Two rare Victoria water lilies (Victoria ‘Longwood Hybrid’) have grown to an unusually large size at Bok Tower Gardens this summer. Grown in the Reflection Pool near the Singing Tower, each plant has 20 or more lily pads that are five foot in diameter. The pads are big enough to support the weight of a child. The water lily flowers are 12 inch wide and bloom for only two nights before disappearing under the water. The first night’s bloom is pure white and the second’s bloom is bright pink. The blooms are only open at night or in the morning. Visitors are encouraged to arrive to the Gardens before 9:30 am to see the blooms.
“We have been quite surprised at the size and number of pads from this year’s Victoria water lily planting,” says David Price, president of Bok Tower Gardens. “Many are caught off guard when they first see these plants in our Reflection Pool, often asking our gardeners if the pads are real or if they are plastic. People aren’t used to seeing plants that grow this large and they are surprised when we tell them they are grown from a seed the size of a pea.”
The lilies are grown in a hot tub in the Gardens’ greenhouse facilities until the pond water reaches 70 degrees, at which time they are planted out into 100 gallon pots. This year’s mild winter allowed us to set out the Victoria water lilies early, giving them a head start. The young plants have foot wide leaves when planted in the pond but grow very quickly when fed a high nitrogen diet. In 60 days the plants grew from covering 1 square foot to covering over 1500 square feet. The Victoria lilies will grow until cooler fall temperatures arrive in November.