Waterscapes 101

Hardy Water Lily floating pond plant with flowers

Nymphaea or hardy water lily is one of the most common pond plants. It consists of a network of rhizomes that product long stems. From the stem comes large round leaves that float at the pond surface. Lily pads are 6-12" in diameter. The stems also produce flowers that can be white, yellow, and pink. Flowers often bloom from June until September.

There are other varieties of tropical water lilies that are not native to the United States. These species are easy to distinguish because their lily pads have spiked edges. Other similar pond weeds include water shield and spatterdock, which both produce a floating pad.

The water lily nymphaea is commonly found because pond owners plant these for fish habitat, water quality, or simply for the beautiful flowers they produce. It is easy to transplant lilies from one pond to another by breaking a portion of the rhizome and replanting in a shallow trench.

water lilies

How do lily pads spread?

They spread by their rhizome (root system) and the seeds that they produce. An example of a water lily rhizome is pictured above. One rhizome can produce 15 feet of surface cover in just 5 years.

Water lilies can spread rapidly through a pond.The network of rhizomes can make it difficult to manage.

How deep can water lilies grow

They can grow easily in 6-7 feet of water. Depth varies based on water clarity.

Are lily pads good for ponds

Water lilies create habitat that largemouth bass prefer for spawning. Lilypads also create an area for young fish to live. Areas covered in lilies are less likely to have algae blooms because the surface coverage blocks sunlight needed by algae.

If left unmanaged lilies can also have some detrimental effects. Extensive lily cover can reduce the exchange of oxygen at the water surface. This oxygen is vital to all aquatic life. Water lilies also attract mosquitoes and aphids.

Natural way to get rid of lily pads

Use weed rakes or cutters for lily pad removal. This is a short-term management option because the lilies grow from rooted rhizomes in the soil. These rhizomes can produce new shoots if left in the pond. 

Water lilies are not a preferred food of grass carp.

Best herbicide for water lilies

For early season control apply Navigate granular aquatic herbicide. Granules sink to the bottom and kill nymphaea at the roots. Begin noticing results in 7-10 days.

CattPlex is a liquid aquatic herbicide for lily pads. This treatment is tank mixed and sprayed on mature vegetation that is above the water surface. All lily pads must be sprayed for good results. Begin noticing results in 7-10 days. 

Best Herbicide for Water Lilies