Annual Water Lily Division at Botanica

Wichita is in the heart of spring, with bulbs and buds emerging after their wintry slumber. It’s also the time of a very important tradition for the water lilies at Botanica. April 6th marked the Annual Water Lily Division! This is a cherished event carried out in collaboration with the dedicated volunteers from the Kansas Pond Society. This day-long endeavor helps ensure the vitality of our water lilies. It also serves as a testament to our commitment to preserving the beauty of these aquatic treasures.

Division Preparation

Days before the division, meticulous preparation is underway. We update our map, meticulously noting the location of each of the 93 hardy water lily varieties across our ponds. These ponds include the koi pond, Chinese Garden pond, Downing Children’s Garden pond and main pond. To aid in the smooth extraction process, bricks tied to water bottles are strategically placed on each water lily pot. Each of these water bottles contains a note bearing the name of the water lily variety. Although mistaken by some visitors as trash, these markers are invaluable tools that guide our efforts.

The Big Day

As the clock strikes 9:00 AM, teams assemble, ready to embark on the division journey. With two individuals stationed in the pond and two on the boardwalk, a synchronized effort ensues. Pots are carefully lifted from the water, their weight eased by a battery-operated winch operated by the first boardwalk volunteer. Meanwhile, the second boardwalk volunteer controls the map to ensure that each pot returns to its rightful place.

Once transported to the maintenance area, the real work begins. The water lily pots are swiftly relieved of half their mud, making way for the extraction of the water lilies. Water lilies grow from tubers (like potatoes). With precision, plants are cleansed of the mud and soil, revealing their intricate tuberous roots. Each plant is delicately divided into multiple tubers, ensuring the propagation of its unique genetic heritage. A few tubers go back into a pot to be returned to the pond. The rest of the tubers are extra and we sometimes offer them to the public for $5 a tuber.