Victoria - Amazon Water Lily, Queen Victoria's Water Lily, Royal Water Lily, Santa Cruz Water Lily
DESCRIPTION: This group of tender, aquatic annuals is originally from tropical America. They are amazing, floating plants with some varieties producing leaves that grow up to 8 feet across. They are commonly called Queen Victoria's Water Lily, Royal Water Lily, Amazon Water Lily and Santa Cruz Water Lily. V. amazonica (Amazon Water Lily) has yellowish-green, round leaves with reddish-purple undersides that start out flat, but in time form a rim, 3 to 6 inches high. The underside of the leaves and the outside of the rim are armored with sharp spines. The leaves of this variety grow from 4 to 6 feet across and spread 15 to 20 feet. The double flowers of this plant bloom at night and measure 9 to 12 inches across. They open white eventually turning reddish-pink. This variety needs a water temperature of 85º to 90º F. V. cruziana (Santa Cruz Water Lily) produces leaves with violet-purple undersides. The rims are green veined with red and they grow 5 to 8 inches high. The leaves grow 4 to 51/2 feet across and the plant spreads 15 to 18 feet. The double flowers open white and turn pink; they open two nights in a row. This variety needs a water temperature of 65º to 70º F. V. Longwood Hybrid is a cross between the two varieties previously described. The yellowish-green leaves grow 4 to 8 feet across and spread 12 to 40 feet. The outsides of the rims are reddish colored. The underside of the leaves, the rim's exterior, and the outside of the flower sepals are clothed with spines. Its night-blooming flowers are larger than the other two varieties, growing 10 to 16 inches across. The flowers of this hybrid open earlier in the evening and are produced more abundantly.
POTTING: Victorias float on the water's surface. They can be planted in as large a container as possible filled with one part well-decayed manure and three parts topsoil along with 8 to 10 pounds of 10-10-10 granulated fertilizer. A container that holds about 27 cubic feet of soil is recommended for this soil mixture.
PROPAGATION: Since Victorias are annuals, they are increased by seeds. V. Longwood Hybrid is the product made from crossing V. amazonica pollen with the stigma or flower of V. cruziana. If this is reversed it won't form productive seed, nor will crossing the Longwood Hybrid with either parent; however, crossing the Longwood Hybrid with itself will produce a second generation true to seed. Victorias bloom for only two nights. The blossoms are white the first night and pinkish-red the second night. Collect pollen from a second-night flower by cutting the anthers from the flower and placing in a plastic bag. Pollen can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 36 hours. (Until it can be placed in the refrigerator, keep cool with ice.) When a first-night flower opens, cut out the anthers and the central parts of the flower to fully expose the stigma. Make sure that no pollen bearing anthers remain in the flower. Dust the stigma with the collected pollen from the second-night flower. Use a soft brush to spread the pollen all around the stigma. (If you have a second-night flower open at the same time as a first-night flower, you can pollinate that night instead of having to refrigerate the pollen.) When you have finished fertilizing the first-night flower, fold the rest of the petals around the stigma and fasten with a rubber band. Tie a gauze or cheesecloth "bag" around the flower to prevent insects from pollinating the flower. If it's going to rain, temporarily cover with a plastic bag to prevent the pollen from washing away, but remember to remove it to avoid ruining your flower. The withering bloom will lower beneath the water after the second night to ripen the seeds. In two or three weeks, the seedpod will begin to swell. Keep it in the muslin bag to guarantee the capture of the seeds when the mature pod bursts about six weeks after pollination. The gathered seeds should be stored in jars of distilled water to allow the seed coating to slowly dissolve. Change the water as needed. Once the seed covering has dissolved, store the seed in distilled water at a 60º F. temperature. They are stored this way until spring, when they can be planted. To start the seeds, disinfect them by dipping in a 10er Lily, Royal Water Lily, Santa Cruz Water Lily solution of bleach for three minutes. Plant the seeds an inch deep in shallow pots. The first leaf in like a thread, the next two are arrow-shaped, and the next ones are boat-shaped. These are the first floating leaves. Once these leaves have developed, the seedlings are transferred to 3-inch pots filled with three parts garden loam and one part sand. Transplant them to larger pots as they grow. Each time they are moved, add well-decayed cow manure and follow a feeding program. When the water outdoors maintains a 72º to 75º F. temperature, the plants can be moved.
VARIETIES: V. amazonica; V. cruziana; V. Longwood Hybrid.
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