Water Lily - Depth/sun advice


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First year the pond is up and running. I’ve got two young water lilies and am trying to locate them where they will maximally thrive (foliage and fish coverage matter more to me than blooms).

My pond is dappled shade until mid afternoon. The sunniest spots are ~12” shelves whereas the 24” deep main part gets sunny maybe an hour later. At solstice I’ll likely get full sun 2:30-6:30.

For the general health of the plants is the deeper water more important or the extra hour of sun given that it is already somewhat limited?

Top-of-root-ball depths would be about 6” on the shelves, 18” in the depths. The lily tags say plant 12-24” below surface - is the depth recommendation simply guidance or is it a strict requirement? Any advice would be appreciated.
 
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addy1

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My lilies are anywhere from 1 foot deep to 3 feet deep. They all do fine.
 

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I have been doing reading on several sites that sell water lilies. 8" minimum depth and depending on lily, up to 36". I have had lilies in 48" but they were not too impressive. Also read that lilies that have spotted leaves like Colorado and Vanvisa can tolerate shade more than the plain green leaf ones!
 

addy1

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I have been doing reading on several sites that sell water lilies. 8" minimum depth and depending on lily, up to 36". I have had lilies in 48" but they were not too impressive. Also read that lilies that have spotted leaves like Colorado and Vanvisa can tolerate shade more than the plain green leaf ones!
Mine are all full sun, I do recall reading that the spotted leaves do better is shade than the solid green ones.
 
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It really does depend on the actual plant - some prefer shallower water, but most will do just fine even at the bottom of a 3 foot depth. Put it where it best suits your pond. Blooming may not happen as frequently in the shade (depending on variety) but if you're not concerned about that, you should be fine.

The only time I've found it matters is early in the season - the ones that are closer to the surface put up pads faster, but that's due to the warmer water. So if I'm ambitious or it's a nice warm spring, I'll move them to the shelves for a few weeks and let them get some growth.
 

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I usually pull all of mine up to the walk out end of the pond, let them sit there until they get growing. Then shove them all down deeper,
 
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Thanks for all the info. Since I have two, I think I’ll drop one deep (a Wanvisa variety) and keep the green leaf one on the shelf and do a comparison study. I also got around to formally measuring the root ball depth on the slightly sunnier shelf and it looks like it’s actually 8” vs 6”.
 
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@drbballwater - like I said, you do what works for you. HOWEVER comparing the growth rate of two different varieties of lily under two different growing conditions will tell you what? Measuring rootball depth has about the same value - "under water" is all most lilies care about.

My advice would be "don't overthink" - water gardening is like any other gardening: sometimes things work, sometimes they don't. And most of the time you have no clue what the difference was. If you were buying a rare and difficult to find water lily, the scientific approach would make sense, but for your everyday run of the mill Wanvisa, pretty much anything is going to be fine.
 
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@drbballwater - like I said, you do what works for you. HOWEVER comparing the growth rate of two different varieties of lily under two different growing conditions will tell you what? Measuring rootball depth has about the same value - "under water" is all most lilies care about.

My advice would be "don't overthink" - water gardening is like any other gardening: sometimes things work, sometimes they don't. And most of the time you have no clue what the difference was. If you were buying a rare and difficult to find water lily, the scientific approach would make sense, but for your everyday run of the mill Wanvisa, pretty much anything is going to be fine.
Thanks for the reminder, the scientific approach isn’t a requirement in all parts of life - it’s tough not to default to that thought process. And really, as long as they don’t die I can get used to whatever they give me.
 
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My elderly neigbor had a very tiny pond (like the size of a plastic kiddie pool) and when her son dredged it in April, she gave me several large plastic pots with their rootball crammed in. I placed the pots in my new pond, and left them alone due to my entire floor being large rock and not being able to actually plant them. Unbeknownst to me at the time, they can survive and flourish like that.

Anyhow, 2 pots went on the deep end and are around 7 feet deep, while 3rd pot is around 18". The ones in deep are centered in the pond and went from nothing but a pot with a giant bulb and whatever pond gunk they dredged and packed in the pot, to more pads than I can count now. White flowers that close at night. Pond sees full sun but the 7 feet deep pots only the pads are getting full son.

The 18" deep one is no where near as established. 1st pic, lower left is the 18" depth pot and handful of pads, both pics taken July 3rd. 2nd pic with central pads 7' roughly and this w/o being planted. Huge difference in my case. Intentionally leaving pot at 18" so tad poles can hide and eat w/o going near deep end.
 

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