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Water Lily Transplant Team


At the pizza place last night, I told my kids I was planning on taking the water lily out of the pond to repot, and asked if they would help. They did not respond enthusiastically.
I clarified by saying I wanted to blog about it, so I would need photos.  I won’t say they were eager…the only eagerness came from each not wanting the other to get to use the camera. Oh well, I’ll take any assistance I can get.
To prep, I checked my pond reference book “The Pond Doctor” which has enough illustrations to be useful, but not so many that it counts as a coffee table book. The directions for repotting recommend lining a basket with burlap, then adding clay soil, then removing the lily from the pond, rinsing the old soil off, cutting off any dead material, and placing the rhizome at a 45 degree angle with the growing tip at the center, then covering with gravel, then placing it back in the pond in shallow water, until it starts growing. Whew. That seems doable.

The water on top is warmer than in the depths of the horse trough, but not by much right now. My “shallow water” zone is a couple of cinder blocks I placed at the south end of the trough, one vertical and the other horizontal. They make a stand for plants, and the holes create happy little hiding places for the fish.
Step 1 Basket: I got a basket at the dollar store. It cost a dollar… I ran into a preschool mommy- Someone I hadn’t talked to since we stood around waiting to pick up our kids, 5 years ago. We had a nice discussion about what size basket I should get for the water lily. Actually, we talked mostly about how big the kids were getting, and our conclusion about the water lily was that I might as well get 2 sizes of basket, since they were only a dollar.

Step 2 Burlap: I bought a yard at the hobby store, which is conveniently in the same mini mall as the dollar store. I cut it in half and crisscrossed it in the basket.

We used the bigger basket- the recently fished out lily is in the smaller one.

We used the bigger basket- the recently fished out lily is in the smaller one.

Step 3 Clay soil:   easy to find, in theory, since my yard is nothing but clay. I found an inconspicuous spot to dig a bucket full.

Step 4 Remove lily: When I fished the lily out of the pond, I was surprised at the size. I bought it two years ago in a mesh bag the size you might buy garlic in. There wasn’t any soil in the bag originally, I don’t think, just some gravel to make it sink, which made

Step 5 Rinse soil off rhizome  very easy. I cut away most of the mesh, and

Step 6 Trim: I cut away the mucky stems and leaves from last summer.  Kate was appalled by the smell. She is the one who won the “I get to take pictures” argument.  Honestly, it wasn’t that bad- if pond smell is the only thing keeping you from repotting a water plant, get over it.

Extreme close-up of fresh growth.

Extreme close-up of fresh growth.

Step 7 45 degree angle:  I nestled the rhizome into the soil at an angle, leaving the growing tip out of the soil in the center of the basket.Then I wrapped the lose ends of the burlap up around the soil on top.

Step 8 Gravel: I know I have a bucket of gravel around somewhere- I am sure it will turn up in the spring cleanup. When I find it, I will put some scoops of it on top of the burlap, to keep the soil from making the water cloudy.   That’s a little joke- the water is pretty cloudy on its own right now.

Next fall, I'm going to put some kind of a screen on top so we don't get a tree's worth of leaves in the pond. It's pretty darn gross.

Next fall, I’m going to put some kind of a screen on top so we don’t get a tree’s worth of leaves in the pond. It’s pretty darn gross.

Step 9 Shallow water: I placed the basket on one of the cinder blocks very gently. Some bubbles came up from the burlap, but fortunately the soil was pretty moist already. If it had been dry, I would have had to hold the bundle down until the air bubbles had all come up out of the soil, and it was fully moistened.

Step 10 Scrub arms: Okay, Kate, you’re right, it is pretty stinky, and my right arm, which is the one that went into the water to get the plant, is pretty gross smelling.

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