New Waterlily Competition Turns 25

Published on February 25, 2023

2022 Best Overall New Waterlily and People’s Choice Award N. 'Star White' - Somchan Treesuwan
2022 Best Overall New Waterlily and People’s Choice Award N. ‘Star White’ – Somchan Treesuwan

The International Water Gardening Society (IWGS) New Waterlily Competition enjoyed a special year in 2022. It marked the 25th anniversary of the first competition, which was held in 1997 at Denver Botanic Gardens. We had the unique opportunity to celebrate this momentous occasion during this year’s IWGS symposium held at the competition’s current host site, Naples Botanical Garden (NBG). This means that in addition to the regular awards, we were pleased to present a People’s Choice Award based on the actual votes of the symposium attendees cast during the event.

Nymphaea ‘Sri-Nuan'
Nymphaea ‘Sri-Nuan’ won 1st place in the hardy waterlilies category.

In addition to viewing and judging the competition waterlilies, the symposium also featured a presentation by the winner of the first New Waterlily Competition, Brandon McLane of Florida Aquatics Nursery. Highlights also included a presentation on the 25-year history of the competition and a question and answer session with five former growers of the competition, Mike Swize, Tamara Kilbane, Tim Jennings, Danny Cox and Kathy Cahill.

For 2022, we accepted entries in each of the following five categories: hardy, tropical day blooming, hardy intersubgeneric, tropical intersubgeneric and miniature. The miniature category was successfully established this year, but only after much deliberation over specifics. The size characteristics for a miniature waterlily were determined with the help of a survey sent to the waterlily community on Facebook. Despite considerable interest in this new category, the organization only received one entry and, unfortunately, the contestant grew considerably larger than the established size and had to be disqualified. Regrettably, the organization was not able to present an award in this category this year; however they look forward to seeing what exciting new plants will be developed in the future.

All entries were evaluated by an international panel of judges on the quality of the flowers and foliage as well as the general impression and uniqueness of the plant. These evaluations were made based on growers’ notes and photos over an eight-week observation period at the NBG.

Among the judges were professional waterlily growers from botanic gardens and plant nurseries, as well as hybridizers and experienced hobbyists. Our 2022 judges were, in alphabetical order of first names:

N. ‘Diamond Crown’ – Pornchai Sukkasemsamranjit won 1st place in the Hardy Intersubgeneric Waterlilies category.
  • CuiWei Yu (Zhejiang Humanities Landscape Co Ltd, China)
  • Danny Cox (Longwood Gardens, USA)
  • Farley See (Moore Water Gardens, Canada)
  • Jon Sander (Glenstone Museum, USA)
  • Kathy Sassoon (Leuca Creek, Australia)
  • Kelly Billing (Water Becomes a Garden, USA)
  • Rich Sacher (USA)
  • Sander Dekker (Netherlands)
  • Steve Hampson (USA)
  • Escribano (Spain)
  • Vicki Mills Aber (Colorado Water Gardening Society, (USA)
  • Weerada Tanaakarapakin (Buafah Garden, Thailand)

The winners of the 2022 IWGS New Waterlily Competition were as follows:

2022 Best Overall New Waterlily and People’s Choice Award

N. ‘Star White’ – Somchan Treesuwan

Hardy Waterlilies

1st place: N. ‘Sri-Nuan’ – Wipawan Sriuram

2nd place: N. ‘Mali’ – Potjanee Thongbai

3rd place: N. ‘Bangkok Sun Spark’ – Jakkaphong Sangngam

N. ‘Wode Xin’ – Tianlong Zhu won 1st place in the Tropical Intersubgeneric Waterlilies category

Tropical Dayblooming Waterlilies

1st place: N. ‘Star White’ – Somchan Treesuwan

2nd place: N. ‘Panyawee’ – Arun Kobkaew

3rd place: N. ‘Charoen’ – Dachrat Wannaponpanich

Hardy Intersubgeneric Waterlilies

1st place: N. ‘Diamond Crown’ – Pornchai Sukkasemsamranjit

2nd place: N. ‘Matthew Koch’ – Florian Henaux

3rd place: N. ‘Yue Qing’ – Jialong Wei

Tropical Intersubgeneric Waterlilies

1st place: N. ‘Wode Xin’ – Tianlong Zhu

2nd place: N. ‘Dongprateep’ – Pongpan Bidkhuntod

The IWGS would like to thank all the hybridizers who submitted their creations for evaluation as well as express our sincere gratitude to the judges who volunteered considerable time to examine these hybrids and make many tough decisions. Our thanks also goes out to those who made donations to the IWGS in support of the competition. Not least of all, we wish to extend our gratitude to the NBG for hosting both the 2022 competition and the IWGS symposium. Finally, we would like to especially thank Kathy Cahill for growing and documenting this year’s competition and Isabel Soto for all her help before, during and after the symposium.

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