Tropical waterlilies may be propagated by more
than just viviparous propagation...
Tropical Waterlily Tuber
by Sean Stevens
Click images to enlarge
Here is a tutorial on how to take starts from tropical waterlily
Tropical waterlilies can be propagated by many means and this
one method is the most common amongst tropical waterlily growers.
New tropical waterlilies will grow and bloom all year long
showing wonderful displays of color above the surface of the
water but as the days progress something remarkable is happening
under the soil. A tropical waterlily will produce a tuber that
the plant uses to sustain itself in times of drought allowing
the plant a chance at survival. In times of drought in the waterlilies
natural habitat what happens is the pads will die off and the
tuber will remain below the soil and becomes quite nut-like,
protecting the tuber through the dry season. Once the rains return
and the tuber becomes moist again it will send up new growth
from the terminal crown and a new plant will be born.
Now, as tropical waterlily hobbyists, we can duplicate this
natural process and utilize the tuber to produce additional waterlilies
from the same tuber. Once new growth begins to show itself on
the tuber and there are visible roots, the new plantlet can be
removed from the tuber to form a new plant which in time will
also form its own tuber.
Here is a picture of what the growth would look like when it
is time to pinch the new plantlet from the tuber. >
< Notice that the plantlet has sufficient roots to sustain
the new start once it is removed from the tuber to help it grow
on. Removing the start any sooner would be futile since the plantlet
needs the roots to provide nutrition to the plantlet for good
growth and assurance of health.
> This photo shows the area where the roots join up
to the plantlet. These roots are not actually sustaining the
tuber but are in fact attached to the plantlet itself. Just below
the root zone is where you will pinch off the plantlet from the
tuber. Great care must be taken to achieve this operation or
you could kill the new plantlet by severing it in the wrong place.
A gentle pinch and twist is all that is required to remove
the plantlet from the tuber. Notice that the roots are still
attached to the plantlet. This is a successful tuber separation.
Sometimes as shown at the left you will have more than one
plantlet growing from the tuber. In this case I did remove the
second plantlet because it also has root growth that was sufficient
to sustain the new plantlet.
In the photo at the right you see the separated plantlet and
the tuber side by side. If you notice there is already new growth
on the tuber at this time, forming new plantlets that can be
grown on for a few weeks until they are large enough to also
be removed from the tuber.
It is at this point that you would pot up your tuber and the
new plantlet. A small nursery pot is sufficient for the first
few weeks until the tuber produces new growth and in the other
pot the plantlet becomes pot bound. The new plantlet can then
be potted up to its final growing pot and placed out in the pond
to flourish. Now let's not forget about the tuber that we potted
< This picture is from one week later. As you can see
there are three new plantlets forming. In a couple of weeks they
will be large enough to be pinched from the tuber and also grown
on to flourish and produce tubers of their own.
One final note on propagating tropical lilies by this method.
Sooner or later the propagating tuber will become exhausted and
stop producing new starts. If utilized for too long the tuber
would surely die. I recommend figuring that a good number of
starts to expect from a tuber in one season is from 3 to 5. After
that you should consider that your tuber is tired and needs to
get some vitality back. By leaving one start on the tuber, potting
it up and leaving it to grow on for the rest of the season, the
plantlet will feed the mother propagating tuber and nurse it
back to health as well as form an additional tuber on the plantlet.
Given a good season to be nursed back to health, the propagating
tuber can be removed and the process started over again for additional
I would urge everyone to try this method of propagating so
you can share your lilies with others and give yourself a chance
to trade and collect other exciting specimens you do not have
in your collection.
Profile - Sean Stevens