Water lilies in ponds

Water Lily Control

We recommend using Glyposate 5.4 and a surfactant for easy control of water lilies. Check out our Water Lily Control products.

Water lilies are colonial plants rising from creeping stems called rhizomes, like a branching shrub on its side. The creeping rootstock of underground rhizomes is one means of reproduction to rapidly spread water lilies locally.

Water lilies can quickly ruin a pond or lake’s visual and recreational benefits. Control is best achieved through killing of the root system by application of herbicide to the leaves above the water. Cutting water lilies under the waterline 2 or 3 times to drown them can actually stimulate growth. Pulling them out by the roots can be impractical.

Using our treatment method, herbicide travels throughout the plant, killing both the roots and vegetative portions. Simply spray on the leaves of the water lilies above the surface of the water.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to us about water lily control, please feel free to call us at: 1-877-428-8898

Identifying Water Lilies

The yellow water lily has large heart-shaped leaves between 8 and 16 inches that float on the surface. Leaf veins extend laterally from midrib. It’s flower is bright yellow, with a single row of petals.

The white water lily has large, round, cleft (cut about halfway to the mid-vein) leaves, about 6 to 12 inches in diameter. The underside of the leaf is purplish-red and the flower is white with multiple rows of petals.

Water lilies are common in shallow water throughout the United States. They are sometimes intentionally planted for aesthetics or as a fish habitat, but can become quite prolific and create problems in some areas.

Both White Water Lily and Yellow Water Lily prefer a muck or silt bottom, and can withstand a wide variance in pH.

For easy Waterlily control, we recommend using our Water Lily Control products.

Water Lily Weed Control: Learn About Water Lily Management In Ponds

Natural or man-made ponds in the garden landscape can serve a variety of purposes. While some may choose to create a fish pond, other homeowners may focus more on the aesthetic aspect of this water feature. Regardless, the presence of plant life is an integral part of a healthy pond ecosystem. Aquatic plants, such as the water lily, serve many purposes too. In addition to creating oxygen, aquatic plants provide necessary habitat for wildlife. However, controlling water lilies (and other plants) is especially important when plant cover becomes too thick.

Water Lily Weed Info

Though beautiful, water lily management is necessary when plants begin to invade the vast majority of the pond. Too many plants growing in the water may be a major cause for concern, such as the reduction of available oxygen (which the plants absorb at night) and negative impact on the overall health of fish. However, water lily management may be somewhat challenging.

How to Stop Water Lilies

As one would imagine, the underwater nature of these plants makes water lily control quite interesting. In most cases, the easiest way in which to manage water lily weed is through prevention. Newly introduced waterlily plantings should always be made in the form of potted plantings, as this will help to reduce the likelihood that the plant will be able to spread through underground rhizomes.

In already established plantings, there are some other options for controlling water lilies. Removing the roots and rhizomes of the plant is possible, however, difficult. In most cases, this process will require tools specifically designed for the removal of aquatic weeds. Care also must betaken, as incomplete removal may cause the spread of the rhizomes.

Many growers choose to implement the use of weed barrier within the pond. Simply, pond weed barrier is placed at the bottom of the body of water after all water lily stalks and foliage have been removed. This barrier does not allow sunlight to reach the rhizomes, thus ensuring that they do not return.

Chemical herbicides are also an option for the elimination of water lilies from ponds. However, if choosing to implement these practices, it is imperative to only use products that have been specifically identified for use in ponds. Before use, always read all precaution and instruction labels in order to ensure its safe use.

Nymphaea spp.

Non-Herbicide Management Options

1. Physical Management Options

Water lily can be cut and removed, but it is difficult to control physically because it can re-establish from seeds and rhizomes.

2. Biological Management Options

At this time, there are no available biological controls for water lily.

Herbicide Control Options

Always read the product label for directions and precautions, as the label is the law. Click on the name of the product to see the label. Read the label for specific water use restrictions.

