“Spectacular!” – Margaret Koogle, Lilypons
Nymphea ‘Sunfire’, a Mike Giles original hybrid hardy waterlily, is a prolific bloomer that can vary from shocking deep red-pink with orange center petals to hot red-pink with yellow center petals—or even almost all yellow or almost white. Soil, fertilizer, sun exposure, local climate and water conditions all contribute to the variations in flower color. As a result, no two plants will look exactly alike.
Sunfire is an excellent bloomer that starts early and blooms non-stop until most other lilies have long ago given up for the year. This medium-sized lily does well in cramped, low fertility conditions, so both novice and experienced water gardeners will enjoy its colorful blooms. The flowers tend to open more fully toward the fall and the colors don’t fade, making Sunfire a great late-season plant.
Notes from Turtle Island Mike’s LilyPad
My fave of all time is Sunfire. If I was trapped on an island and I could have only one lily it would have to be Sunfire. Even if it wasn’t my plant I would still speak as highly of it as I do. I love it so much. I have many plants that I consider to be great plants but I don’t go on and on about them like I do about Sunfire. It really is all that.
Sunfire flowers as much or more than Texas Dawn per crown, and it starts earlier and ends later. It opens in the morning with the odoratas and closes with the latest Mexicana cross plants. The flowers are commonly 8-9 inches in diameter and held above the water for the most part. It keeps it’s strong color all season with a few light pastel flowers thrown in now and then for variety. The light flowers are similar to a dark Pink Grapefruit flower in color. Sometimes the middle rows of petal tips go almost white then on to yellow center petals. All while keeping the hot pink outer petals and middle petal bases.
Sunfire is a stunning medium size plant with beautiful dark reddish green spotted leaves and a controlled root. It does change a lot but it does keep it’s strong color well for a Mexicana cross. Hot pinks generally start out the year much lighter and take a while to get to full color. The pink in Sunfire is sometimes very light in the first few flowers in spring but the yellow petals stay dark. Sunfire doesn’t fool around. From the first flower in spring to the last flower of the year the flowers are always fully formed and full blown open. As much as it varies in color it varies very little in form and always has the classic Sunfire shape. For people who like the shell pink of Peter Slocum on a medium size plant with marbled leaves and a great bloomer, Sunfire is the one. With a 35-40 high petal count and very adaptable to small ponds and pots, Sunfire is an all around great waterlily. It is without a doubt the best hardy hot pink and yellow combo flower available. Its adaptability to smaller pots and its color variations make it great addition to almost any size pond. The flower is large and it blooms extremely well even in smaller pots. The color can vary from almost red to almost white or almost all yellow or anything in between. Usually a well established plant will have hot pinkish-red outer petals that get progressively lighter toward the center of the flower as the petal tips become light yellow until the center petals become all dark yellow. The yellow center petals can be so dark yellow that they approach orange or very light approaching white and the center yellow petals can be only one row or can be almost the entire flower. Occasionally an almost all white flower will appear, especially in newly transplanted plants and as the plant becomes more established the color returns to the hot pink and yellow that it normally is. It is not uncommon for a flower to appear with wavy or crinkly petals. Sunfire starts blooming very early in the season and blooms until very late. It is the best late season blooming hardy that I know of and has excellent color and wide open flowers into October in zone 6 when all of the other hardies have quit blooming or their color is bad and won’t open fully. Sunfire keeps blooming late with the tropicals but with undiminished color and wide open flower. Sunfire has a great flower to leaf ratio and high petal count with excellent star flower shape and fantastic color on a highly adaptable medium size compact plant that blooms profusely and continuously. If you like a hot pink and yellow combo flower on a great plant with dark marbled leaves, there is no better choice than Sunfire. Open registration in Water Gardeners International website.