Viviparous Tropical Waterlily Propagation

by Sean Stevens - Click images to enlarge

Tropical waterlilies which are considered viviparous have an alternative means of vegetative propagation: they produce plants from their leaves!

I wanted to take a few minutes and go over some of the strategies I have developed to hasten the growth of a viviparous tropical lily. I have had such great success with my method that I have produced blooming plants in just 20 days. Due to my limited holding area for lilies I have been keeping them in smaller pots and by doing this I get less growth and thus slower vivip production.

While most people would leave a new vivip node alone on the parent plant to grow on by itself I have gone one step further and had great success by removing the whole pad once the vivip fuzzies are apparent and there is indeed a node on the pad. With some tropical lilies this is as soon as the pad first unfurls. 

One note on this method, Leaving the pad on the parent plant for a longer period of time usually prohibits growth of the viviparous node until just before the pad begins to decay. Removing the pad earlier promotes growth of the viviparous node much faster than leaving it attached to the mother plant.

 Once I have the pad removed I bring it in to my propagating tank. (a Rubbermaid 35 gallon tub) and place it on the bottom of the tank and weigh it down with a rock. I use 75 watt grow lamps above the tank to heat the water and give the plants light. I keep these lights on for 18 hours a day and they in turn warm the water to an even 80F.
 Within 3 days I have starter leaves forming on the pads, and within 6 days the plantlets have formed tiny rootlets. At this 6th day point when the roots are showing I pot the new plantlet up into a small propagating pot. Over the next 2 weeks the plantlet grows at an astounding rate and is large enough to pot up further and set out into a display pond.

< This first picture is a pad that was brought in and grown under the method above for 3 days.

This next one is the stage two at 6 days. This is how it would look before potting up. >

< This one shows the plantlet at 10 days. Notice the flower bud on the center left of the plant.

This last one shows the plant at 30 days. It is the one on the right of the picture. >


 As you can see, my method greatly speeds up producing a fully mature blooming plant in a very short period of time. I have also had great success with people mailing me pads with a viviparous node and growing them out. I currently have two 'Blue Bird' vivips growing out that were mailed to me and a couple 'Lindsey Woods' pads that are also growing out that were mailed to me.

A few additional points to consider to keep your small plantlets growing quickly:

All vivips grow better if the lighting is very high in the blue spectrum. Plants require high levels of blue light for growth and root development. Red spectrum light is great for getting them to bloom. A 75 watt floodlight-style grow light with a blue/purple coating will give you a good combination of both of these spectrums. These bulbs can be purchased at places like Home Depot for approximately $4.00.

Additionally your water temps should be at 80F - 90F for very fast development. I just keep the grow light a few inches above the water and the vivips about 1-2 inches below the water surface. With those conditions and the proper grow lamps, your vivips should be blooming size within a month. I have had them blooming in 20 - 30 days from the time I remove the vivip from the parent plant.

I would encourage people to try this method.

Profile - Sean Stevens

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