Cultivating Texas Superstar Waterlilies

by Rolf Nelson, Nelson Water Gardens, Katy, Texas USA

The general "rules" for growing waterlilies apply to all Texas Superstar varieties.

Waterlilies are high light-intensity plants that perform best with direct sun on them all day. However, all Texas Superstar cultivars can bloom well with as little as 6-8 hours of direct sun. Among TS selections, Nymphaea 'Panama Pacific' is the best choice for water gardens with fewer hours, requiring at least 3-5 hours of direct sun.

They grow best in a clay loam with nutrients provided; do not use commercial potting mixes. All TS lilies can grow in a 7-8 quart (7 liter) aquatic container (a hole-less pot) for an entire season. They continue blooming provided they receive sufficient nutrients. Along our Texas Gulf Coast (USDA Zone 9), hardy waterlilies typically bloom from late March or early April until late October or November. N. 'Clyde Ikins' often blooms until late December or early January absent a prolonged hard freeze. Bloom times start later in cooler climates.

Wintered-over tropical waterlilies typically start blooming in here in May. They need water temperatures well into the 70's F (around 24 C) to "kick into gear". Plants started in greenhouses, even non-heated ones, usually bloom by early April; put them in your pond when water temperatures reach the upper 60's (around 20 C).

Waterlilies benefit from annual repotting using freshly fertilized soil. This is typically done in April. At planting time, fill 1/3 of the container with clay loam thoroughly mixed with high quality aquatic granular fertilizer. I use Landon Aquatic Fertilizer at the rate of 1 cup (0.25 liter) per four gallons (15 liters) of soil. This fertilizer includes slow release elements that provide nutrition for 10-12 weeks. Plant the long root at a 45° angle with the growing tip pointed up toward the center of the pot. Add the rest of the soil; do not cover the crown (growing tip) with soil. With your fist, pound the soil down firmly, and then slowly add water. Cover the soil with ½ to 1 inch (1.3-2.5 centimeters) of sand, then 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) of rinsed pea gravel. Lower it gently into your pond.

Provide subsequent nutrition with specially formulated aquatic tablets pushed into the soil biweekly until fall. Another good fertilizer I use is Pondtabbs 10:14:8. Both fertilizers stimulate waterlilies to produce many blooms. While all TS waterlily varieties happily grow and bloom in the 7- to 8-quart (7-liter) pots mentioned earlier, they display greater leaf and flower size and number of blooms when planted in aquatic 5-gallon (19- liter) or larger containers.

Waterlilies continually produce leaves and flowers during their growing season. Remove old leaves and spent blooms once or twice a month to keep the plants looking their best. 

Texas Superstar water plants make for A Super Story!
by Duane Eaton

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