The active ingredients that have been successful in treating water lily include:

These rating are based upon the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers aquatic herbicide trials.

1) 2,4-D

2,4-D compounds are systemic herbicides. Systemic herbicides are absorbed and move within the plant to the site of action. Systemic herbicides tend to act more slowly than contact herbicides.

Common trade or product names include but are not limited to:

2) Endothall

Dipotassium salts of endothall come in both liquid and granular form. It can be mixed with copper compounds for additional effectiveness. Contact herbicides act quickly and kill all plant cells that they come into contact with.

Common trade and product names include but are not limited to:

Alkyl amine salts of endothall come in both liquid and granular form. It is a contact herbicide.

Common trade and product names include but are not limited to:

Hydrothol can be toxic to fish.

3) Triclopyr

Liquid triclopyr formulation is a selective broadleaf, systemic herbicide. Systemic herbicides are absorbed and move within the plant to the site of action. Systemic herbicides tend to act more slowly than contact herbicides. An aquatically registered surfactant (see the label) will improve the effectiveness of triclopyr.

Common trade or product names include but are not limited to:

4) Glyphosate

Liquid glyphosate formulations have been effective on water lily. It is a broad spectrum, systemic herbicide. Systemic herbicides are absorbed and move within the plant to the site of action. Systemic herbicides tend to act more slowly than contact herbicides. An aquatically registered surfactant (see the label) will have to be added to the glyphosate solution for good results.

Common trade or product names include but are not limited to:

  • Rodeo
  • Aquamaster
  • Eraser AQ
  • Touchdown Pro
  • AquaNeat
  • Refuge

5) Imazamox

Imazamox is a broad spectrum, systemic herbicide. Systemic herbicides are absorbed and move within the plant to the site of action. Systemic herbicides tend to act more slowly than contact herbicides. An aquatically registered surfactant (see the label) is needed for application.

Common trade or product names include but are not limited to:

  • Clearcast

6) Fluridone

Fluridone is a broad spectrum, systemic herbicide. Systemic herbicides are absorbed and move within the plant to the site of action. Systemic herbicides tend to act more slowly than contact herbicides.

Common trade and product names include but are not limited to:

  • Sonar
  • Avast

7) Penoxsulam

Penoxsulam is a broad spectrum, systemic herbicide. Systemic herbicides are absorbed and move within the plant to the site of action. Systemic herbicides tend to act more slowly than contact herbicides. It may be sprayed directly onto emergent plants or applied directly into the water. Penoxsulam should not be applied in areas where it will be diluted rapidly. This herbicide will need a registered surfactant (see the label) for leaf and exposed sediment applications.

Common trade and product names include but are not limited to:

  • Galleon


One danger with any chemical control method is the chance of an oxygen depletion after the treatment caused by the decomposition of the dead plant material. Oxygen depletion can kill fish in the pond. If the pond is heavily infested with weeds, it may be possible (depending on the herbicide chosen) to treat the pond in sections and let each section decompose for about two weeks before treating another section. Aeration, particularly at night, for several days after treatment may help control the oxygen depletion.

One common problem in using aquatic herbicides is determining area and/or volume of the pond or area to be treated. To assist you with these determinations see SRAC #103 Calculating Area and Volume of Ponds and Tanks.

Many aquatically registered herbicides have water use restrictions (See General Water Use Restrictions).

To see the labels for these products click on the name. Always read and follow all label directions. Check label for specific water use restrictions.

Cultivation Options

Water lily can be propagated by transplanting rhizomes into shallow, clear water during the winter.


If you need assistance, contact the Ag & Natural Resources agent in your county or hire a professional.

How to Grow Water Lilies

The water lily (Nymphaea) has been casting its spell on humans for thousands of years, enchanting even the earliest civilizations. This mysterious beauty rises from the deep, leaves floating serenely on the surface, exquisite blossoms appearing as if by magic. Once the province of grand palaces and public gardens, the water lily is finding its way to the home garden.

