How To Grow Water Lilies From Seed

Growing water lilies from seed is a great way to beautify your garden pond without spending a lot of money. 

It’s also very satisfying to grow the plants from seed instead of buying them already established.

In this article I’ll show you how to plant water lily seeds in your pond or water garden.

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growing water lily seeds

Water lilies (Nymphaea spp.), are one of the most popular flowering pond plants.

They’re part of the Nymphaeaceae family and produce round green leaves and stunning flowers that sit on the water.

Water lilies are divided into two main groups – hardy and tropical. [1]

Hardy water lilies can tolerate cool conditions and frost, but tropical varieties are only suitable for warm climates.

Hardy water lilies need a period of cold weather to go dormant for proper growth the following year, while tropical water lilies prefer warm temperatures year round.

There are over 80 species of tropical water lilies that can grow and flower in temperate climates.

Water lilies produce large, sweet smelling flowers that can be pink, white, purple, red or yellow depending on the species. 

Cool pond in summer


Collecting the seeds

Collecting seeds from your water lily plants is fairly simple.

As the flower starts to fade, cover it with a piece of cheesecloth or a fabric bag and tie it shut.

After the seed pod has burst open you can remove the bag and shake the seeds into a container filled with water and leave them for about a week.

Remove any seeds that are still floating on the top of the water because they’re not viable.

Collect the seeds from the bottom of the container and plant them straight away or wrap them in a paper towel and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to plant them.

If you don’t have access to fresh water lily seeds you can buy them online and from specialty nurseries.

make a lily pond

Planting water lily seeds

Water lily seeds can be planted in a container filled with heavy topsoil or clay soil.

Avoid using regular potting mix because it’s too light and will float to the top of the water when you place the pot in the pond.

Press the seeds gently into the soil using your finger.

Water lily seeds need warm soil to germinate so place the pot in a warm, sunny spot and fill it up to the top with water.

It can take the seeds three to four weeks to germinate depending on the variety and the weather conditions.

When the seedlings are about 2 inches (5 cm) tall you can transplant them into separate containers.

growing water lily plants

Caring for seed grown water lily plants

After the seeds have sprouted and the first leaves have begun to appear you can place the pot in a shallow part of the pond.

You may also like to add a layer of gravel or small pebbles to help keep the soil in the pot when it’s submerged in the pond.

As the plants grow you can move the pot to a deeper part of the pond.


Fertilizing water lily plants will help to produce strong plants with lots of flowers, but wait until the plants have a few leaves on the surface of the water before you start fertilizing them.

I like to use aquatic plant fertilizer tablets that you can push into the soil.

Water lily plants grown from seed usually only produce foliage in the first year but by the second year you should have an abundance of beautiful flowers on the surface of your pond.

full sun pond plants

So there are my tips for starting water lily plants from seed.

Water lilies not only help to beautify garden ponds and water gardens, they also help to provide shade for pond fish and keep the water temperature cooler in summer.


Have you had success growing water lily flowers from seed? Let me know in the comments below.

Are you on Pinterest? I have boards dedicated to Pond Plants and Water Gardens that you may find interesting.

planting water lily seeds

Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin, a landscape gardener with a special interest in ponds and water gardens. For over a decade, I've been designing and creating beautiful gardens that feature stunning water features, from small garden ponds to large water gardens. Read more