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How to split water lilies – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Picture of a water lily.

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: How do you split water lilies?

A: Whether they’re hardy, tropical, day or night bloomer, water lilies beautify decorative backyard ponds. Their vivid colors add a dash of drama in an otherwise green landscape, which is probably why you added them to the pond in the first place!

In the confines of an aquatic pot or plant basket in a decorative pond, water lilies can quickly run out of space and nutrients.

When those flowers stop blossoming and the leaves grow to excess, it’s a sure sign that it’s time to divide and replant the lilies. With a little know-how, splitting lilies is a chore that can be done in no time. Here’s how to do it:

1. Remove your overgrown plants from the water garden in the spring, sometime around March or April, when the water temperature starts to rise. Put on your waterproof gardening gloves, like the Aqua Gloves, and carefully lift the plant to a work space and remove it from its container. You may need to cut open the basket, depending how pot-bound the plant is.

2. Next, wash off old soil and roots not attached to the plant. Split the crown of the plant with a sharp knife to cut through the creamy white rhizome, saving the youngest parts of the clump, typically around the outside edge, for repotting. Examine the rhizome for damage or signs of disease, like soft patches of rot. Cut those portions off.

3. Trim the long, coarse roots back to 4 to 5 inches. Line your new plant basket with landscape cloth or similar material and position three to five pieces of rhizome in the basket with their growing tips facing outward to help avoid competition as the crowns develop.

4. Fill in around the rhizomes with aquatic soil, like Microbe-Lift Aquatic Plant Media, making sure the roots are spread well into the soil and the crown is sitting just below the soil surface. Gently press the plant in and compact the soil.

5. Finish repotting by applying a layer of gravel. This helps anchor plants, keeps the soil in the pot and deters fish from digging out the plants. Return the lily to the water garden taking care when positioning the
pot not to tip the lily out.

You can expect to divide your water lilies every few years or so, depending on your particular variety and growth rate. To keep you plants healthy and thriving between transplanting, be sure to fertilize regularly
with aquatic plant foods, like Tetra Lily Grow Tablets, Microbe-Lift Bloom & Grow or the convenient Fertilizer Spikes.

POND TALK: How often do you split and repot your water lilies?

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