While water lilies appear delicate, don’t let their exotic aura fool you. These flowers are as tough as they are beautiful. Water lilies grow well in any USDA hardiness zone.

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All About Water Lilies

Water lilies can be grown in a tub on the patio or in ponds of any size. They grow from tubers planted in pots beneath the water and send up stems with rounded leaves and star-shaped blossoms that float on the surface. There are many different types of water lilies to choose from.

Hardy lilies are dependable and easy to plant—a good choice for the beginner. Daytime bloomers, they blossom in the morning and close after sunset, lasting three or four days before sinking beneath the surface. The flowers appear from spring to fall, blooming in all colors except blues and purples. Hardy water lilies go dormant in winter and may be left in the water or stored. Tropical water lilies, which bloom in more exotic colors, take a little more care but are well worth the effort. Their flowers are larger and more prolific. Night-blooming varieties have vibrant, almost electric colors. Tropical water lilies require a water temperature above 70 degrees F, and tubers must be removed from the pond in winter.

How to Plant Hardy Water Lilies

Whether you are planting in a container or in a pond, the water lily planting technique is the same. If you’re new to water lilies or short on space, try growing them in a container—it will feel more manageable than an entire pond of water lilies. Any type of water lily can be grown in a pot because they will only grow to be the size of the container they are in.

Editor’s Tip: Keep aquatic plants contained in ponds and pots. In the wild, some can be invasive and compete with native plants.

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Step 1: Select a Container

Use a container that is wide and shallow. A good size is 12 x 18 inches wide by 6 x 10 inches deep. The tuber, which is similar to the rhizome of an iris, grows horizontally. Containers may or may not have holes. If there are drainage holes, line the pot with burlap to keep the soil in the container. Soil that leaches out can cloud the water in your pond.

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Step 2: Fill Container With Soil

Use a heavy soil intended for use in the garden, not a fluffy potting soil that will float out of the container. Avoid soil mixes with perlite, vermiculite, or peat for the same reason. Enrich the soil with aquatic fertilizer pellets made especially for the task. Push them into the soil before you plant.

Buy it: CrystalClear Aquatic Plant Food, $6, Amazon

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Step 3: Clean Up Plants

Remove old leaves and thick, fleshy old roots—then, more of the plant’s energy can go toward growing new roots, leaves, stems, and blooms. Leave only emerging leaves and buds and the newer, hairlike roots.

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Step 4: Plant Tubers

Plant the tuber against the side of the pot, with the growing tip pointing upward—about 45 degrees—and toward the center of the pot.

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Step 5: Add Gravel

Cover the soil with a layer of rock or pea gravel to keep the soil in the pot.

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Step 6: Lower Plant into Water

The planted pot should be lowered into the pond at an angle to allow air to escape. Set the base of the pot 12 x 18 inches deep. The leaves will float to the surface. If the pond is deeper than 18 inches and doesn’t have built-in planting ledges, support the pot.

How to Winterize Hardy Water Lilies

Begin getting your hardy water lilies ready for winter by removing all dead and dying foliage. If the pond freezes solid in your climate or is drained for the winter, remove the lily, pot and all. Store the entire pot by keeping it cool and moist in a plastic bag. If you can’t store the whole pot, remove and clean the growing tuber and store it in peat moss at 40 to 50 degrees F.

If the pond doesn’t freeze solid, don’t remove the pot. Simply lower it to the deepest part of the pond, where water will not freeze. In spring, bring the pot back to the proper growing level in the pond. If you’ve dug up and stored the tuber, repot as if it were a new plant.

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Tips for Clear Pond Water

  • Don’t overfertilize plants; you’ll feed the algae that turn pond water green.
  • Don’t overfeed the fish or have too many fish for the size of the pond.
  • Remove decaying vegetation.
  • Make sure 60 percent of the pond is shaded by lily pads or other plants.
  • Keep water well-oxygenated with aerators, fountains, or waterfalls.
  • Don’t kill algae with chemical treatments; that will hurt plants, fish, and beneficial bacteria that live in the pond.

