Eazy Gardening

Unveiling the Charm of Colchicum ‘Waterlily’: A Guide to Growing and Using This Toxic yet Beautiful Plant

Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ (also known as Meadow Saffron) is a beautiful and unique plant that is perfect for any garden. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about this plant, including its common names, description, characteristics, how to cultivate and care for it, and potential issues to keep in mind.

Overview of the Plant

Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is a perennial plant that belongs to the Colchicaceae family. It is a hybrid plant that was created by crossing Colchicum speciosum and Colchicum autumnale.

This plant is sometimes referred to as Meadow Saffron, but it is also known by other common names such as Autumn Crocus, Naked Lady, and Seven Sisters.

Description of the Plant

Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is a unique plant because it blooms in the autumn. It has large, cup-shaped flowers that range in color from blush pink to deep magenta.

The flowers are double-layered, with the inner petals being shorter and wider than the outer petals, giving the plant a waterlily-like appearance. The plant’s leaves grow in a rosette pattern and are thin and lance-shaped.


Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is an excellent plant for attracting wildlife to your garden. The vibrant flowers are irresistible to pollinators like bees and butterflies, making it a great addition to any pollinator garden.

The plant is also deer-resistant, which is a bonus for gardeners in areas that have issues with deer.

Plant Cultivation and Care

Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is easy to cultivate and care for, making it a great plant for beginner gardeners. Here are a few things to keep in mind when growing this plant:

Preferred Growing Conditions

Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ grows best in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. It prefers to be planted in partial shade to full sun, but it is important to note that too much sun can cause the plant to wilt.

Watering should be done regularly, but the soil should never be allowed to become waterlogged.

Planting and Maintenance Tips

When planting Colchicum ‘Waterlily’, it is important to plant it at a depth of 4-6 inches. This ensures that the plant’s large bulbs are covered and that it has enough room to grow and bloom.

When the plant finishes blooming in the autumn, it is recommended to cut back the foliage to ground level. This helps to prevent any issues with disease and pests.

Potential Pest and Disease Issues

Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is generally pest and disease-free, but it is important to keep an eye out for any issues that may arise. The plant can be susceptible to leaf spot and bulb rot, which can be prevented by ensuring that the soil is well-draining and that the plant is not over-watered.

Final Thoughts

Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is a beautiful, low-maintenance plant that is perfect for gardeners of all skill levels. Its unique autumn blooming habit, vibrant flowers, and attractiveness to pollinators make it a great addition to any garden.

With the right growing conditions and a little bit of care, you can enjoy this stunning plant year after year.

Plant Propagation Methods

Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ can be propagated both through sexual and asexual reproduction. Sexual reproduction involves pollination and the production of seeds while asexual reproduction involves vegetative propagation using bulbs.

Sexual Reproduction

Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ produces seeds in the autumn, after the flowers have bloomed and faded. The plant’s fruit contains several seeds that can be collected and planted in the ground the following spring.

When planting the seeds, it is important to allow for proper spacing to ensure that each seed has enough room to grow.

Asexual Reproduction

Asexual reproduction can be done through the division of bulbs. The best time to divide and replant bulbs is in the fall, after the plant has finished blooming.

It is important to wait until the leaves have fully died back before digging up and dividing the bulbs. Once the bulbs have been separated, they can be replanted in the ground at a depth of 4-6 inches.

Plant Adaptations to Different Environments

Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is a plant that has adapted to several different environments throughout its history. This has enabled the plant to thrive in a variety of conditions and to survive in habitats that are inhospitable to other plants.

Adaptations to Dry Conditions

One of the key adaptations of Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is its ability to survive in dry conditions. The plant has developed a large bulb that stores water and nutrients, allowing it to survive periods of drought.

The plant’s leaves are also thin and lance-shaped, minimizing water loss through transpiration.

Adaptations to Cold


Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is able to survive in cold temperatures because it has a high tolerance for freezing. The plant’s bulbs are able to withstand freezing temperatures without being damaged, allowing them to survive the winter.

Additionally, the plant is able to have its leaves, stems, and flowers emerge in the spring before the full onset of warmer temperatures, allowing it to take advantage of the milder spring weather.

Adaptations to Poor Soil Quality

Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is able to grow in poor soil conditions because it has developed a specialized root system. The plant’s roots are able to grow deep into the ground, allowing it to access nutrients and water that other plants cannot reach.

Additionally, the plant’s large bulbs contain a store of nutrients that can sustain it during times of poor soil quality.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is a fascinating and adaptable plant that has evolved to thrive in a variety of habitats. Through sexual and asexual reproduction, it is able to propagate itself and to adapt to changing environmental conditions.

Its adaptations to dry conditions, cold temperatures, and poor soil quality have allowed it to become a hardy and resilient plant that is well-suited for gardens and landscapes. Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ can be used in both indoor and outdoor settings to add a pop of color and interest to any space.

