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How Do I Winterize My Aquatic Plants? – Water Garden Q & A


Picture of Water Lily.

Q: I am working to shut down my water garden for Winter, but I’m unsure of what to do with the aquatic plants? Do I pull them out? If I leave them will they come back next year? – Bill of Wisconsin

Aquatic Plant Maintenance: Every type of aquatic plant needs to be taken care of in a different way. The biggest factor to remember is to make sure that the roots of the aquatic plants do not come into contact with the ice. Anything “hardy” will usually come back each year as long as the roots do not come in contact with ice. Anything “tropic” or “non-hardy” will parish during the Winter times. The following are the steps to take for each type of aquatic plant.

Hardy Water Lilies, Marginals & Submerged Aquatic Plants: Simply trim to around 3 inches above the root system. Water lilies & submerged aquatic plants should already be planted 18″ to 24″ deep making it very unlikely for them to be frozen.

Tropical & Floating Aquatic Plants: Any tropical water lilies, tropical lotsus, or tropical marginals should be treated as annuals. They will not survive the harsh Winter conditions. If you would like to try and keep them, you can place them in pots and bring them indoors, but this can be difficult to keep them alive. As for floating aquatic plants such as: Water hyacinth, lettuce, etc., treat these as annuals as well. Most floating plants are realtively inexpensive to replace each year.

Hardy Lotuses: Trim back the foliage after it has died and turned brown. If leaves are cut while still green, the plant is susceptible to diseases entering through the hollow stems. If stem must be cut while still green, make sure to trim above the waterline, so water does not enter the stem and essentially drown the plant. In colder climates, lotus tubers must not be allowed to freeze in the winter, and containers should be moved to a cool but frost-free area, such as the bottom of a pond that is deep enough to keep the tubers from freezing.

8 Responses

  1. what does water do to my plant
    what kind of water works for marigolds? salt water, fresh water, ocean water, or suger water

  2. I am in zone 5 also and I drop my hardy plant but take the not so hardy into my somewhat heated garage for the winter. I place them in a south exposure in pans of water that I keep at top level. I have been doing this for years with great success. The plants are pretty sad looking by spring but when clear of frost I cut them down to several inches and place them in the pond. They bloom great.

  3. When I lost my water feature we cut lily down to root ball , put in plastic zip lock bag and stored in dark closet ( basement) for winter then put back into tank. Bloomed twice as well as first year.

  4. I had a water feature and to winterize we sank plants-hardy lily’s, etc. to the bottom ( about 40 inches) and got a stock tank heater to place on ledge ( about 18 inches) to keep a water hole for air. When it got really bad, we broke ice with hand to keep it open.

  5. Daniel Mariano,

    I apologize for the change Daniel. To make it easier to print from the blog and not have all of the rest of the stuff do the following:
    1.) Highlight the article by clicking and holding the left mouse button.
    2.) Drag to select what you would like to print and let go of the left mouse button.
    3.) With the selection still highlighted, go to, File > Print on header bar in your browser.
    4.) When the print screen is opened, Underneath the “Print Range” section, click the radio button that says, “Selection”
    5.) Click “Print” and you should be able to get just the article.

    Hopefully this helps and sorry for the inconvenience.

  6. Tammy Linner,

    I have seen customers pull in tropical lilies for the winter and be successful at keeping them alive until spring. Please keep me informed on what your doing and how everything goes and maybe we can come up with a step-by-step on bringing the tropicals indoors. Thanks for your comment!

  7. Hi.. I took my tropical lily out of my pond……..(i’m in zone 5) and I’m treating it like a normal house plant! But keeping it a little wetter………will that work!?

  8. why have you changed the tips format,to get the rest of the answer ,now i got to print a lot of pages i don’t need.

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