Where to Get Water Lilies

  • Local water-garden-society sales
  • Mail-order catalogs
  • Other gardeners; lilies are easy to divide and propagate for trading

Visit a Water Lily Garden

Visit these spots between June and September to see water lilies bloom; most flowers peak midmorning.

  • Denver Botanic Gardens: More than 500 hardy and tropical water lilies put on a show in the Four Towers and Monet pools. botanicgardens.org
  • Longwood Gardens: The many pools in this Pennsylvania garden feature water lilies from around the world, including Victorias. longwoodgardens.org
  • Missouri Botanical Garden: This garden, which has been displaying these flowers for more than 100 years, launched the country’s hybridizing efforts. missouribotanicalgarden.org
  • Naples Botanical Garden: Then there are the famous giants—the Victoria types—with pads reaching as much as 10 feet across. naplesgarden.com

Growing Water Lilies in Deep Ponds

Growing Water Lilies in Deep Ponds

One of the most frequent inquiries I receive is “What Water Lilies are suitable for deep water.”? The deepest water in larger ponds and lakes could be anywhere between 4 to 15 feet in depth or even deeper, but Water Lilies will not grow in waters of more than 5 ft deep and there are only a few Water Lily cultivars that will grow happily in water that is 5 ft in depth. There are however, quite a lot of cultivars that will also grow happily in 3 to 4 ft of water if allowed time to establish.

There are two essential things that Water Lilies require in order to grow fast and colonize quickly, and these are warm water and light. All large growing Water Lily cultivars will grow twice or three times as fast when planted into shallow waters that are 12-18 inches deep. If a large growing Water Lily cultivar is planted into 3 to 5 ft of water, there will be less light and the water will be cooler and therefore, a large colony of Water Lily tubers/rhizomes will take a long time to establish. So, when you see a large patch of established Water Lilies growing in a village pond, they have probably been growing there for a long time or, they are growing in a purpose or natural raised/shallow area of clay/silt which is ideal.

Water Lilies always grow better when planted straight into natural clay and silt rather than in aquatic baskets as the rhizomes/tubers are not restricted. So, even in man-made concrete, lined or fiberglass ponds I would always recommend adding 6-8 inches of pond substrate into the bottom of the pond if possible ready for natural planting.

Aquatic Baskets and Water Depth Requirements

Adding a natural level of sediment/substrate to the bottom of a man made pond can be a costly procedure so, most of the time large Water Lily cultivars are planted into large 40 cm square aquatic baskets. To achieve impact and a more established look in the first season, you can plant multiple rhizomes (3 or 5) into one basket and this is always recommended if the basket is going to be positioned in deeper water (3-5 ft) but, if the basket is to be positioned in shallow water 12 to 18 inches, then you might want to plant just one or two rhizomes as they will grow three times as quickly, for the reasons as explained in the paragraph above.

One good thing about large aquatic baskets is they are spacious and 12 inches deep which means, that if your pond is 4 ft deep and the baskets are going to be positioned at the bottom of the pond, you will be able to choose Water Lily cultivars with a water depth requirement of 3 ft as the water depth calculation will be the distance from the top of the aquatic basket to the water surface.

I have listed three large growing Water Lily cultivars below with links to photos, but there are plenty more listed on my website www.lilieswatergardens.co.uk that will grow in water that is 3-4 ft deep. The water depth requirements can be seen below the Water Lily cultivar images throughout the website.

