Nymphaea Species, American White Waterlily, Fragrant White Water Lily

Nymphaea odorata

Family: Nymphaeaceae (nim-fee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Nymphaea (NIM-fee-uh) (Info)
Species: odorata (oh-dor-AY-tuh) (Info)
» View all varieties of Waterlilies


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:

Unknown - Tell us

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

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Denver, Colorado

Fort Myers, Florida

Kissimmee, Florida

Myakka City, Florida

Chicago, Illinois

Wheaton, Illinois

Farmington, Kentucky

New Orleans, Louisiana

Midland, Michigan

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Carriere, Mississippi

Dexter, Missouri

Brooklyn, New York

Elverson, Pennsylvania

Crossville, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

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Gardeners' Notes:


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... read more


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.


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.


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.