In this addition, well explore how to best use this versatile plant in a variety of settings.

Usage of the Plant in Indoor Settings

Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ can be grown indoors, but it can be challenging to replicate the ideal growing conditions that the plant requires to thrive. Here are a few things to keep in mind when growing this plant indoors.


Place the plant in a location with bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight can cause the plant to wilt and die, so it is important to ensure that it is protected from harsh sunlight.


Water the plant regularly, taking care not to over-water. The soil should be moist, but not soaked.

It is essential to maintain good drainage to prevent root rot.


Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ prefers cooler temperatures which can be challenging to maintain in indoor growing conditions. It is best to keep the plant in a room with a temperature range between 50 to 60F.


Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ prefers high humidity levels, so it is important to keep a humidifier nearby or to place a tray of water near the plant.

Usage of the Plant in Outdoor Settings

Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is an excellent choice for outdoor gardens and landscapes. Here are a few tips for using this plant effectively in outdoor settings.


Plant the bulbs in the ground during early autumn, approximately 4-6 inches deep, and space them about 6 inches apart. The soil should be well-draining with a pH balance of 6-7.

If you live in an area with harsh winters, it is important to mulch the soil to protect the plant’s bulbs from frost. Companion


Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ looks stunning when planted alongside other autumn and winter flowering plants such as Asters, Rudbeckia, Dahlias, and Pansies.


Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ can be grown in containers, but it is essential to choose a pot with adequate drainage. It is best to plant one bulb per container for optimal growth.

Remember to water the plant regularly and to protect the container from harsh sunlight.


Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ can be used as a border plant and is commonly planted alongside other bulbs and perennials. When choosing a location for the plant, it is important to ensure that it is not overcrowded and has enough space to grow.

Final Thoughts

Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is a versatile plant that can be used in a variety of indoor and outdoor settings. Growing the plant indoors requires attention to its preferred conditions, including bright, indirect light, and high humidity.

When using Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ in outdoor settings, it’s important to provide well-draining, mulched soil to protect the bulbs from harsh winters. When planting in the ground or containers, remember to space the bulbs appropriately and protect them from direct sunlight.

With proper care and attention, Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ can bring color and interest to any garden or indoor space. While Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is widely praised for its beauty and versatility, it is important to note that it is toxic to both pets and humans.

Here’s what you need to know about this plant’s potential for toxicity.

Toxicity to Pets

Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is highly toxic to dogs, cats, and other animals. The plant contains a chemical called colchicine, which can cause severe gastrointestinal distress, respiratory failure, and even death in pets.

Symptoms of toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, excessive drooling, and lethargy. If you suspect your pet has ingested any part of this plant, seek immediate veterinary attention.

Toxicity to Horses

Horses are also at high risk of toxicity from Colchicum ‘Waterlily’. The plant contains alkaloids, which can cause respiratory failure, colic, and sudden death in horses.

Symptoms of toxicity in horses include severe colic, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and an elevated heart rate. If you suspect your horse has ingested any part of this plant, seek immediate veterinary attention.

Toxicity to Humans

Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is also toxic to humans if ingested. The plant’s bulbs are the most toxic part of the plant and can be mistaken for onions or garlic.

Symptoms of toxicity in humans include severe gastrointestinal distress, organ failure, and even death. If you suspect you have ingested any part of this plant, seek immediate medical attention.

Final Thoughts

While Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is a beautiful and versatile plant that is perfect for gardens and landscapes, it is important to take precautions to protect yourself, your pets, and your horses from potential toxicity. Always wear gloves when handling this plant and keep it out of reach of pets and children.

If you suspect toxicity, seek medical or veterinary attention immediately to ensure the best possible outcome. In conclusion, Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is a stunning and adaptable plant that can be used in a variety of settings.

While it requires specific growing conditions, such as well-draining soil and partial shade, it is a low-maintenance plant that attracts pollinators and adds a pop of color to gardens and landscapes. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that this plant is toxic to both pets and humans and requires caution when handling.

If you are considering adding Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ to your garden or indoor space, be sure to follow best practices for growing and handling this unique and fascinating plant.


Q: Is Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ a good plant for beginner gardeners?

A: Yes, this plant is easy to cultivate and care for, making it a great plant for beginner gardeners. Q: What is the ideal growing condition for Colchicum ‘Waterlily’?

A: Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ prefers well-draining soil with a pH balance of 6-7 and partial shade to full sun. Q: Is Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ toxic to pets and humans?

A: Yes, this plant is highly toxic to pets and humans if ingested and can cause severe gastrointestinal distress, respiratory failure and even death. Q: Can Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ be grown indoors?

A: Yes, but replicating the ideal growing conditions can be challenging, and it requires bright, indirect light and high humidity. Q: What is the best way to propagate Colchicum ‘Waterlily’?

A: Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ can be propagated through sexual reproduction, using seeds in the autumn, and asexual reproduction through the division of bulbs in the fall after blooming.

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