Red Water Lily Leaves: Reasons A Water Lily Has Red Leaves

By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

What do you do if your water lily has red leaves? Usually, the answer is simple, and the health of the plant isn’t affected. Read on to learn more about red leaves on water lilies.

About Water Lilies

Water lilies are low maintenance plants that grow in shallow, freshwater ponds and lakes in tropical and temperate climates. They can also be grown in buckets or large aquariums. The rounded leaves appear to float on the surface of the water, but they actually grow atop long stalks that extend to roots in the soil on the bottom of the pond.

The plants are peaceful and colorful, but water lilies also serve several important functions in the environment. They provide shade that helps cool the water and keeps fish healthier. The waxy leaves provide shelter for fish and a place for frogs to rest where they are protected from predators lurking underwater. Delicate water lily blooms attract dragonflies and butterflies.

What Causes Red Water Lily Leaves?

Is your water lily turning red? Sometimes, chilly temperatures can cause red leaves on water lilies. If this is the case, the leaves will fade back to green when the weather warms up.

Water lily species vary in color and some have a natural purplish or dark red pigmentation.

Some species, including the hardy European white water lily (Nymphaea alba), display reddish leaves when the plants are young, turning bright green with maturity. Tropical night blooming water lily (Nymphaea omarana) has big, bronzy red leaves.

Water lily leaves may turn brownish if the water is too shallow and the leaves dry out. Generally, the leaves regain their greenish color when the water is the correct depth. Water lilies prefer a depth of 18 to 30 inches (45-75 cm.), with 10 to 18 inches (25-45 cm.) of water above the roots.

Water lily leaf spot is a disease that causes concentric reddish spots on the leaves. The leaves will eventually rot and may give the plant an unsightly appearance, but the disease usually isn’t fatal. Just remove affected leaves as soon as they appear.

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Terrestrial Animals

Dogs don’t eat water lilies. However canines cause problems when they go for a dip, blissfully overturning pots. While some dogs can be trained to stay out of the pond, breeds like Labradors have an innate love for water. In those cases some owners solve the problem by giving their lab its own kiddie pool. A harsher solution is the Fido Shock, which delivers a small electrical charge through a wire fence.

The electrical fence can also deter raccoons, who regularly knock over aquatic plant containers. Keep pots away from the pond edges since the raccoons won’t go into deeper water. These critters are very persistent and outwit most devices designed to scare them away. The most effective deterrents are the Fido Shock and the Scarecrow, a sprinkler activated by motion sensor. Move the Scarecrow periodically to increase effectiveness. It also helps to place two at right angles. If deterrents don’t work, check with your animal control departments. Often they’ll provide traps then remove the captured animal. To bait the trap use the unlikely, but extremely successful, delicacy – Twinkies.

Q. goldfish eating my waterlily

I have 4 mature goldfish in my 10 ft x 5 ft pond and lost a 2-yr old waterlily last year because the fish developed a taste for the young emerging leaves. Any solution?

The fish will dine on your plants, that is just how they feed.
They are vegetative by nature.

You can try creating a shelf of soil and rocks at the edge of your pond.
This will help create a division for the plants and fish.

Make sure you are not putting excess food into the pond. The food will settle to the bottom and the fish will get to the food by eating through the plant roots.

Interesting facts about water lilies

Water lilies are freshwater plants.

There are about 70 species of water lilies.

They are native to the temperate and tropical parts of the world.

Water lilies are found in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

Although most water lily species prefer the still waters of ponds and lakes, some can be found growing in slow-flowing rivers and creeks.

Most species of water lilies have rounded, variously notched, waxy-coated leaves on long stalks that contain many air spaces and float in quiet freshwater habitats. The stalks arise from thick, fleshy, creeping underwater stems that are buried in the mud.

The showy, fragrant, solitary flowers are borne at or above the water surface on long stalks that are attached to the underground stems. Each cuplike flower has a spiral arrangement of its numerous petals. Some flowers open only in the morning or in the evening to attract insect pollinators.

The fruit is usually nutlike or berrylike. Some fruits ripen underwater until they rupture or decay, and the seeds then float away or sink.

Native to shallow freshwater lakes and bayous in the Amazon basin, the world’s largest water lily is Victoria amazonica [photo below], whose gigantic floating leaves measure up to 3 m (10 ft) across, and are held in place upon an underwater stalk from 7 to 8 m (23 to 26 ft) long. The undersurface of its leaves are supported by a sturdy series of rib-like crossridges to keep the leaves flat and also prevent them from collapsing. Indeed, it is the pattern of these ribs that is said to have inspired the network of metal girders around which the Crystal Palace was built for the Great Exhibition in London, UK, of 1851.

The smallest documented species of water lily is Nymphaea thermarum [photo below], also known as the thermal lily has pads 10-20 mm (0.3-0.6 in) across. The thermal lily is now believed to be extinct in the wild. Its only natural habitiat was a single thermal pool in Mashyuxa, Rwanda and a change in conditions due to agricultural use is thought to have changed conditions in the pool such that the pool became uninhabitable for the plant. However, hotriculturalist Carlos Magdalena (Spain) was able to save the lily from extinction by successfully germinating stored seeds at Kew Gardens, London, UK in November 2009.

These plants are very popular in part due to their pleasing looks and fragrant scent.

They can also provide habitat and food for fish and wildlife. These qualities make water lilies popular plants for use in aquatic gardening.

Water lilies are a well studied plants, because their large flowers with multiple unspecialized parts were initially considered to represent the floral pattern of the earliest flowering plants.

On 3 May 2002, scientists announced the discovery of the fossilised remains of the earliest flowering plant discovered to date. At least 125 million years old, and named Archaefructus sinensis (ancient fruit from China), it was found in a slab of stone in northeast China and is possibly the ancestor of all the flowering plants in the world today. Its closest living relative may be the water lilly, as the ancient plant lived in clear shallow water, with its flowers and seeds extending above the surface.

Water Lilies is a series of approximately 250 oil paintings by French Impressionist Claude Monet (1840–1926). The paintings depict his flower garden at his home in Giverny, and were the main focus of his artistic production during the last thirty years of his life. Many of the works were painted while Monet suffered from cataracts.

The white water lily is the national flower of Bangladesh and state flower for Andhra Pradesh, India.

The blue waterlily is the national flower of Sri Lanka.

The seal of Bangladesh contains a lily floating on water.

Water lily is also the birth flower for Pisces.


Use a strong spray from a garden hose to wash away black aphids, spider mites, beetles and their larvae and eggs. Because aphids may come from eggs deposited on nearby plum or cherry trees, treat those trees with dormant oil to kill overwintering eggs. Apply the oil in early spring, before the eggs hatch. Follow all package instructions. Remove and destroy any larval cocoons of China mark moths you find floating in the water or attached to the lily's leaves.

Be sure to check the underside of the leaves. Pick off larvae by hand whenever you spot them. Adult beetles spend the winter hiding in nearby plant debris, so keep all dead foliage away from and out of the pond or water garden.

If washing and wiping away the pests don't work, take the plants out of the water and place them in a separate container. Use an insecticide or insecticidal soap to kill the insects, then rinse the plants, and put them back into the pond or water feature.

  • Use a strong spray from a garden hose to wash away black aphids, spider mites, beetles and their larvae and eggs.
  • Use an insecticide or insecticidal soap to kill the insects, then rinse the plants, and put them back into the pond or water feature.

Watch the video: red water lilys on small dram

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