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Winterizing the Lily Ponds

What is 'Winterizing the Lily Ponds?'

Have you seen the changes to the Jewel Box ponds?

It may seem a bit early, but it is already time to winterize the lily ponds for next year. Some of the plants have been moved to escape the cold. The Parks Department drains the ponds, so some plants are relocated for their preservation. The plants that remain will be beautiful until frosty weather arrives.

volunteers from the st. Louis water garden society work to winterize the lily ponds in forest park
volunteers from the St. Louis Water Garden Society preparing hardy waterlilies for winter 2022

Hardy Waterlilies on the Move

Some of the waterlilies in the Jewel Box Lily Ponds are cold-hardy. In other words, as long as the water doesn’t freeze completely, the plants go dormant, then revive in the spring. We move the large pots to a naturalistic pond east of the Jewel Box that has water all year.

The lilies are safe to “slumber” there until Spring when they are moved back.

Tropical Plants Receive Greenhouse Refuge

Tropical plants like cannas and thalia are moved into the greenhouses south of the Jewel Box. There they stay until the end of May when the newly refilled Jewel Box ponds will have warmed.

Some Tropicals grow to huge proportions in the warmth of the St. Louis Summers. Volunteers do some serious labor while winterizing the lily ponds. First, they uproot and divide these behemoth plants. Then, the smaller starts can then be placed in the greenhouses.

The tropical waterlilies are not salvaged. These are planted from seed or from small plants every Spring. They stay in the Lily Ponds until the cold stops their vigorous growth.


“Winterizing the Water Garden,” Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension
Produced by Communications and Marketing, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2015