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How to: decorate with water lilies

Waterlilies are shy until the mercury hits 30, and then they unfold into beautiful blooms. We grow them in large bowls and pots, and pick them to decorate the table through summer.


The water lily, Nymphaea, is the most popular of all aquatic plants and enjoys the confined space and still water of a water bowl.


Photo - Sang An/

Select a large container (water lilies like to grow in up to 50cm of water ) and a place in the sun. Plug any drainage holes, and fill with rainwater. Water lilies need annual feeding with specialised waterlily pellets (available at aquatic plant nurseries). They will die down over winter, and at this time mature plants can be divided and shared with friends. Hopefully your water bowl will attract frogs and lizards to keep the mosquito larvae at bay.

Hardy water lilies

Suited to most areas of Australia. Grow best in 20-45cm of water. Come in warm colours and flower from October to March.

We love: 'Caroliniana Nivea', pure white, fragrant; 'Chromatella', bright canary yellow; 'Fabiola', shades of pink with white surround; and 'Conqueror', rich deep red.


Tropical water lilies

Flourish as far south as the warmer areas of Sydney. Flower from November until winter and hold their flowers on tall stalks above the water. Flower in all colours including purple and are often scented. 

We love: 'August Koch', mid-blue, compact; N. colorata, purple to pink; and 'Mrs Pring', snowy white


Miniature water lilies

Available in both hardy and tropical forms. They are better suited to water bowls and small features than larger varieties which can get overcrowded. 

We love: 'Mini Aurora', changeable colour from yellow through pink-red; 'Laydekeri Fulgens', strong red; and 'Helvola', bright yellow.


When using water lilies as picked flowers, choose a vase that allows the flowers to be in water right up to their necks. The flowers will close at night, but open again in the morning, and keep you in awe for days.