New Waterlily Competition Frequently Asked Questions

Anyone is welcome to submit their waterlily hybrid in the competition, as long as it complies with the rules of entry (link) for that year. You do not have to be a member of the society or a professional grower to participate. To participate submit an entry form. We accept submissions from February through March.

The competition is usually held at a public garden or other appropriate location that is open to the public. Where possible the competition will be on display. Judging is always done electronically to allow experts worldwide to participate.

The growers take photos and measurements for the judges to evaluate. This data is collected during 8 weeks in July and August after the plants have had time to get established.

  • First day flower. Fully open, top view and side view
  • Second-day flower
  • Third-day flower
  • Full plant, with rules
  • Foliage
  • Photo of flower with rules
  • Photo of flower with a color calibration chart
  • Short video
  • Flower frequency: Average weekly bloom count
  • Measurements: flower, pads, and full plant spread
  • Time the flowers open and close
  • Vigor: Number of growing points present at the end of the season

If you have extensive experience with growing waterlilies, either recreationally or professionally, you might qualify to be a judge. Participating hybridizers and members of the New Waterlily Competition Committee are not eligible to serve on the judging panel. If you’re interested in being a judge, please contact the NWC Committee (email link).

We do not reveal the identities of the hybrids or hybridizers to anyone, including the judges, until the announcement of the results.

All entries are identified to the judges only with a code (H1, TD5, etc.)

The judges are provided with:

  • A photo gallery featuring a photo album for each entry. Each album has the same number of photos.
  • Grower’s notes with a summary of the collected data and brief comments by the growers.
  • A short statement by the hybridizer describing why they picked that hybrid to enter the competition (new for 2024).

Entries are scored on a scale of 1 to 10 in 4 categories:

  • Flower – appearance and frequency. Weight: 50%
  • Foliage – appearance. Weight: 15%
  • General appearance – compact vs spread out, flower-to-pad size ratio, vigor, etc. Weight: 15%
  • Uniqueness – does this entry display traits that are rarely seen in waterlily hybrids. Weight: 20%

Judges may also provide a comment for each hybrid that is shared with the hybridizer.

Awards are given for Overall Best New Waterlily and first and second place in each category. 

  • Unique/distinctive flower shape or colors that are not currently in plants available commercially.
  • Unique/distinctive foliage shape or colors that are not currently in plants available commercially.
  • Reliable and consistent bloomers - heavy blooming or improved blooming in similarly colored plants.
  • Durability - ability to withstand hot or cold temperatures without adverse effects.
  • Fragrance - pleasant but noticeable or intense fragrance.
  • Absence of any deformities or irregularities (for both foliage and flower).
  • Strong foliage that remains close to the tuber rather than elongated stems.
  • Plant size including those that are particularly large or small.
  • Any other distinct or unusual favorable characteristics.