Inside The New York Botanical Garden

No-Fuss Nymphaea

Posted in How-to, Video on August 9 2012, by Matt Newman

There’s a notion floating around that growing water lilies is a hobby best left to conservatory curators and nursery managers. Maybe it’s driven by the fact that Nymphaea are so alien to what the average home gardener is comfortable working with; aquatic plants are a far cry from the ever present office philodendron. Or maybe it’s because Claude Monet built an entire artistic movement on the exploration of their fragile elegance. “I’d have to refinance my house to dig that!” you think, looking at Giverny’s carefully-arranged water lily pond.

Relax. You won’t even need a trowel, much less a construction team with a backhoe.

As we slip into the late summer height of our water lily display, Christian Primeau–Manager of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory–is ready to share a few key pointers with Nymphaea hopefuls. All you’ll need is a basic soil blend, some pea gravel, a large container, and a spot in or around your house with full sun exposure.

I told you it was painless! The hardest part is having the willpower to stop at one or two plantings–before you can say “budget restraint,” you’ve got an entire koi pond planned out and the fish already on order.

Monet’s Garden will continue to run through October 21, and in that time you’re welcome to stop by the NYBG‘s Shop in the Garden to browse our selection of water lily cultivars and gardening supplies. It’s not quite the traumatic undertaking you expected it to be, huh?


Brian Conkerton said:

This is great information on how to prepare a bowl for water lilies. I have often admired these beautiful flowers in other gardens around the city but never thought that it could be so easy to set up. Now I’m ready and I hope to soon show my friend and family my addition of water lilies into my garden.