The River Lily is a favourite with landscape designers in non-native gardens too, due to its striking architectural quality. A clumping plant, it has strappy leaves up to a metre high and 10cm wide, and large white fragrant flowers with thin petals.
As the name implies, River Lilies grow along riverbanks and in swampy areas so not surprisingly, they prefer moist soil conditions. This is the perfect plant for the edge of a large pond or an area that retains run off. It is suitable for coastal areas, and can create a tropical look.
River Lilies look equally good as a single feature or in a mass planting. When left to their own devices, in the right conditions, the golf ball sized seeds will sprout where they fall. If you want to plant them throughout your garden, they are easy to propogate. Just put a seed on top of potting mix in a pot, keep the mix moist, and wait for the seed to sprout. it’s fun for children and they can plant the baby plant in the garden when the roots establish.
The down side to River Lilies is that they are not drought tolerant and are prone to the crinum grub. Some gardeners have abandoned them for these reasons, but mine have never succumbed to the grub. They survive without additional watering too in a shady position. River Lilies will grow in full sun however it is a good idea to spread a generous layer of mulch on the soil away from the stem to help retain moisture.
This article is part of our Gardening with natives series.