Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: White Water Lily, Waterlily
Nymphaea odorata

Family: Nymphaeaceae (nim-fee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Nymphaea (NIM-fee-uh) (Info)
Species: odorata (oh-dor-AY-tuh) (Info)

Synonym:Nymphaea odorata subsp. odorata

» View all varieties of Waterlilies

8 members have or want this plant for trade.

under 6 in. (15 cm)
6-12 in. (15-30 cm)
12-18 in. (30-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall


Other details:
Flowers are fragrant
Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Soil pH requirements:
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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3 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive goodgrowing On Jul 25, 2009, goodgrowing from Dexter, MO wrote:

This lily is native in southeast Missouri, zone 6b, and extremely hardy. We find it in sloughs, ponds, swamps. Incredibly beautiful and nicely fragrant. I had a 2 1/2 acre lake, maximum 15 feet deep, built last fall. The state aquatic biologist came this week to check it out. He recommended I add this lily plus some other native water plants to provide good habitat for native fish (bass, catfish, and bluegill) in the lake, as well as the whole food chain. I have a big one in a tub on my patio so I'll divide it to plant in the lake.

I also grew it in Denver, Colorado, in my backyard water lily "pond" that was about 10 feet in diameter and a maximum of 33 inches deep. Denver is zone 5B. This lily was an absolutely reliable bloomer and made it through the winters fine for the over 20 years I had my little pone. The Denver Botanic Gardens had this displayed in their outstanding water lily collection, at least when I left in 2005.

Neutral DaraMV On Aug 5, 2004, DaraMV wrote:

Not reccomened for small ponds. The spread can be indefinite, especially if planted in mud bottom ponds. Fragrant blossoms have a nice fruity coconut scent in my opinion.

Positive Emaewest On Aug 3, 2004, Emaewest from Timberlea, NS (Zone 6a) wrote:

These deceptively delicate looking flowers are also beautifully scented. Nothing compares to the soft, vanilla fragrance of a mass of blooming waterlilies! One of my favourite wild flowers.

Positive ButterflyGardnr On Jan 9, 2003, ButterflyGardnr from Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This hardy, native water lily is highly fragrant and has a delicate white flower with a yellow center. It is commonly used as a cross for hybridization. The seeds and flowers are edible. It prefers slow moving or stagnant water. The floating leaves will spread to cover 3-5 feet on the water's surface. The leaves can grow quickly when heavy rains cause high waters.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Denver, Colorado
Fort Myers, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Chicago, Illinois
Farmington, Kentucky
New Orleans, Louisiana
Midland, Michigan
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Carriere, Mississippi
Dexter, Missouri
Crossville, Tennessee
Austin, Texas

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