Two gorgeous Victoria water lilies (Victoria ‘Longwood Hybrid’) are stealing the show this summer in Bok Tower Gardens’ reflection pool near the Singing Tower. Their gigantic pads will most likely reach an immense size of six to seven feet in diameter, leaving guests in wonder and questioning if they are living plants or something out of a science fiction novel.
We can assure you that these beautiful specimens are indeed real and are actually large enough to support the weight of a child. In fact, the lilies are grown from a seed the size of a pea before they are eventually transplanted into the reflection pool in late spring.
The water lily flowers are 12 inches wide and bloom for only two nights before disappearing under the water. The first night’s bloom is pure white and the second night’s bloom is bright pink. The blooms are only open at night or in the morning before being exposed to direct sunlight. Visitors are encouraged to arrive to the Gardens just after opening in order to see the blooms.
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 barely have foot-wide leaves when planted in the pond, but grow very quickly when fed a high nitrogen diet. They begin by covering just one square foot, but will eventually grow to cover more than 1,500 square feet! The Victoria lilies will grow until cooler fall temperatures arrive in early November.