How to Plant Water Lily Bulbs in an Aquarium?

Water lilies are beautiful plants that are easy to take care of and plant in your house or aquarium.

If you’re growing water lilies in an aquarium, you don’t have to worry much about their growth— you just have to ensure that your fish tank gets a lot of Sun and cut old flowers and leaves to avoid the whole plant from rotting.

If you want to learn more about growing water lily bulbs in your aquarium, then read ahead.

By following these small and easy steps, you will be able to grow water lilies in your aquarium with ease.

Planning Your Lily Bulbs in the Aquarium

It is always a good idea to plan something first rather than haphazardly deciding to do it.

If you’re thinking of growing water lily bulbs in your aquarium, start planning your garden.

Start with planting water lily bulbs in small pots instead of on the ground.

Make sure to use a big pot or even a mesh basket, which is specially made for aquatic planting.

Step 1

Your container or small pot should have a diameter of 15 to 16 inches.

The good part about planting water lilies in a pot is that it is quite easy to maintain them.

If you plant water lilies directly into the ground, it could overwhelm your aquarium water.

When water lilies are planted in the ground, within 5 years, their root system can cover at least a diameter of 15 feet.

If you’re wondering where you can get a mesh basket or aquatic soil, simply buy them online or visit your nearest garden center.

You can also plant your lilies in an aquatic planter first and then transfer them to your tank.

Simply fill your aquatic planter with water and keep the pot that holds the lilies inside it.

Try to go for an aquatic planter that is around 5 to 7 feet and make certain it’s made for all sorts of aquatic plants and does not have any holes for drainage.

Step 2

After you’ve planted your water lily bulbs, you have to take care of them if you want them to grow.

Always make sure your water lily bulbs get at least 7 to 9 hours of sun every day.

Water lilies need around 7 hours of minimum sunlight every day, but if you want them to grow flowers much quicker, try keeping them in the sun for a little longer.


If you want your water lily bulbs to grow faster and thrive with little attention, a good idea is to plant them in the spring.

Late April to early May is the ideal time to plant water lilies in your aquarium since it is not too hot or too cold.

There are two types of water lilies: hardy and tropical. Hardy water lilies can handle cool temperatures, but it’s still best to grow them in April or May.

With tropical lilies, it is a good idea to check if your aquarium is warm since tropical water lilies can’t handle water temperatures that are below 18 degrees.

Just make sure your aquarium can tolerate and support warm water before planting the first water lily.

The ideal water temperature for tropical water lilies should be around 21 degrees or more.

Another helpful tip is to buy lilies with healthy crowns and leaves.

These can be easily found in your local nurseries or nearby garden centers. Just make sure the plants have healthy crowns.

Always look for stems that can be easily pulled from the crown. Try to avoid yellow, curling, and damaged leaves.

A rotting crown and yellow leaves are two common signs of a diseased plant.

Both these signs indicate a fungal infection that can spread to the whole plant and might cause all your water lilies to die.

Planting a Water Lily in the Aquarium

After picking the perfect time of the year, the best location and the optimal temperature – it’s time to plant the water lily.

Step 1

Start with filling a container with aquatic soil. Aquatic soil is better than standard potting soil because the latter will simply float away when submerged.

Fill 3/4ths of the container with soil and then add aquatic fertilizer.

The amount of fertilizer that you need to add depends completely on your product, so a good idea is to read the instruction for the fertilizers after you purchase it.

A normal ratio is 10 grams of fertilizer for 1 gallon of soil.

Step 2

Before placing it in the aquarium, pull the lily out of its old pot and wash it to clean all the soil from its root system.

Cut the old roots while leaving the white hair-like roots in their place so they can grow in the aquatic soil in your aquarium.

If you don’t see any old, fleshy roots simply skip the trimming.

Step 3

After you’ve pulled the lily out of its pot, it’s time to put it in the aquarium. Start with setting the lily’s root ball at the top of the soil at the very side of your tank.

Keep in mind that the crown has to be at a 45-degree angle, pointing toward the center of the tank.

After a few days, if your water lily still hasn’t grown, you can try positioning the top at the same level as the soil to ensure that your plant is exposed to maximum sunlight.

Step 4

The next step is to simply add more soil and a top layer of pea gravel. When adding more soil, try not to fill the container with too much aquatic soil.

After you’re done adding soil, pack it, add pea gravel to prevent the soil from floating away, and keep it in one place.

Before adding the gravel on top of the soil, rinse it thoroughly.

Do not add the gravel around the stems if your water lily isn’t mature and do not forget to leave some space in the gravel for the plant’s growing tip.

Step 5

After you’ve added the top layer and pea gravel, the next step is to water the fish tank.

Soak the container with a hose and then lower it into your aquatic planter (if you have one.).

For the first few weeks, completely submerge the pot until at least 5 to 6 inches of water cover the leaves and the crown.

For maximum sunlight, make sure to keep your aquarium in a room that has big windows so it can get a lot of sunlight.

If you want your water lilies to grow faster, try keeping your tank at a low height as that it enhances their growth.

Taking Care of Water Lily Bulbs

Planting water lilies is just the beginning. If you want your plants to thrive, make sure to follow the tips below.


Make certain to place your plant pot in shallow water.

After 3 weeks, you should lower the pot, so at least 10 inches of water covers the crown of your plant.

As the water lily grows, simply lower it until at least 18 inches of water covers the crown.

If you plant your water lilies in April, you should see flowers sprouting in June.

Flowers may last up to 3 to 4 days, so make sure to trim and remove them as soon as they wither or start to rot.

If you let rotting plants grow in your aquarium, it can affect other plants and your fish and lead to a bad odor.

Cleaning will not only keep your water clean but also make way for new flowers to grow.

A good idea is to fertilize your water lilies every month, especially during spring. Water lilies are extremely hungry plants; hence, they should be fertilized slowly.

You can do that by exposing them to aquatic formula every 4 to 6 weeks, which will keep them growing.

To ensure that your lily is being fertilized, you can always take the container out of the water and check.

Just clear out holes that may form in the soil by using your fingers.

If your aquarium is placed in a cold room, try moving it to a warmer room when the temperature drops below 18 degrees; otherwise, your tropical lilies may die. If your hardy water lily freezes, no need to panic.

Simply winterize it by keeping the pot in warm water. If you can’t keep the entire pot, just cut the leaves and then apply some fungicide.

If you want your water lilies to thrive for years, divide an overgrown lily every couple of years.

The best time to do this is spring so that the new plants start growing in optimal weather.

Start with removing the root ball from the small container and wash away all the soil from the water lily roots. If you see any stems or growing tips, you can cut them with a knife.

Make sure to cut 3 inches, which will easily divide the root ball into many different tips. Just plant each tip in a separate pot and then place them in your aquarium.

Growing water lilies is easy, but taking care of them to make sure they don’t die requires work.

Simply make sure to follow the steps mentioned above to plant water lily bulbs in your aquarium and to take care of them so they keep thriving for years.

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