Healthy or Stressed — It Makes a World of Difference

Published on April 30, 2019

>> Also see the main feature,  “Waterlily Pests and Diseases: A Ten-Year Update.”

Healthy waterlilies are very tough plants. They withstand rains, winds, droughts, hail storms, and neighborhood kids with sticks. And more importantly, pests usually ignore them. Thriving lilies grow fast and bloom well, with plenty of leaves and regular blooms. There are enough lily pads so that an occasional pest nibble can be trimmed away without making a dent in the appearance or health of the plant. 

A healthy waterlily has good soil (not potting soil) in a suitably large container — 2 ½ gal or more. Lilies are hungry feeders and should be fertilized at least every growing season. A controlled-release fertilizer with micronutrients is ideal. Most lilies (especially tropicals) benefit from repotting every other year. The type of waterlily and the climate zone obviously affect how fast it grows, how large it gets, how much food it needs and how often it should be repotted or divided. 

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Nymphaeas are strong growers, so a lily quickly fills the container it came in. Any root-bound plant stuck in an overly-small container will be stressed. The lily won’t have enough room, food or nutrition. It becomes a prime target for pests and diseases. Weak, new leaves attract aphids, thrips and other dangers. A sickly plant grows slowly, so any pest damage greatly weakens its overall strength. And to add insult to injury, the lily’s ability to bloom is also greatly reduced.

The bottom line is that healthy waterlilies are more attractive, have larger and more frequent blooms and are less likely to be attacked by pests or diseases.

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