When your pond is getting plenty of sun and your water quality is good, you might think it’s time to sit back and relax. Not true if your water lilies are looking like this, overcrowded and growing on top of each other. Water lily leaves keep light from the water and this helps to control algae, but if they cover too much of your pond’s surface area they can actually prevent oxygenation. This can “suffocate” your fish and other plants.
One sure way of knowing it’s time to thin your plants is if you see buds in the water that are unable to rise to the surface and end up decaying below the water.
A rule of thumb if you have fish is there should be no more than 70% of your water surface covered.
When your lilies become too crowed in their pots, they need to be divided (we’ll go over that in a later post). To just thin the lily leaves, take a sharp set of nippers and cut off the leaves as far under the water level as possible. I like to try to thin out about a 1/3 of the leaves from each lily, making sure to thin out all yellowing leaves. Your plant will be healthier in the end and should produce better and more blooms.