Lotus flowers are beautiful aquatic plants that represent beauty and purity, and they are available in a range of sizes and colors. The most common colors are red, pink, yellow, and white. The plants can be grown from seeds or tubers, but seeds will not produce a flower the first year while they develop into tubers.
ABOUT LOTUS PLANTS – Nelumbo Nucifer
The lotus flower is one of nature’s most beautiful creations. Nelumbo have existed on the earth for thousands of years and their distribution is widespread.
They grow in a wide variety of climates from South America to Russia and everywhere between. In Asia countries such as India, China, Japan and Korea regard the lotus as sacred. In North America the lotus ranges from Southern California all the way to Canada. And in Australia you can grow lotus from the tropics of North Queensland to the Snowy Mountains and Tasmania.
There are two types of lotus, the tropical and the perennial temperate varieties. Both species look almost the same, the main difference is the tropical type grows all year round and the perennial varieties go dormant during the cooler months and re-shoot in spring.
The lotus comes in a range of sizes with some varieties reaching 6 foot high (in dams and lakes) while other miniature varieties grow happily in a 6 inch bowl. In other words there’s a lotus to suit every situation. The lotus can be grown in a wide variety of ways from free standing bowls on your patio to a pond in your backyard, or a large earth lake on your property.
IMPORTANT things to remember…
1.Lotus need 6 hours sun a day.
2.Keep Lotus away from flowing water or fountains.
4.Don’t submerge the growing leaves.
5.Re-pot your lotus in a larger container.
6.Protect your young lotus from birds & crustaceans.
7.Fertilize in summer.
BOWLS & POTS
Firstly lotus need 6 hours of direct sunlight to flower. So when deciding on a position for your new plant, make sure it has plenty of sunshine. Secondly Lotus are water plants and if your growing them in a pot or bowl make sure you keep the water level 5cm over the soil, but DON’T submerge the leaves. Normal tap water is fine to use.
We suggest bowls and pots wider than 40cm with a depth of 20cm for small varieties and 80cm wide with a depth of 30cm for larger varieties.
To re-pot your lotus carefully take the plant out of the nursery pot, DON’T disturb the ROOTS. Then place your plant in the middle of your new wide pot or bowl. Carefully put topsoil (good garden soil) around the lotus and fill the container 1/3rd with the soil, DON’T use potting mix. Then add 3cm of pea gravel over the soil and fill the pot or bowl with water, remember DON’T submerge growing leaves.
Fertilize with special lotus satchels once a year between December and January. To fertilize push the satchel into the edge of the bowl or pot till it reaches the bottom of the soil. Now a guide of how much fertilizer to use is…
Bowl/Pot 40cm – 60cm wide: 1 satchel.
Bowl/Pot over 80cm wide: 2 satchels.
As outlined above in BOWLS & POTS, lotus need 6 hours of sun a day to flower.
We recommend you re-pot your lotus into a larger pot before you place the plant into your pond. Follow the instructions in BOWLS & POTS on how to re-pot your plant.
Then place your lotus in a sunny spot in your pond. Make sure the water level covers the top of the pot, but DON’T submerge the leaves.
Keep your lotus well away from flowing water features or fountains.
To fertilize your lotus follow the instructions in BOWLS & POTS.
DAMS & LAKES
This is the most successful way to grow lotus. There are two ways you can plant your lotus in a dam or lake:
1.Cut 150mm piece out of the side of the nursery pot, NOT THE BOTTOM. Then place the plant in a sunny in 30-50cm of still water near the edge of your dam. Push some mud from the dam against the side of the pot where section has been removed.
2.Take lotus out of nursery pot very carefully trying not to disturb the roots. Place in a sunny spot in 30-50cm of still water near the edge of the dam. Push mud from dam around the plant.
VERY IMPORTANT – Place protective chicken wire around plant for the first 3-4 weeks if you have water birds, yabbies’ or crayfish in your dam. Your new lotus plant will follow the receding water line in your dam or lake once they get growing. Fertilize with special lotus satchels once a year between December and January.
Growing from Seed
Scar the seeds. File the pointed tip of the seed down to one layer using a standard metal file. If you do not scar the seed, it will not grow and may rot.
Place the seeds into a glass of warm water. The water should not be chlorinated and must be changed every day until the lotus seeds sprout. After the first day of soaking, the seeds should swell to nearly twice their original size.
