Water lilies are true aquatic plants. The roots and stems of the plant remain submerged, while the leaves float on the surface and the flowers emerge above the water.

Seedling Stage

The life cycle of the water lily begins with a seed which sprouts to form a seedling. The roots of the seedling will borrow into the soil and the plant will grow leaves that will reach toward the surface of the water.


As the plant matures, it will produce flowers, which are the reproductive part of the plant. Within the flowers are both male and female sex organs.

Sex organs

The anther is the male sex organ and produces sperm in the form of pollen. The female portion of the plant is made up of the stigma, pistil and ovary.

Sexual Reproduction

When a pollinator, such as an insect, enters the flower, it will inadvertently pick up pollen grains and transfer them to the stigma. The pollen will then travel through the stigma and down through the pistil to fertilize the ovary.

Seed development and disbursal

Once fertilized the ovary will form seeds, the flower will drop its petals and a seed pod will form. The seeds will eventually be disbursed into the water to start the life cycle over again.

Asexual reproduction

Water lilies also reproduce vegetatively, forming root-like stems called rhizomes beneath the soil. These allow the plant to reproduce asexually.