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There are other genres of the Nymphaeaceae that could be considered first cousins of sorts to the Hardies and Tropical water lilies. These plants bear the family name and have the same flowery resemblance. They do not come from a common ancestor however, but are given them name due to the development being along the same lines with similar structural habits. These “cousins” can add lovely contrast, while maintaining the theme of your water garden.

One stunning genus is the Victoria. These are often planted in estate and public parks for their sheer beauty! The sight of these spectacular plants is definitely worth an excursion if you live near a water garden or park with them!

The foliage of the Victoria can stretch to six feet or more across, and the edges will turn up creating a straight-sided rim. The leaves are a rich green color, and seem to have a quilted or geometric pattern on the top side, while the bottom side is a purplish-green, covered in thick veins filled with a gas formed from the leaf cells. This trapped gas is what allows the plant to float!

The flower is a platter shape that can measure up to 10-12 inches in diameter, and a wonderful fragrance similar to crushed pineapple. This is a night blooming lily, and will open for three evenings in a row. It begins as a creamy white color, and moves to a light pink, then to a deep pink, and finally to a purplish-red. The seed pod is a large grapefruit shape covered in spines, which contains the black shiny seed cluster.

 The Victoria is a perennial, but must be treated as an annual, as well as given all the same requirements needed for other aquatics, like space, heat, time, patience, and care. The seeds should be gathered in the fall, and stored in bottles of water to keep them from drying out. You can puncture the hard shells by filing or cutting, and then plant them in January or February. Plant the seeds in a shallow pan, in unfertilized soil with about 3-4 inches of water. They need to be kept at 80-85 degrees and should be exposed to full sunlight.

The Lotus
The Lotus is another species that is a worthy relative of the water lily. This stunning plant is one of the oldest aquatic flowering plants in the world, and has even been revered in some cultures as a result of its beauty. The Lotus was found in ancient drawings, and the Egyptians referred to it as “the parent of ornamentation”. The Lotus was a steadfast accessory in early Assyrian and Persian art.

The Lotus is native to India, and was sacred to the ancient Hindu culture. The stunning blooms represented the country while the leaves represented the surrounding countries and cultures. For the Buddhists, the Lotus, was an exalted representation of man, with head held high, pure and undefiled by the sun, with his feet rooted in the world of experience.

The Lotus has symbolized many different things in other times and to different cultures.  The roots being buried in the mud has symbolized a king with a common touch, rising from the filth and squalor, as well as symbolizing hope from chaos. The flow also represented female fertililty in early cultures.

There are different species of Lotus, and they can grow from two feet to as large as nine feet. The leaves are normally a bluish-green color, a round shape, and can grow to be two and a half feet across with frilled edges. The Lotus is shaped like a shallow bowl with no notch between the stem and leaf. The stem supports the leaf from a center point in a flat position. The leaves can hold rain for hours after a shower. The leaf and stem seem to appear more like a parasol, often seen by visitors who visit lotus gardens!

Many Lotus species have leaves that are covered in wax, which is what allows the dew to stick, and as it catches the light it sparkles and shines. Dew and rain turn these stunning flowers into a magical and spectacular site!