Seeds that float are almost always infertile. File any floating seeds down until you see a hint of the white meat on the inside of the seed. If these seeds do not swell like the others, discard them to avoid letting them cloud up the water.
Continue changing the water daily even after the seeds sprout. You must be more delicate than before to avoid disturbing the growth, however. Growth should start after four or five days of soaking, but you will need to wait a few more days until the seedling is at least 6 in. (15.24 cm) long before transferring.
Pick the right pot.
A 3 to 5 gallon (11 to 19 liter) container should provide a young lotus plant with enough room to grow. A black plastic bucket works best because of its ability to retain heat and warm the seedlings. You also need to choose a bucket that does not have any drainage holes. The plant can actually gravitate toward the drainage holes and begin growing outside of them, causing the plant to under-perform.
Anchor the seeds. Lotus seeds without an anchor may find their way out of the soil and end up floating on the surface of the water. Gently wrap a small amount of modeling clay around each seed, but do not cover the sprout.
Fill your pot with dense soil. The ideal soil is about two parts clay and one part river sand. Fill the pot with about 6 in. (15.24 cm) of this potting medium.
Gently press the seeds into the top of the soil. The seeds should rest near the top of the soil, but you should brush a light layer of soil over the seeds after you press them in.
Lower the pot into shallow water. The water should be a maximum of 18 in. (45.72 cm) deep and at a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21.1 degrees Celsius).
Growing from Tuber
Float the tuber in a large bowl. Fill the bowl with warm water until it is nearly full and rest the tuber on the surface of the water. The tuber should float. Place the bowl near a warm window and change the water every three to seven days.
Do not expose the tuber to direct sunlight or freezing temperatures.
Plant the lotus within a few weeks after the tuber sprouts.
Select the right container. The right size container will depend on the type of lotus you chose. Bowl lotuses are very small and can fit comfortably inside a 2-gallon (7.57-liter) container, but a large lotus may need a 50-gallon (189.27-liter) container.
Make sure that your container does not have holes. Your lotus may begin growing out of the holes, creating a mess and causing it to perform poorly.
Fill your container with dirt. The best dirt is about 60 percent clay and 40 percent river sand, but most dense soils will work sufficiently well. Leave about 1 to 4 in. (2.54 to 10.16 cm) of empty space in between the top of the soil and the rim of the pot.
Place the pot in a shallow pond or tank. For now, the surface level of the water should only be about as high as the pot, if not a little higher.
Set the tuber on top of the soil. Place it in a horizontal position with the back part next to the wall of the container and the growing point toward the center. The growing points should stick straight up.
Gently press the tuber into the soil just enough to anchor it, but do not bury it too deep.
The surface of the water should only be slightly higher than the top of the growing tip.
Image titled Grow Lotus Flower Step 146
After a few days, place the pot into your pond. Your plant will be ready for deeper water once the growing tips show leaves. Smaller types of lotus only need 1 to 6 in. (2.54 to 15.24 cm) of water covering the top of the soil, but larger varieties may need up to 3 feet (0.9 m). (1 m) of water.
Place a rock on top of the tuber to weigh it down. If you do not weigh the tuber down, it will float to the surface of the water.
Maintain a water temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). The plant only grows at temperatures that high or higher.
Give your lotus as much sun as possible. Lotus plants thrive in full sun, but if your pond is not located in full sun, you should at least give the plant as much sunlight as possible by removing any foliage from other plants that may block out the sun.
After temperatures rise about 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius), you should consider adding some shade to prevent the delicate leaves from burning.
Prune your lotus as necessary. Snip away yellow leaves, but only cut the stems off above the surface of the water.
Fertilize your lotus using pond tabs. Pond tablets are specially made for use with aquatic plants. Small varieties only need about 2 tablets, but large varieties may need 4 tablets.
If growing your lotus from seed, do not fertilize during the first year of growth.
Begin fertilizing after a lotus tuber sprouts six leaves.
Add fertilizer every three to four weeks.
Watch for pests. Aphids and caterpillars are known to be attracted to lotus leaves, so you may need to apply a small amount of powdered pesticide to the leaves in order to kill these pests. Do not apply liquid pesticides, however, since liquid pesticides are more likely to burn the leaves.
If you prefer to stay away from chemical fertilizers, you could try an organic fertilizer made of sea kelp or fish meal.