Photo by Alan Montour

Hardy Waterlily Seeds

by John Blagg

In the summer of 2006, John Blagg of Neelyville, MO, was inspired to try making and growing waterlily seeds. Already a grower of several hardy waterlilies, he acquired N. 'Madame Wilfron Gonnere' and N. 'Mayla', known to be good parents, to experiment. He had questions we couldn't answer regarding hardy waterlily seed germination. We asked him to provide the results of his experiments and he has done so!

August 2006

When is best time to plant hardy waterlily seed and do I need to give them cold treatment to break dormancy? I have planted them in a tub of wet soil and placed them in cooler conditions just in case cold is required.

I am growing two lilies from your list of pod parents to use just for this purpose. I picked two which had been crossed before to ensure seed (N. 'Mayla' and N. 'Madame Wilfron Gonnere'). I got one exceptional seed pod from N. 'Mayla' (no undeveloped seed at all and about 40 seed developed) and a total of four pods. I got one good pod from N. 'Madame Wilfron Gonnere' (good set but not as good as 'Mayla' about 30 seed set but a lot of undeveloped seed also), and a total of two. I cannot tell pollen parents as it is a natural occurrence but I am excited to see what grows out of these.

October 2006

I would like to report seed are germinating very nicely although a little slowly and sporadically from both pod parents. I already have 20 seedlings, five with floating leaves and many more in filiform stage.

I germinated seed both covered up to 1/8 inch of soil and on top of soil with no cover at all. I have not found any difference in resulting germination light or dark. Seed germinated without a dormancy period within a month of collection and are still germinating in spurts. Seeds were planted in container 1 foot deep with 5 inches of water cover to start, placed in south window indoors with a 125 watt compact florescent growlight to supplement on cloudy days and to extend day length. Addition of extra "day length" from the light resulted in more seed germinating at the start. The extra light will be continued through the winter to speed maturity for quicker bloom results.

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