William Tricker, Inc. Greenhouses and Water Gardens

William Tricker, Inc. is America’s Oldest Water Garden Store and was established in 1892 by William Tricker. The nursery is a National Historic District listed in the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service.

Tricker's 1930 Pond in Catalog
A painting of a water garden pond from the Tricker 1930 Catalog.

William Tricker, Inc.® is a leading grower of aquatic plants and supplier of water garden products, aquarium supplies, and outdoor decor. With over a century of outstanding experience, we have propagated superior water lilies, lotuses and other aquatic plants in our historic greenhouses. Our customers have been receiving quality and guarantees that make water gardening a pleasurable experience for them.

William Tricker’s History
Many of Tricker’s family members helped to manage the William Tricker’s company. They brought the company to become world-renowned based in the U.S.A.

William Tricker, Inc. survived two World Wars, two Pandemics, the Great Depression, and the Great Recession.
We are here to stay.

William Tricker, nee Charles William Brett Tricker in the upper left of the photo, was born in 1853 in England to Charles Tricker, a gardener. He trained at the well-known Kew Gardens in the United Kingdom before immigrating to the U.S. with his wife in 1885. He received his U.S. citizenship in 1900.

His nursery on Staten Island was developed, then he moved the nursery to Clifton, N.J. He was a founder of the popular Commercial Water Lily Culture in the U.S.

Blue Beauty Water Lily
The ‘Blue Beauty’ Water Lily is an 1896 Tricker Hybrid.

After Mr. Tricker died in 1916, his son, Charles Tricker, continued the business at Saddle River, N.J. which is now the home of the upscale Waterford Gardens. At that time, Charles merged the company with the Independence Nursery.

When Charles Tricker passed away in 1961, Schmidlin became the sole owner of both the Saddle River and Independence facilities. In 1986 Schmidlin sold the business name and Independence grounds with the greenhouses to Richard Lee who passed away in 2022. Richard’s widow, Cindy Lee, now owns and runs the company. She originally worked at Tricker’s under Schmidlin’s management.

William Tricker started hybridizing water lilies in the 1800s. He introduced different shapes, colors and enhanced the hardiness by cross-breeding them. In the early 1890s, he earned a reputation as a lead grower of aquatic plants through hybridizing water lilies.

1891 William Tricker Honorable Mention Certificate
William Tricker Received Honorable Mention Certificate in 1891.

In 1892 the first William Tricker Company catalog was introduced. It’s tradition is carried on today to send the colorful catalog to our water gardeners as well as the USFS, contractors who are restoring wetlands, and botanical gardens. We still have an original copy of the rare 1892 William Tricker Catalog as well as other historic water garden relics.

After going through a few companies during the “Great Depression” and “Panic of 1893”, the business prospered over the years and was incorporated as William Tricker, Inc. in 1927 for the Independence, Ohio store and greenhouses.

Today this century old historic location has spring water that supplies the greenhouses, outdoor ponds, and fish nurseries. It has served the water lily culture since 1899. The property represents a piece of history in water lily culture with the involvement of many pioneers, aquatic specialists, and other business associates who worked over the years at William Tricker, Inc.. They include William Tricker, Albert Buskirk, Robert V. Sawyer, William G. O’Brien, Dr. John Charleson, Wilfred Schmidlin, Charles O. Masters and Gilbert Lambacher.

Tricker's 1900s Delivery Truck
1900s Tricker’s Delivery Truck In the late 1920’s and 1930’s, Tricker delivered aquatics locally in trucks to customers. They also delivered live pond fish in milk canisters.

Many of the water lilies were hybridized and named by these noted individuals and are still available today. Some are unique and “first of a kind” in their respective classes and can be purchased from William Tricker, Inc. You can still enjoy these spectacular water lily hybrids and witness the beauty.

Not only did Tricker’s introduce many new water lily hybrids but over the long history also developed fancy and ornamental fish propagation, fish remedies, pH testing, aquatic fertilizers, fish food formulations, and the manufacture of aquariums and accessories to name a few contributions. We still manufacture and sell the fish food and remedies under the Innurco brand, meaning “Independence Nursery Company”.

When Richard Lee purchased the company, he researched the best type of pond liner that would not leach toxic fumes or get easily damaged. He added the safe Trickerlite pond liner to the array of products that the company offers.

A 1925 Cleveland Flower and Garden Program
A 1925 Cleveland Flower and Garden Program Brochure.

Inside the 1925 Cleveland Flower and Garden Program Brochure is an article written by W.G. O’Brien, “The Lure of the Water Garden” whose title is still alive today. W.G. O’Brien, a 1912 MIT graduate in Chemical Engineering, became the Vice President of William Tricker, Inc. at the Independence nursery where he patented a pH test kit, hybridized the first and only dwarf pink viviparous water lily, ‘Patricia’, and wrote articles about fish keeping, water chemistry, and water gardening. His skills helped to improve water garden maintenance and allow us to extend his inventions to you.

National Park Service
National Historic District

William Tricker Today
William Tricker Inc. is owned and managed by Cindy Lee, the wife of Richard Lee who purchased the company in the 1980’s. Richard honored William Tricker and his heritage by spreading his story. He documented many writings and photographs to get the grounds and buildings of William Tricker, Inc. listed in the National Register of Historic Places, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service.

Tricker’s Newsletter, On Tricker’s Pond, includes articles and photographs from our company showing our interesting century-old history not only about water gardening but also home aquariums. The newsletter includes the trials and tribulations of noted individuals that dedicated their lives to William Tricker, Inc.® to develop a company that continues to offer water gardening and aquarium supplies as well as quality outdoor decor to customers all over the world. Customers have contributed to the newsletter with photographs of their beautiful water gardens as well as their grandparent’s water garden experiences. Be a part of Tricker’s history!