How Do Water Lilies Bloom?

Written by carrie terry
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How Do Water Lilies Bloom?
Water lilies grow on top of the water in many decorative ponds. (Image by, courtesy of David Blaikie)

Water lilies are truly unique in the flower world. Although they are rooted in a pot of soil, water lilies bloom by floating on top of the water in which they live.

Water Lily Features

Water lilies present unique features, with long stems that allow leaves and flowers to sit on top of the water. Wide, circular leaves act as a base for the colourful lily blooms. Water lilies are best planted in spring, when they can bloom and take advantage of long, warm summer days.

Water Lily Growing

Water lilies are some of the easiest lilies to grow. They are best when started in pots 6 inches tall or shallow pans, filled with rich soil and placed in relatively shallow water until they establish. Water lilies require at least six hours of sunlight every day, and generally bloom with two weeks of planting.

Water Lily Blooms

Once they have sprouted, water lilies grow rapidly. The plants bloom in spring and summer. The blossoms open up during the day in response to heat and light, to soak up what they need, and close again for the night to conserve energy. They stay open longer during warm weather and long days.


Because water lily blooms are only open during the day, viewing is limited. During colder, shorter days the blooms only open for a short period of time.


Like all lilies, water lilies can be propagated from their roots, or bulbs. Water lily bulbs are dug up, divided and moved to other locations to grow new plants.

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