MATHERFISH POND PLANTS
Hardy water lilies might be considered the perennial water lily, due to its ability to come back each year in the spring. The plant will go dormant in the winter, and if the tuber does not freeze, it will come back in the spring. Hardy water lilies usually can live in zones as low as zone 4. They need sunshine, heat, fertilizer and water to survive, however. Hardy water lilies typically do not hold their blooms as high above the water as tropical water lilies, and they do not produce as many blooms at a time. They do produce beautiful blooms which may be red, pink, yellow or white. Although hybridizers are attempting to create a blue hardy lily, there are none on the market at present. There are no night blooming hardy lilies. The hardy lily blooms usually open in the early to mid-morning and close in the mid to late afternoon. A few hardy lilies are not as heat tolerant as others, and may “burn” in zones above zone 8. This causes the blooms to blacken at the edges of the petals, and to wilt. Sometimes the heat will even keep the plant from blooming at all. These varieties are generally among the red blooming lilies. To help counter this, some people have put these lilies in ponds that are shaded during the hottest part of the day. Hardy lilies are also smaller in their spread than tropical lilies. This allows for more plants and varieties to be kept in a smaller area. Easy to care for, perennial, varying in colors, are among the reasons people enjoy growing hardy lilies in their ponds.
Planting-A pot big enough to give your lily enough room to grow in. Plastic pots work best. You should get a pot that is at least 6" deep, and 8" in diameter, depending on the size of your tuber. As the plant ages and grows, the pot size will have to be increased. Top soil with some clay basis. Do not use potting soil or any soil with peat moss or vermiculite in it. They will float and make a mess in your pond. Small gravel or sand to cover the surface of your pot 1/2 inch thick. Fertilizer (pond tablets are preferred) Your lily is probably bare root, meaning it has no soil, when shipped. Where you see the smaller leaves growing is the growing tip. Larger leaves will also be growing primarily from this end. The other end is the cut end, and nothing will grow from that end. Do not allow the growing tip to dry out at any time. If allowed to dry, the plant will die. You will want to keep the growing tip above the soil when planted. Fill the pot with the soil to about 2" from the top of the rim, with a "ditch" in the middle, starting at the edge. The ditch should be about 2 or 3 inches deep. Place the tuber in the "ditch, with the cut end next to the edge of the pot, and the growing tip angling up out of the soil. Cover the tuber's cut end and fill the pot with soil to about 1" below the rim of the pot. Make sure the growing tip is still 1" above the soil level. Push fertilizer tablets into soil. Avoid placing tablets directly against the plant's roots. Cover the tablets with soil, and pack down soil around plant and in pot. Add gravel or sand to an approximate depth of 1/2 inch. Make sure the growing tip is above this level. Gradually, lower the pot into your pond, allowing the pot to fill with water, and the air bubbles to escape. Remember to check your lily annually to see if it needs to be divided, or repotted.
Propagation- You should stop fertilizing the lilies in mid-September to mid-October, depending on how early your first freeze comes. This will cause the plant to start growing it’s “tuber.” The tubers are the means by which new plants will be produced the next spring. The tubers produce plants identical to the mother plant. The main tuber can grow to several feet long if the plant is not divided at least every two years. Not all tubers grow to this size, however. The tuber will have smaller tubers grow from it and they will produce new plants at their tips. These new tubers can be separated from the other tubers with the plant growing from their tip. This is called “dividing” and the new tuber and plant is to then be potted up on its own. A few hardy lilies are “viviparous.” This type of lily occasionally will produce new plants from an existing bloom. These new plants are usually formed when the bloom is ready to die, and should be left on the stem until the pad is gone. The new plant will continue to grow while attached until the stem is decayed also, but it is best not to wait that long before removing the plant from the stem and planting it in its own pot. The new plant will be identical to the mother plant. Hardy lilies will also reproduce by seeds as well. When planting hardy lily seeds, as with other water and land seeds, seeds that are hybrids or produced by hybrid mother plants, will not be the same as the mother plant. Planting of these seeds may or may not produce plants that look like the mother plant and should not be labeled with the name of the mother plant. New varieties of plants are created by the crossing or hybridization of these seeds.
OVER WINTERING- The best way to keep your plants over the winter is to move the pot to deeper water, below the freeze line. Hardy lilies can be kept as far north as zone, if the tubers are not allowed to freeze. The plant will die back when frost hits, and the dead can be removed. The pot then must be moved to deeper water before a “hard” freeze hits. If you cannot move the plant to deeper water, move the pot to a place where the plant can be 1) kept from freezing, 2) in a low light location and 3) kept wet.
Dividing the plant- 1) I take the plant out of the pot, 2) Wash all of the soil off of it. 3) Break the new tubers (I refer to them as fingers) apart from the main tuber. I throw away all rotted tubers and keep only the tubers with new "crowns" or plants started on them.
APHIDS and WHITE FLIES- Aphids can destroy the health of your plant. They are a tiny gray or black bug that will suck the life out of your plant, killing it. You will see them on the stems, usually starting under the leaves. Ants are often seen trailing back and forth to the places where the aphids are because of a sweat substance they form. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this is a way to get rid of them- (This recipe was developed after entomologists at the Agriculture Research Center in Phoenix, Arizona) They found that a spray of soybean oil protected cotton from aphids and white flies. You mix one tablespoon of dishwashing detergent with one cup of cooking oil as a base. When aphids or white flies are found, mix one to two and one half teaspoons of the detergent oil mix with one cup of water. The detergent causes the oil to emulsify in the water. It can be sprayed on the water lilies every ten days. Rinse mixture off of the plants within 10 minutes to protect the plant. Besides aphids, the mixture works against whiteflies and spider mites. An alternative method is to spray them with cooking oil, or to drown them, as they cannot swim.