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How to Grow Water Lilies from Seeds?


Water lilies (Nymphaea spp.) are beautiful aquatic plants. They are commonly found in ponds and water gardens. We will outline the steps for how to grow water lilies from seeds.

Understanding Water Lilies

Different Types of Water Lilies

Hardy water lilies are native to temperate regions. They can survive harsh winters. Hardy water lilies have small flowers and leaves. You can grow them in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 3 and 11.

Tropical water lilies thrive in warm climates. They have large and vibrant blooms. Tropical water lilies also have longer blooming periods compared to hardy ones. You can only grow them in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 9 and 11.

Choosing the Right Variety for Your Climate

You can choose hardy water lilies if you live in a cold region. Because they can withstand freezing temperatures and will come back year after year. If you live in a warm climate, tropical water lilies will be best. They thrive in temperatures above 70°F and can bloom all year round in the right conditions.

Preparation for Sprout Water Lily Seeds

Selecting the Right Seeds

The first step in growing water lily from seeds is finding quality seeds. You can buy water lily seeds online from reputable sellers or at your local garden center. Make sure water lily seeds for planting are fresh and viable. Because old or damaged seeds may not germinate.

Essential Tools and Materials

You need some essential tools and materials for successful seed germination. These include a container or pond for planting, potting soil, a spray bottle, and fertilizer.

Tips on Choosing the Right Soil or Substrate

Use a heavy, clay-based soil specifically designed for aquatic plants. Avoid using regular potting soils. Because they may contain fertilizers and chemicals. These can harm the delicate roots of water lilies.

If you can't find a suitable aquatic plant soil, a mixture of clay and sand can also work well. Make sure the substrate is 6 inches deep. This allows for proper root growth. Adding pea gravel on top of the soil. This helps prevent fish or other aquatic creatures from disturbing it.

Preparing the Planting Environment

You can grow water lilies in containers or directly in ponds. The container should be wide enough to accommodate the mature size of your water lily. The pond should be 18 inches deep. Soak your seeds in warm water for 24 hours before planting. This will help soften the hard outer shell and promote germination.

How Do You Grow Water Lilies From Seed?

How to Germinate Water Lily Seeds?

Choose a container 12 inches deep with drainage holes when growing water lilies from seeds. Fill it with approximately 3 inches of soil or substrate. Place the water lily seeds on top of the soil. Cover the seeds with gravel or sand. Anchor them in place and prevent them from floating away.

Gently mist the water lily seeds and soil with water. Make sure not to disturb the seeds. Place the container in a warm and sunny location. For example, near a window or under grow lights. The ideal temperature is 70°F-80°F. You will see tiny sprouts emerging from the seeds in 2-3 weeks.

Proper Planting Depth and Spacing Guidelines

Planting water lily seeds 1/4 inch deep below the surface of the soil. Space the seeds 3-4 inches apart from each other. Plant the seeds near the edge of the container. This will allow easier maintenance and trimming later on.

growing water lily from seeds

Caring for Water Lily Seeds

Water and Light Requirements

Water lilies thrive in the full sun. So place your seeds in a location with 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. The water should also be still. Because the constant movement of waves can prevent seeds from taking root. If you are growing water lilies in a pond with fish or other aquatic animals, place them in a mesh bag or floating container. This protects the seeds from being eaten.

Temperature and Environment

The ideal water temperature is between 75-85°F. If you live in a cool climate, grow water lily seeds indoors until they are large enough. The water depth should also be 6 inches for optimal growth.


You should use a slow-release fertilizer specifically designed for aquatic plants. You can also add rich topsoil or compost around the base of the plant.

Regular Maintenance and Common Issues

You should remove any dead leaves or flowers. Keeping the water clean and free of debris. Regularly check for pests or diseases. Aphids, Aquatic Snails, China Mark Moth and fungal infections are common issues.

Germination and Growth

Expected Timeline for Germination and Initial Growth

Germination of water lily seeds usually takes around 2-3 weeks. The seeds will first start to swell and show signs of cracking before sprouting a small root (radicle).

Within the next week or two, the water lily seedlings will develop a few small leaves and start to grow taller. By the end of the first month, you can expect your water lily to have several more leaves and a strong root system.

Monitoring Growth Stages

Water lilies are known for their rapid growth rate, especially during the summer months. During the initial stages of growth, maintaining a consistent water level ensures the roots have enough moisture.

As the plant grows taller, you may need to prune off any dead or yellow leaves and fertilize regularly. Make sure to remove any spent blooms regularly. Keep an eye out for pests or diseases. After a few months, your water lily will start producing beautiful flowers.

Troubleshooting Common Germination Issues

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, water lily seeds may fail to germinate. The most common reason is planting the seeds too deep or using poor quality soil. You should plant the seeds no more than 1 cm deep in a well-draining, nutrient-rich soil mix.

Another common issue is over or under-watering. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Using a spray bottle or misting the top of the soil regularly. This can help maintain proper moisture levels.

Transplanting and Maintenance

Steps for Transplanting Water Lilies

Choose a container 18 inches wide and 12-15 inches deep. Make sure it has drainage holes to prevent water from accumulating. Carefully lift the water lily out of its old container. Make sure not to damage the roots. If the plant is stuck, use a knife to gently loosen it.

The water lily's roots will likely be quite long and tangled. Trim them down to about 6-8 inches in length, removing any dead or damaged parts. Fill the new container with a mix of loam soil and aquatic plant fertilizer. Place the water lily's roots into the soil. Make sure the crown is just above the surface.

Gently fill the container with water until it reaches just below the crown. Add a slow-release fertilizer tablet to help nourish the plant. Submerge the container into a pond or other body of water. Make sure it is at a depth where the leaves will eventually reach the surface.

Tips for Proper Maintenance

Water lilies are heavy feeders. They require regular fertilization to stay healthy. Use a slow-release fertilizer every 3-4 weeks during the growing season. Remove dead or damaged leaves promptly. This prevents them from rotting and potentially harming the rest of the plant.

As water lilies grow, they may become crowded in their container. If this happens, divide them. Plant them in separate containers to allow for proper growth. This is also a good time to check for any damaged or diseased roots.

Aphids and snails can be susceptible to water lilies. Use a safe insecticide or manually remove these pests if you notice them on your plants. Algae can compete with water lilies for nutrients and sunlight. Use a pond-safe algaecide to control algae growth. Keep it from overtaking your lily's space.

Winterizing Water Lilies

Before the first frost, remove your water lily container from the pond and bring it indoors. Cut back any remaining leaves and stems from your plant. Leave about 2-3 inches of growth.

Place your water lily in a cool, dark place. For example, a basement or garage. Keep it away from any sources of heat or light. Check the soil moisture periodically. Add small amounts of water to keep it from completely drying out. After the frost passes, you can replant your water lily back into the pond.

Harvesting Seeds and Propagation

To harvest the seeds, gently cut off the water lily seed pods from the plant using a sharp knife or scissors. Make sure they are fully developed and have turned brown before harvesting them. Immature seeds will not germinate and may even rot in water.

After harvesting, gently pull them apart to remove the seeds from the pod. The seeds are small and look like black or dark brown beads. You should handle the seeds with care. Because they are delicate and can easily get damaged.


We have covered the key steps in how to grow water lilies from seeds. Growing water lilies from seeds may seem like a daunting undertaking. But with the right knowledge and tools, it can be a rewarding journey.

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