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Establishing waterlillies - ignorant newby question!

roscondonroscondon Posts: 3
Hello and help!!  I have a large (10m x  15m x 1.5m) sunny spring fed clay bottom (but lined with large rocks) pond which I have planted up to the best of my ability ... reeds and marsh marigolds and irises, water hawthorn and water mint, etc.  I have also tried some oxengenating plants (mainly hornwort) which don't seem to have done so well!  But I am trying very hard to establish waterlilies.  So far the silk weed is winning and I am getting in the pond every sunny day to try and manage it, so I am desperately hoping the waterlilies take.  I have tried to buy the toughest ones (16 plants a mixture of Alba, Darwin, Gladstonia) and have planted some rhizomes straight into the clay, some plants in baskets (already planted by the nursery) and at all different height hoping that some work and of course they are not near any moving water, etc.

My question is what stage should the waterlilies be at now - some have put up a few red leaves, is this normal, or does the fact they are red mean they are on the way out.  

Do I sound desperate, well I am!!  I don't mind putting on the galoshes and getting in the pond, but I am hoping that this is only a temporary pastime and I can get the waterlilies to establish and get a better balance in the pond!

Thank you to anyone who can help!!!


  • micearguersmicearguers Posts: 614
    As for the silk weed, I recommend submerging bundles of barley straw. I got a large bag very cheaply from a pet shop, which for my small pond has lasted me a few years already. It really works/helps.
  • BenCottoBenCotto Posts: 4,291
    I planted a couple of Gonnère water lilies about six weeks ago and they have both thrown up three smallish, red leaves. The two Gonnère lilies I planted a year ago were in a similar state but by mid summer had around twenty leaves and a couple of flowers. This season they must have 40 leaves each and several flowers. Popping a few slow release nutrient pellets into the planting container is a good idea.
    Rutland, England
  • roscondonroscondon Posts: 3
    So there is hope and I will carry on!!  Against my husbands better judgement I have banned any chemical management and gone down the planting route, which I hope one day will look stunning, but the red leaves really worried me so thank you very much for your knowledge and advice.
  • KeenOnGreenKeenOnGreen Posts: 1,791
    Our Nymphea Pygmea rubra only started producing its dark red leaves a few weeks ago.  Spring was late, so the first leaf only reached the surface yesterday.  That’s way behind last year.  Be patient I’m sure you will have flowers this year.  
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,053
    I agree with the others, no need to panic. 
    Is it too late to remove those planted in the clay? My feeling is that one day you'll want to move them , or more probably split them when they get too big and you're going to have a heck of  a job getting them out of the clay.
    I grow mine in a mix of about 50:50 poor garden soil and gravel in baskets.
    Keep a very keen eye on the water mint. It's a thug.
  • wild edgeswild edges Posts: 9,376
    I sympathise with your anxiety. Last year my father in law gave me a foot long chunk of bare root waterlily that he'd ripped out of his pond and I watched my pond like a hawk until it finally kicked into life. I had the first flower in early August. It's coming back this year and the first leaf has only just reached the surface. I was getting worried that it hadn't survived.
    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • LynLyn Posts: 21,980
    Hosta, on your insructions, I just chucked mine in as they were, they’re all growing well, must have found their own base. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,053
    Lyn said:
    Hosta, on your insructions, I just chucked mine in as they were, they’re all growing well, must have found their own base. 
    Indeed they will, but my concern is the size of the OP's pond(10m x  15m x 1.5m)  might make it a bit tricky to get in and remove it when it needs it. 
    Our ponds are a little more modest in size.
  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,530
    edited May 2018
    When I set up my little pond three years ago I chucked in a handful of Canadian pond weed, aka Elodea, and now the pond is two thirds full of it and I have given loads away.  It requires zero maintenance, and shades out the algae.  I also have a water lily which flowers every year and I've been able to divide it in three and give one away.  If you let me have your address in a Pm I can send you some Elodea, but it's cheap as chips and not hard to find.
  • LynLyn Posts: 21,980
    Same here Jo, I could supple a county with it, it grows in no time, it’s now once again waiting to be thinned out and put on the compost heap.
    water lilies won’t give you a balance of pond plants, they die off in the winter, whereas the Elodea and hornwort will be there all the time.   
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

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