Nymphaea Texas Dawn

Nymphaea Postlinberg

Nymphaea Myra

To see our full range of water garden plants including Ferns, Moisture loving perennials, Rockery plants, Marginal plants, Deep water marginal plants, Water lilies, free floating pond plants and oxygenating plants, all available to buy online or from our retail nursery in Surrey, please visit our online store www.lilieswatergardens.co.uk

Lily Pad Ripper | Lily Pad Root Puller

Product Description

Lily Pad Root Ripper, Cutter, Killer & Remover

The only sure way to kill lily pads is to break their roots enough to drown them. When the Lily Pad Ripper is pulled along the bottom of your lake it digs deep into the bottom and literally rips open and tears through the rhizome root system.
The Lily Pad Ripper can be pulled by boat or from land using an ATV or Tractor. is attached to your boat and is pulled along the bottom, in turn breaking and pulling up the roots of lily pads. Larger, heavier boats tend to work best for this. After breaking the root system it will flood the interior of the rhizome in the portion that remains in the water killing any water lily / pad that is attached. Some of the rhizomes will float to the surface and some will remain on the bottom.

How To Remove and kill lily pads in a lake or a pond with this tool?
The Weeders Digest offers many tools to “manage” your lily pads. Our Lily Pad Ripper is a one-of-a-kind tool designed to REMOVE lily pads and rhizomes once and for all!
Simply connect the Lily Pad Ripper to boat by using your own rope, tied to a 1.5″ by 6′ stabilizer pipe (that you supply.)
(The reason that we recommend that you supply these 2 items is so that you can reduce shipping costs. IF you are a local buyer and intend to stop by The Weeders Digest, you can certainly purchase a complete set up for an additional $55.)
Once you are all rigged up and ready to go lower the Lily Pad Ripper down to the bottom of the lake or pond and inch forward slowly until the rope becomes tight. Once the rope is tight, it is important to apply steady forward momentum until the Ripper rips through the root and continue on in a straight line popping each root as you move forward.
Next, return to the beginning spot and move over 7′ to begin the next ripping path and complete the same ripping motion as in the previous step.
Once you have completed 2 parallel rips, you will see the pads in their entirety, i.e.; pads stems and roots, pop to the surface for easy removal with one of rakes like our Long Reach Rake. Remember, thorough clean up is the responsible way to manage your waterfront.

Also check out our Aquatic Vegetation Groomer for dealing with lily pads and more.
Feel free to call us anytime with questions or to place your order by phone! 763-551-1441

How to Get Rid of Lily Pads in Ponds & Lakes 2020 (Most Effective Tools)

3) Cutting Lilies

Typically conducted on smaller water bodies, such as in ponds, you can cut water lilies just below the water line using shears or an aquatic weed whacker. However, this is very temporary and will need to be repeated several times during the year, as it won’t kill off the rhizomes and the lilies will continue to grow. You’ll also have to remove any of the dead vegetation from the water to prevent oxygen depletion and algae growth. The perk here is that there is little to no impact to your fish or water quality, and it’s much easier work in comparison to manual pulling and raking, especially if using a specialized aquatic weed cutter.

4) Creating Shade

A fairly simple control method, shading involves placing a large piece of black plastic sheeting over the area of lily pads. This will prevent sunlight from getting through, and over time the plants will die. However, rhizomes are fairly hardy and can exist in dormancy for a time, meaning there is potential for the lilies to recover after using this method. This may be more successful when used in conjunction with other control methods. You also shouldn’t use this technique if lily pads are present over a substantial part of the water body, as too much shade from the cover can negatively impact fish and any desirable vegetation that is present. If you’re trying to control lily pads in a garden pond, installing a shade sail can help to greatly reduce their growth rate while you actively work to remove them with other methods.

5) Plastic or Gravel Lining

Installing a durable liner or thick (several inch) layer of gravel or similar substrate on the bottom of your lake or pond will help effectively control most types of water weeds, including lily pads. Keep in mind that some species of fish and waterfowl will resultantly not be able to use this area for spawning or nesting, so survey the area and don’t line any sections where you notice spawning or nesting occurring.

