The Victoria Adventure
and Observations at the
U.S. National Arboretum
Washington, D.C.
2001, 2002 and 2003
By Mark McGuiness
With Kit Knotts
Click images to enlarge

2002 - Full Circle: From Seed to End of Season

Kit & Ben Knotts

Early in 2002, I sent my FIRST e-mail to Kit Knotts inquiring about seed. Her enthusiastic and friendly response began a special relationship which continues to this day (with Ben and Cheech also, of course.)


1. To grow all Victoria lilies from seed for the 2002 Aquatic Garden. To significantly improve the success rate from 2001 by securing the proper equipment and supplies in order to follow the recently updated growing guidelines issued by the Victoria Conservancy. 

2. To grow and display Victoria lilies in varying container sizes in the Aquatic Garden. To maximize the impact of the Aquatic Garden for arboretum customers. The Victoria display (as part of the entire aquatic plant display) was a great success in 2001 and of great interest to our customers - visitors, individuals from other botanical institutions, the media, etc.


An excellent overview of our success in 2002 can be seen in one of the web pieces the arboretum and Kit collaborated on, which was featured on both the arboretum and Victoria-Adventure web sites.

Victoria Water Platters at the U.S. National Arboretum

Germination Data | Germination Notes

Early in June, half of the water drained out of the pool overnight due to a timer malfunction. We started to see algae bloom and anaerobic bacteria decay about 2 weeks later. We stopped all fertilization in early August because of the issue with algae. I did not want to add any additional phosphorus or other nutrients to pool -- trying to get good bacteria to out-compete algae. Effect of stopping fertilization noticeable on plants but not too significant. I assume the plants utilized much of the available nitrate in the water generated by our koi.

Observations on Different Types

V. amazonica - 02A12: started to germinate after 3 weeks. However, overall germination through April into May was good. Actually, overall germination percentage appeared to be one of the highest of all lots. Only type I did not plant into a large pot (3' diameter-1' deep) in the pool - used medium pot ( 23" diameter-7" deep). This was the second year we have grown this species, it does not do great in relation to growth rate, leaf size, etc. Water temperature probably never gets high enough - our pool's max appears to be 85 during a very hot summer. It does bloom.

All other types had one plant grown in large pot and remainder in medium pots.

V. cruziana - 02C34: four seeds germinated rather quickly, I do not recall any further germination of this lot. Great plant - adds contrast to other types. Three plants grown in pool, 1 in large pot and 2 in medium. All 3 performed well - some size difference, large to medium pot, as one would expect but difference not extreme.

'Longwood Hybrid' - 02L57 & 02L58: Both lots did well, had three or four plants from each in pool. If I were to choose 2 types to display it would be LH and cruziana. One of the 02L58 plants persisted the longest, as the weather became colder - random?

'Adventure'-02H07: only 2 plants because I did not treat seed early enough. Great plant - harder to germinate. Adv. has performed very well in the pool the last two years.

'Atlantis'-02HXA61: germination slow, growth rate slower in pool. The plant we had in a large container grew to a good size by September and was quite beautiful.

'Discovery'-02LXA67: seedlings appeared to grow the most vigorously of all types while in warm growing tanks. Growth definitely slowed when put in cooler water of pool. Overall mature growth appeared less than Atlantis.

The response this year to our display was again extremely positive! Thanks, thanks and thanks!

2002 Gallery 1 | 2002 Gallery 2

Looking ahead to 2003, it was clear we could not dedicate the same amount of time and resources to growing Victorias. Plus, we did not just want to repeat what we had done in 2002, but we wanted to do something with impact and purpose. After discussing with Kit, she graciously offered to supply all plants to the arboretum for the 2003 season. She also had an excellent idea to evaluate different Victoria germplasm. We quickly accepted this proposal and I was looking forward to 2003 with excitement because we planned to conduct meaningful evaluation with (perceived) lower input. Things did not exactly turn out as planned…

2003 - Not Expecting the Unexpected >
< 2001 - Setting The Table

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