

Okay I looked this up and the lily is a 'fabiola' - I wonder why I never thought about how much sun it was getting. I guess because to me it seems to be mostly in the sun. One side of the pond is under an althea tree but the other side seemed sunny, however, I'm thinking that could be the trouble. I guess if I want waterlily blooms I'll have to work on the shade issue:) Also I see that there are some types that will bloom in some shade so maybe I need to get one of those.

Thanks again guys for all your help.

Winston Salem, NC koi eat water liliy roots?

Thanks if you can advise. (what to do)?

Deer Park, IL(Zone 5b)

Mine don't but I read here all the time about koi rummaging through the planter baskets making a mess so they might eat them. However, my dog eats lotus roots and will stop at nothing to eat them . . .

Mine don't either, but again as Linda states, I have read about those that do have the problem.

Richmond, VA(Zone 7a)

So I read that water lilies like still water, so not near a waterfall. I bought mine from Lowes last summer and placed them at the oposite end from my waterfall (about 5' away) and they bloomed. I do get a ton of sun so I'm sure that helped.

Raleigh, NC(Zone 8a)

I read the same about movement but didn't have much choice but to have it near movement due to the size of my pond (not reaaly big). But mine also bloomed. I think sun is the key.

Deer Park, IL(Zone 5b)

My lilies are near water movement and bloom but the movement is minimal. Also, hostas "in" the pond do fine in sun. I experimented with a bunch of different hostas from around my yard and they were great 1st year filler plants. I tucked them in and around the edge of the pond and they were in full sun. I don't know what kind of hostas they were-I inherited them with the purchase of the house!

Parkville, MD

Don't buy water lilies from lowes ,go to a water garden center or better yet look for a pond supply , even some aquarium stores sell pond plants. You can even order them on line. When a water lily comes in a bag , you are supposed to go home and Pot it. with water lily clay or soil and put little pebbles on top of that. you should fertilize your lily s at least every 4 weeks during growing season. my lily's come back each year an will be in bloom in a few weeks I am zone 7 too. throw away your lily in the compost and start over. look on line for directions on potting lily s. also lily's like standing water , so plant away from the waterfalls.

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(karen) Little Rock, AR(Zone 7b)

This lily is potted up not in the net bag it came in. I trimmed back the althea above it and moved some things around trying to give it more sun and I gave it a good dose of fertilizer as well as splitting it, so we'll see if it blooms after that. If not I won't get rid of it because I still like the way it looks in the pond. Thanks everyone for the advice.

Scottsdale, AZ(Zone 9b)

my pond is in full arizona sun. One year none of my lillies bloomed(neither the lillies of my friends). It turns out that the water that year did not get hot enough for them to trigger flowers. Your looks healthy. perhaps as the summer continues, yours will bloom later in season compared to our AZ season. Mine have just started to bloom--it is very hot here now.

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(karen) Little Rock, AR(Zone 7b)

Just an update here I cut down my althea tree this spring because it was making a mess in the pond. All those flowers all summer long just made a huge mess plus it was too close to the pond to grow properly. And then guess what after years with no blooms I came home Monday to my FIRST EVER Waterlily bloom.

Color me excited - I think maybe it wasn't getting enough sun:/ I should have known you experts knew the answer all along!

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Scottsdale, AZ(Zone 9b)

that is AWESOME. enjoy the flowers.


Congrats! That is exciting.

Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

KJ I just love that! Sometimes the simplest things....

(karen) Little Rock, AR(Zone 7b)

Thanks I am enjoying it but I had no idea they closed at night I went out there Monday night and it had disappeared then I realized it was just closed. - ahhh always something new to learn:)

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Hey Carolyn. those fertilizer spikes you recommended. I got them last fall so I would be ready. When I took them out of the blister pack, each stake was tightly enclosed in a plastic wrapper. I tried to take them off but decided they were supposed to stay on and maybe dissolve. Is that how yours work?


I always take off the little plastic sleeve. There is also a little black round sticker at the top that I take off. I just assumed it was supposed to come off, but as I think about it - I think it has to come off so the fertilizer disolves through the holes in the spikes.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Crumb. They don't mention the clear plastic either way. That's what I though too. How was the fertilizer supposed to come out. I will fish out a few and see what happened. Surely hope the plastic dissolved. I figured the fertilizer is a times release and it would leach out through the little holes. You can see the fertilizer pellets in there and they are rather small, sort of like osmocote but much smaller.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I finally found the instructions. I feel like an idiot. They printed the 'remove clear plastic cover' in very light ink UNDER the spikes. I never even saw that. Crumb. Guess I better get them out and dig out the spikes. Probably no loss in time. We are sitting at 32F this morning so the water isn't all that warm. There is a little growth from what the plants could pick up from the water. Oh. I saw one instruction that said to push the spikes in 'up to the plastic cap so I am thinking that the plastic cap is supposed to remain on.

Yes, Mary - I leave the plastic cap on, but I take off the little round sticker on the top of the plastic cap. I don't push the spikes in all the way to the top because my pots are not deep enough for me to do this. I do push the spike in as far as it will go and the holes in the spike are generally buried into the pot.

I never saw the instructions either....

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Okay. I get it. I have one shallow pot also and sort of pushed it in at a slight angle to get it all under the gravel. Well, out into the pond. Yuk. It is collllllldddd today. :)

Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

Mary, is it seasonably cold for you or are you having screwy weather?

Despite reading directions (or trying), it is not unusual to mess up with a new product. My best is knowing the plastic needs to come off and being unable to even poke a hole in it :)

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Well, last year was cool like this off and on all summer. So this isn't unusual per se. But we have had much nicer springs than this. I do hope it warms up for my plants sake.

Deer Park, IL(Zone 5b)

Carolyn I really love your waterlily picture-what kind is it? Also, I posted last year that my koi don't eat my lilys well that was last year . . . this year all the basket were turned and eaten-I have nothing left except one lotus that I am growing elsewhere. My fish are mostly 12-20" long sop maybe they just need to be bigger to destroy the pond. Also I cut down on their food as last fall there was a ton of poop at the bottom - even with my bottom drain . . . I will have to figure out something for next year to get lilys back in my life and in the pond.


Not sure which waterlily you are referrring to, but I have a bunch of different kinds of waterlilies and only know what 2 of them are LOL. What kind of Waterlilies do you have? I know that we had the same problem with the tropical waterlilies that you are having. I came to the conclusion that the tropical waterlilies must taste better than the hardy waterlilies. Another thing - if you are using the unscented clay kitty litter to plant your waterlilies, the koi will go after the clay. They love clay. My fish are larger as well and are do not tear up my hardy waterlilies.

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