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Tropical Lilies Survive One of the Coldest Winters in History!

Tropical Lilies Survive One of the Coldest Winters in History!

[See Update March 31 Below]

Matt Garver in Indiana e-mailed me in January that he was going to be overwintering his tropical lilies outside in a half whiskey barrel like container with a built in heater to keep from freezing. The device is known as a thermoplanter.

A couple weeks ago he checked to see how the plants were and we have the photos of what seems to be stable live lilies. I would dub these “Chilly Lillies”.

Kudos goes to Mark Prescott the developer of the thermoplanter. Just a 70 watt heating element has kept plants alive up and down the east coast, to St. Louis, and now north to Northern Indiana. Visit Black River Nursery LLC to see all thermoplanters Mark has developed.

What may help on your first attempt at overwintering a tropical lily is choosing cold tolerant plants. viviparous waterlilies are more cold tolerant as are most star varieties of tropical waterlilies.

Matt notes he has overwintered the purple Panama Pacific Waterlily.

Rich Sacher wrote a nice review of the thermoplanter about two years after its 2006 introduction at pondapalooza for Water Gardeners International. Thermo Planters for Waterlilies and many other plants can be found and read about at Black Creek Nursery and are available from a number of vendors for just $50-$75.

Matt used the thermoplanter unit inside a half whiskey barrel for added protection from the elements on top of gravel instead of an in-ground pond. The heating element sits inside the soil next to the tuber so even if the water above the pot is cool the tuber stays warm enough not to damage. Very nice report and thanks to a Water Garden Blog reader. Anyone is encouraged to share stories and we will check back with Matt as the growth continues to see how early the plant blooms.

[UPDATE MARCH 31 2010] Matt sent in an updated zoomed photo of the Panama Pacfic.]

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  1. Matt Garver says:

    This outdoor overwintered Panama Pacific began blooming in April, 2 months earlier than normal for Northern Indiana. Here is the link to the associated photo. Note that other buds came up earlier, but were frost-nipped and did not open.

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