Cultivating Texas Superstar Waterlilies
by Rolf Nelson, Nelson Water Gardens,
Katy, Texas USA
Texas Superstar water plants make for A Super Story!
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
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.
by Duane Eaton