The universal symbol of the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris was the Eiffel Tower, but to pondkeepers it could well have been the hardy water lily cultivars introduced there by Joseph Bory Latour-Marliac. Among the attendees was Claude Monet, who was so impressed and inspired that he purchased all the water lilies for his garden at Giverny from Latour- Marliac and then went on to feature them in what has probably become one of the best- known series of paintings in history.
Latour-Marliac was the greatest hybridizer
of water lilies. He crossed semitropical or
tropical varieties with native European species
to create over 100 hardy lily cultivars, some
of which were not introduced to the world
Comanche is a dynamic lily that will change coloration throughout the day.
10 hardy cultivars for this article led me
down to a final choice of 13, 10 of which
were developed by Marliac. The three that
didn’t quite make the top 10 are Gloriosa,
Andreana, and Hermine.
Sioux is a good choice for those wanting a lily that stays open well into the evening.
market until after his death in 1911. In 1875,
he had founded his aquatic plant nursery
on four hectares of land near the village of
Le-Temple-sur-Lot, southeast of Bordeaux,
where it continues operations today.
Many others have followed in his footsteps
in developing water lily cultivars. Among
the most notable are two Americans who
developed new cultivars in the latter part
of 20th century: Kirk Strawn, who worked
in Texas, and Perry Slocum, who worked in
Mention should also be made of two
gentlemen who were born in England in
the 1800s and later emigrated to the United
States, both after completing apprenticeships
at the Royal Botanic Garden in Kew. William
Tricker started a nursery in New Jersey that
he later sold to William Dreer in 1897 and
then stayed on to serve as lead grower. He
eventually left to open another nursery of his
own in New Jersey in 1906. His son Charles
opened a nursery that still bears William’s
name in Independence, Ohio in 1930.
Hardy Water Lilies
These lilies should be planted in a
clay soil that is rich in minerals or a
commercially prepared potting mix for
water lilies. Gravel should be added to the
top of the planting container to keep the
substrate from clouding the water. It is
important to plant them in a container—if
they’re planted directly in the bottom of a
natural pond, they will spread unchecked
and eventually take over. Hardy water
lilies grow on a rhizome, and the growing
tip of the rhizome must be kept above the
substrate when planting it. The top of the
substrate should be 6 to 18 inches below
the water surface.
Hardy lilies can be propagated by taking
cuttings from the rhizome similar to the
way that one takes cuttings from Anubias
plants in the aquarium. The lilies should
be planted in a location that receives at
least six hours of sunlight per day. Some
varieties will do well with less light, so if
your water garden receives less than six
hours of sunlight, be sure to research the
needs of the varieties you’re considering
prior to purchase.
Hardy lily pads have smooth, rounded edges.
Regular fertilization with a commercially
prepared water lily fertilizer will increase the
number of blooms and the overall vigor of
the plant. Most varieties carry the flowers at
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