Giant waterlilies at Kew
In the wild the giant waterlily is a short-lived perennial but at Kew it is raised as an annual from seed planted each January. Five pea-sized seeds are sown in a 12.5cm pot of unsterilised loam placed in a nursery tank, about 8cm below the water surface. By March or April, when the plants have 5 or 6 leaves, the best specimens are moved out, one to the planter in the Princess of Wales Conservatory and one to the Waterlily House. As the plants grow so rapidly they require heavy feeding and when flowering begins, usually by the end of June, a mixture of slow-release fertiliser and loam is supplied once a fortnight.
Princess of Wales Conservatory
The Victoria growing in the Princess of Wales Conservatory is Victoria 'Longwood Hybrid'. This hybrid is a cross between Victoria amazonica and the other species of giant waterlily, V.cruziana. In 1995, the leaves reached record-breaking dimensions when they grew to over 2.5m in diameter and were registered in the Guinness Book of Records.
The related species Victoria cruziana is grown in the Waterlily House.