Are your Water Lilies taking over?

Are your Water Lilies taking over?

This week’s gardener’s question is about dividing the tubers of water lilies and comes from Paul Theother of South Mimms. He asks:

“I have a garden pond which is so full of water lilies that the other plants are being swamped. Can I divide and repot them or is it necessary to start afresh?”

Yes Paul, now’s the time to remove the plants from the pond and divide them. You can do this at any time between April and June. Cut the tubers into smaller pieces so that each contains a number of ‘eyes’ from which the new leaves are produced. Tie back the long, straggly roots and plant them individually in large baskets to help contain their growth, using aquatic compost and gravel to help to weigh them down. They should be put into the pond at a depth where they can send their flowers to the surface – this will depend on the variety and maturity of the plant.

Another plant that benefits from dividing, and which can yield many more plants as a result, is the Flag Iris.

If you want to do this then wait until after they have flowered. Lift the rhizomes (the tuberous roots), with a fork and discard the older pieces. The outer, younger growth will provide you with your new plants – this is where most of the new horizontal growth will occur. Having cut away the the old part of the rhizome to leave only a small part of this season’s growth and with some roots and leaves attached, trim the leaves back just above the point where they begin to spread out, leaving a small fan.

Replant or pot these up in soil which has had organic matter added – but don’t overdo it. Leave the top of the rhizome visible, so that they look rather like a crocodile in a lake! If you have a windy garden you can plant them slightly deeper – or try to place them somewhere where they won’t be toppled or suffer windrock. The shortest varieties of tuberous Iris can be left undivided for several years, whereas taller varieties should be divided regularly after flowering – usually every third year.

Here’s a picture gallery from Wikihow.

Iris 'Samurai Warrior'- the closest breeders have come to a red Iris

Iris ‘Samurai Warrior’- the closest breeders have come to a red Iris

Further information:

Lifting and dividing irises

A-Z of Perennials: I is for Iris

Do you have a gardening question I can help with? If so please email me at: nbold@btinternet.com

Old School Gardener

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