Pond Trails

A Taste of the Tropics

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Tropical Lilies vs. Hardy Lilies

Here at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens you will find both hardy lilies and tropical lilies. It's been part of the gardening tradition for over 100 years. Listen to chief gardener Doug Rowley describe the differences between the two types of lilies.

"A Really Big Show"

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Our Lillies

Hardy lilies

Tropical lilies

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Seasons Are Changing

Flowering time is directly related to temperature. Here at Kenilworth, our gardeners have seen warm temperatures earlier. Studies of the mid-Atlantic and DC regions have shown earlier flowering times as temperatures increase.

Warmer air, warmer water temperatures, and the number of high temperature days at Kenilworth’s Aquatic Gardens also have a huge impact on the care of the tropical lilies. Tropical lily leaves sit side-by-side and reduce evaporation from the water surface as the temperature rises.

A Year in the Life

The Care of Tropical Lilies

Gardeners care for the tropical lilies year round. How do you think the lilies are affected by our warming climate?

Dead lotus seed pods in a pond. The water surface is covered by a green film. The sunlight glistens off the surface.

September to October: Before winter, the gardeners dig up the tropical lilies and bring them into the greenhouses.

A person's hand holds a small blackish root-like tuber near a plastic dish filled with sand.

November to January: The gardeners collect the potato-like tubers, pack them in damp sand by mid-December, and store them at 55 degrees Fahrenheit for several months.

The thumb-sized tuber has a few tiny green leaves growing out of it.

February: The gardeners pot the tubers in a heated tank in the greenhouse to sprout. Sprouted tubers are planted in 4-inch pots in the greenhouse.

Inside a greenhouse, a trough along the wall is filled with water and tropical lilies. Some are blooming.

March to April: As the lilies grow, the gardeners replant them in larger pots: 6-inch, 8-inch, sometimes even 12-inch pots.

May to June: When the pond water is 70 to 75 degrees, the gardeners move some lilies outside to test conditions. This is happening earlier with climate change.

A gardener carries lilies in pots to the edge of a concrete, rectangular pool. The  leaves hang down several feet from the pot.

June to July: The gardeners move all of the tropical lilies outside. They fertilize and trim the lilies as they grow. Trimming back leaves fuels the flowering.

Seven pink tropical lilies bloom inches above the lily leaves sitting on the water surface.

August to September: Enjoy the full-blooming tropical lilies! The gardeners will continue to maintain them until it is time to take them into the greenhouse again.

Picture our Parks

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