Nymphaea nouchali caerulea, also named Nymphaea caerulea,
Nymphaea capensis, Blue water lily, Lady Lily of the Nile,
Egyptian Lotus, is a perennial aquatic plant from South
Africa. One plant can spread over an area of about 1
meter. This lovely aquatic plant with sky-blue flowers is
South Africa's most commonly grown indigenous water lily.
The Blue water lily was sacred to the ancient Egyptians.
The God of the blue water lily was Nefertem, Lord of
The plant has its roots firmly in the mud and sends out
long stems to which their leaves are attached. The big
circular leaves are floating at the surface and the
flowers above it. The leaves are large and flat, rounded
or oval in shape with notched margins, up to 40 cm in
diameter, and cleft almost to the centre where the
petiole is attached. They are relatively short lived and
are replaced regularly throughout the growing season.
They start out as a soft shiny green. As they age, they
develop light brown or purple splashes which eventually
cover the leaf, leaving only the veins green. The margins
are slightly rolled inwards toward the uppermost side
which helps keep the blades afloat. The veins act like a
structural support for the leaves. The upper leaf surface
is coated with a smooth waxy cuticle, which gives it the
appearance of being leathery and shiny.
The variety name caerulea refers to the sky blue colour
of the flowers. The large, elegant blue flowers are held
well above the water at the tip of a sturdy green stalk
and appear almost constantly from Spring until the end of
Summer, the plant blooms repeatedly. They are bisexual,
with 4 sepals, green on the outside and white to blue on
the inside, and many blue petals. The flowers open in
early to mid-morning and close completely in late
afternoon and stay closed all night. A fully open flower
measures 15-20 cm across and each flower lasts for about
four days. The flowers are sweetly fragrant.
A few days after the Water Lily flower is pollinated, the
flower stem tightens in a spiralling spring to bring the
flower head underwater. The fruit develops underwater
into a spongy berry with many seeds that are enclosed in
arils. When ripe, many seeds are released from each fruit.
Young seeds float as they contain air pockets. They are
then dispersed by water currents or by water birds that
eat them. As they become waterlogged, they sink into the
mud to germinate. The plant also spreads by sprouting
from the creeping rhizomes.
Hardiness zones 10-11, (1°C/35°F, 4°C/40°F) in Winter.
Not very Winter hardy. Loves full sun but can grow in
partial shade. It need very high moisture. The Lotus
grows best in rich soil with 1/2 inch of rinsed gravel on
top of the soil. The pot is completely submerge in calm