6) Mechanical Control (Mowers/Cutters)

If your pond or lake has a well-established lily pad population, you may need to resort to heavier duty mechanical removal methods. Bulldozers, aquatic cutters, and aquatic mowers are all effective approaches that provide quick and long-term results, but in small water bodies like ponds fish will need to be removed to prevent adversely impacting them. In a larger lake, the fish will ideally be able to temporarily seek shelter elsewhere in the water

7) Pond Fish!

Some fish species love munching on water lilies, and while this biological control method won’t eliminate a lily pad population, it will help to keep it in check. As such, using fish is best suited for simply controlling native lily pads. Native lilies do provide beneficial food and habitat for a variety of wildlife species and removing them altogether could damage your fish population, while invasives should be eradicated completely.

Koi, goldfish, and grass carp are all known to eat the leaves and occasionally the roots of water lilies. Of these, grass carp are considered the most effective at controlling lily pad populations. However, it should be noted that while grass carp are cheap, they hail from China and are considered non-native in North America and Europe. Because of this, you may need to obtain a permit in order to have them in your pond or lake.

Some areas, like Florida, require that you use sterile (known as triploid) grass carp to prevent them from breeding and overtaking other fish species, and 32 out of the 50 states have made them entirely illegal to possess. They also grow in accordance to the water body size, meaning that in large water bodies with plenty of food, they have been known to reach several feet and 50-plus pounds in size, but average closer to 15 pounds in ponds. They are also likely to also nibble on other plants, such as water hyacinth, which may or may not be advantageous depending on your personal goals. Start off with one or two juvenile, less than 1-foot-long grass carp per approximately 65,000 gallons.

Controlling Lily Pads with Chemicals – A Good Option?

We really can’t state this enough – anything that is designed to kill or harm one thing is likely to kill or harm other things as well. With this in mind, chemicals should always be used as a last resort, and in strict accordance with labels and regulations. Do some research or contact your local environmental agency to learn which control methods are allowed where you live, and the regulations associated with them.

1) Glyphosate

As mentioned in previous articles, glyphosate herbicides specifically approved for water works well with aquatic vegetation removal. As a systemic chemical, glyphosate works its way throughout the entire plant, roots and all. Approved by the EPA, glyphosates are the general go-to for water use, as it does not persist in the environment and is considered generally safe for fish and wildlife as long as label instructions and proper dosages are followed. Aquapro, Refuge, Aquamaster, and Rodeo are popular liquid glyphosate brands that are approved for water use.

2) Imazapyr (Licensed Use Only)

Also used to control phragmites, imazapyr is incredibly potent, non-selective (it’ll kill just about anything that it comes in contact with), and as such is sure to eliminate lily pads. However, as mentioned in our previous phragmites control article, imazapyr persists in soil and water, is quite toxic, and will likely kill off native plants and potentially harm fish and wildlife as well. This chemical requires a license to use (you could either obtain this yourself or hire a professional) and should be applied with great care in accordance with the label. The only variety of imazapyr that can be used in aquatic systems is Habitat, and works best with a surfactant that will reduce surface tension so that imazapyr will more readily disperse into the water rather than concentrating in one area.

3) Herbicide Tablets

Herbicide (otherwise known as aquacide) tablets are quite concentrated, selective (meaning that they generally only kill what you want them to), and are designed more so to target and kill roots – this is perfect for aquatic plants that reproduce using rhizomes, like lily pads. Rather than diluting throughout the water body, tablets will sink into the root bed, release the herbicide slowly over a period of days as the tablet dissolves, and are less likely to damage other plants than liquid herbicides. As the water lily grows, the roots directly absorb the herbicide sitting atop them and distribute it throughout the plant. In most cases, the entire plant dies after about a week. You will have to manually remove the dead vegetation, as otherwise it will sit at the bottom of your lake or pond and use up vital oxygen as decomposition takes place. In terms of chemicals, these little marble-sized tablets may be the most efficient and least harmful approach to managing your lily pad population.

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