Victoria amazonica
Common Name: Victoria water lily
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Nymphaeaceae
Native Range: Amazon region
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: White to pink to rose-purple
Sun: Full sun
Water: Wet
Maintenance: High
Suggested Use: Annual, Water Plant, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful

Culture

This tropical water lily is winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-11. In tropical areas, plant roots are best anchored in organically rich loams at the bottom of the water body. Plants will remain perennial as long as water temperatures remain at least 75 degrees F. In the St. Louis climate, this water lily is typically grown in containers, often as an annual. Containers may be brought indoors before first frost for overwintering. It is best grown in 1-3’ of quiet water in full sun. Splashing water, water currents and/or heavy winds must be avoided. In late spring, place containers at the bottom of the outdoor water body (water should have reached a consistent temperature of at least 70 degrees F) in 1-3’ of water. Plants flower best when the water temperature is at least 80 degrees F during the growing season. It should be noted that outdoor pools that are shallow (e.g., 12-18” deep) tend to warm up earlier in spring. Plant seed in containers in late winter and emerse the containers in water that is 85-90 degrees F. If desired, containers may be brought indoors before fall frost for overwintering in a greenhouse. This species may be grown from seed by planting seed in a pot emersed in water of at least 80 degrees F in late winter.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Victoria amazonica, commonly called Amazon water lily, royal water lily, giant water lily or Amazon water-platter, is native to quiet shallow waters in tropical South America, including, as the common name suggests, the backwaters of the Amazon River. It is a rhizomatous, floating-leaf, tender aquatic perennial that is noted for the huge size of its yellow-green leaves (4-6 feet in diameter) and its night-blooming (open at dusk and close by noon), pineapple-scented flowers (9-12 inches wide) that bloom in summer. Leaves are yellowish green above and coppery red beneath, with each leaf having a distinctive, continuous vertical edge (typically to 2-4” high). Leaf undersides and stems have sharp prickles. Flowers bloom at night, but each flower typically lasts only 2-3 days. Flowers open white but turn pinkish to rose-purple on the second to third days as they age. This species was grown at Kew Gardens in England during the reign of Queen Victoria.

Genus name honors Queen Victoria (1819-1901).

Specific epithet means from the region of the Amazon River.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Large floating water lily that fits well into large water gardens, pools or ponds.