Growing Australians
Day Blooming Tropical Waterlilies
From The Subgenus Anecphya

Kit Knotts with Andre Leu and Craig Presnell
Click images to enlarge

Australian waterlilies are among the most beautiful grown but they are notoriously tricky! They require some special conditions and care that can be well worth the effort.

Craig Presnell writes, "I would caution anyone interested to realize what it is you will be dealing with. These are LARGE waterlilies. Pads can exceed 20" and they have a huge sprawling habit...not the stuff for container gardens. They are also heat lovers, really best grown in the southern tier with long hot summers. If that isn't enough, they are temperamental lilies and nothing like the commonly available day bloomer types. Sneeze in their general direction and they may go dormant. On the bright side, N. gigantea 'Albert de Lestang' is the most stable of the bunch."

Andre Leu writes, "The high 80s to low 90s is best to get seeds and tubers going. Once they send up floating leaves, the temperature can be gradually lowered to the low 80s. These species are very temperamental at temperatures below 80. Sometimes they will flower well and sometimes they will go dormant, especially with a stretch of cool overcast days. They need lots of sun. The most successful growers keep them constantly warm and use good strong light. They are heavy feeders. I always use a nutrient rich compost and cover the top of the pot with coarse sand or fine gravel."

Adding our own experience to this, we agree that gigantea 'Albert de Lestang' is the easiest of the Anecphya lilies. It does require warm water for tubers to start but then can tolerate variations that others cannot. It usually blooms right through the winter for us here in Florida (USDA Zone 10) and adult plants quit in the spring, about the time tubers are starting up. We grow it in sand but fertilize regularly.

According to Andre, seeds of gigantea must be kept in water to remain viable but others in the subgenus can be stored dry. Seeds can be started as other waterlily seeds but at slightly higher temperatures.

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