What is the difference between a Tropical Water lily and a Hardy Water lily?

What is the difference between a Tropical Water lily and a Hardy Water lily?

This is a great question that I get asked very often. They are both very beautiful in their own way. But there are some big differences.

Hardy water lilies retain their leaves all year long. So in the cold winter months although small they will have leaves.

Tropical water lilies do not. When it gets colder than 55 degrees they will go back to a bulb state and the pot will look completely empty.

Hardy water lilies are grown from long root looking things called “rhizomes”. Rhizomes have small bumps or “eyes” on them that will sprout into a new plant. These new plant eyes can be cut from the rhizome and planted in their own pot making a new plant.

Tropical water lilies are grown from bulbs. In the dormant winter months the bulb will go back into a carbohydrate bulb state. This helps the plant to retain energy to regrow the following spring. In this dormant state they will also produce little baby bulbs that can be repotted into their own pots the following spring as well.

Hardy water Lilies come in a large assortment of colors.

My personal favorites are as follows

  • Red Hardy water lily -“James Brydon”.
  • Pink hardy water lily – “Mayla”
  • Yellows best Hardy – “Sunrise”.  “
  • Wanvisa” won the best Hardy water lily in 2010 at the international water lily festival is a great Orange.
  • White Hardy water  lily – “Gonnere”

Tropical water Lilies come in a large assortment of colors

My personal favorites are as follows

  • Blue tropical water lily –     Blue Beauty
  • Purple tropical -               Panama Pacific
  • Red tropical water lily-     Bullseye
  • Yellow tropical water lily-    Yellow dazzler
  • White tropical water lily-     Innocence
  • Pink tropical water lily-     Pink Capensis
  • Autumn Shades-         Afterglow

Also Tropical water lilies have two sub categories- Viviparous and Night blooming Viviparous means that small plantlets will sprout and grow in the middle of the leaves. Examples of Viviparous tropical water lilies would be Dauben, Madam Ganna Walska or Queen of Siam.

Night Blooming tropicals are nice if you like to enjoy your pond in the evening. They will open aprox at 5pm and stay open until 10am.

Day blooming tropicals and Hardy waterlilies typically bloom from 10 am to as late as 6pm.

The biggest difference between Tropical and Hardy water lilies is their blooming habits. If both are fertilized properly Tropicals will bloom at least 20 times more often with considerably larger blooms. Also it is know that Tropicals are a bit more sensitive than Hardys to cold temperatures in some areas Tropicals are referred to as annuals. But in Zones 8-10 they are expected to winter very well coming back year after year the same as the Hardy water lilies.

We are lucky in southern California to be able to enjoy either year after year making our ponds beautiful!

If you have any questions about the Tropical Water Lily or Hardy Water Lily for your pond, please visit our full service Pond Supply store or call Sunland Water Gardens @ 818-353-5131

Tropical water lilies, Water lilies for sale, water lilies for ponds

Tropical water lilies, Water lilies for sale, water lilies for ponds


Pond talk Article: What is the difference between a Tropical Water lily and a Hardy Water lily?
Source: Sunland Water Gardens
Pond Talk Author: Jacklyn Rodman


What is the difference between a

Tropical Water lily

and a Hardy Water lily?

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