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The second oldest glasshouse at Kew Gardens, the Waterlily House provides the warmest and most humid growing conditions at Kew.
© RBG Kew

The Waterlily House

This small, square glasshouse, located next to the Palm House, is the hottest and most humid of all the glasshouses at Kew and was designed specifically to showcase the giant Amazon waterlily (Victoria amazonica).

Completed in 1852, The Waterlily House is the second oldest of Kew’s glasshouses and is now a listed building. It encloses a circular pond, spanning over 10 metres. Fish and a harmless, black food dye are used to prevent algae growth in the pond. The black water also helps to create beautiful reflections.

In summer, as well as a wonderful collection of waterlilies, the pond is home to lotus, ferns, papyrus and other exotic plants.

Visit in autumn and the stunning display of gourds is at its peak. These climbing plants are members of the Cucurbitaceae family, along with cucumbers, melons and marrows. Gourds were one of the earliest fruits to be domesticated by humans and over the centuries have been used in a variety of different ways from making cups and bowls to musical instruments and birdhouses. In Neolithic times, gourd skins were even used to replace missing portions of skulls!


The Waterlily House