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My water lilies have lots of leaves but no flowers. What’s wrong?| Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A


Q: My water lilies have lots of leaves but no flowers. What’s wrong?

Q: My water lilies have lots of leaves but no flowers. What’s wrong?

Lucinda – Angier, NC

A: Those lily pads may provide much-needed shade and protection to your pond’s underwater inhabitants, but if the plants lack those beautiful pink, peach, yellow and white flowers, that could be a sign that something’s amiss.

Here, we’ve outlined some possible causes of your lilies’ missing flowers:

  • Not Enough Nutrients: Curling or yellowing of the leaves or flowers can be signs of nitrogen, iron and magnesium deficiency. Have you fertilized your lilies lately? If not, if may be time to give them a little plant food. Thrive™ Aquatic Plant Fertilizer Tablets slowly release nutrients for up to one month, providing your plants with what they need to flourish.
  • Insufficient Light: Are your lilies getting six to eight hours of partial to full sun a day? Without that sunshine, the plant will appear weak and frail. If they’re under a canopy or in a shadier part of your pond, move them to a sunnier location.
  • Overcrowded Plants: Plants – terrestrial and aquatic – need room to stretch out their roots and grow. If they’re placed in a tiny planter or there are too many packed in one area, this can stunt their development. Take some time to pull out those plant baskets from your pond and divide the lilies into separate pots. Here are step-by-step instructions for dividing water lilies.
  • Poor pH Levels: Water lilies do best in water that’s in the 6.2 to 7.4 pH range. Check pH levels frequently with a pH Test Kit to ensure the measurements are within that range and correct them accordingly.

Like your roses or other plants in your flower garden, your water lilies will benefit from some regular trimming and dead-heading. Prune or trim any flowers or leaves that have turned yellow or brown. This will encourage new growth – and hopefully some new blooms!

Pond Talk: How do you increase blooms from your water lilies?

Plant In Flexible Pond Planters - The Pond Guy(r) Plant Bags

8 Responses

  1. We have some water lilys that we bought at Wal Mart about 8 years ago. They die back in the fall and we leave them in their pot right in the pond (preformed pond, barely 18″ deep all over) for the winter and they come back every spring with no problems. I prune off the yellowed leaves but not too many of them since the frogs like to sit on them in the sun. We live in CT.

  2. I winter over my lilies and the ones that winter over never bloom We live in the mtns of NH. how can I get them to bloom? should I take them out for the winter?

    • Hi Charlene – The first 2 things I would check would be for enough space in the pot and fertilizing once a month during the growing season for your non-bloomers. You can overwinter water lilies inside for the winter. Here are instructions for over wintering tropical water lilies: Can I overwinter my tropical water lilies? The steps for hardy water lilies is similar, except you can move the lilies when the water temps are cooler (in the 50s).

  3. My goldfish eat my waterlilies as they come up in the spring.

  4. Thanks for the info. That might be my problem too.

  5. Thanks for the info

  6. Another reason for poor water lily performance, is that my koi love to break off the pads, and they frequently break off a flower bud before it ever gets to the surface. I give them lots of floating plants to shove around and pick at. While that hasn’t completely solved the problem, it has helped.

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