Lotus plants are not only visually stunning but also surprisingly easy to grow. With their vibrant colors and tropical appearance, lotus plants can thrive in various climates, even surviving Chicago’s cold winters. In this article, we will explore the process of cultivating lotus seeds, providing you with insights into how to successfully grow this majestic aquatic plant.
The Beauty of Lotus Plants
Lotus flowers come in a range of colors, including white, red, pink, yellow, lavender, and blue. These magnificent blooms grace gardens from early to late summer, adding a touch of elegance to any landscape. It’s no wonder that the lotus is India’s national flower.
While lotus plants are related to water lilies, they differ in the way their flowers and foliage are held. Lotus plants have stalks that elevate the flowers and foliage above the water’s surface, while water lilies’ flowers and foliage pads float on the water. It’s important to note that tropical water lily flowers also bloom above the water line.
Lotus plants are hardy in zones 5-10, making them suitable for most areas of North America.
Growing Lotus: Ponds vs. Containers
It is recommended to plant lotus in containers, even if you plan to place them at the bottom of a pond. This allows for more flexibility in moving and fertilizing the plants.
Soil and Sun Requirements
For optimal growth and blooming, lotus plants require a minimum of six hours of sunlight per day. When it comes to soil, you have several options. Special soil designed for pond plants is available, or you can use heavy topsoil or clay. Avoid using garden soil or soil with high levels of organic material, as they can cause the seeds or tubers to rot. However, adding a small amount of compost to your soil mix is beneficial. Consider combining 80% clay or topsoil with 20% composted soil for a well-balanced mixture.
Planting Lotus Tubers
When you obtain a live lotus plant, either online or from a local nursery, it will typically be in the form of a tuber. The tuber consists of the bottom part of the plant, including the roots.
Upon receiving your lotus tuber, plant it promptly to ensure its vitality. The tuber may appear wilted or half-dead, but this is normal. Delicately handle the growth tips, which are the lobster claw-like protrusions on the tuber, as damaging them can jeopardize the plant’s survival.
To plant the tuber:
- Use a water-tight container without drainage holes, as this will serve as your planting container.
- Fill the container with at least four inches of soil.
- Moisten the soil by adding just enough water to wet it, without leaving any standing water.
- Gently place the tuber on the surface of the moist soil.
- Cover the tuber with approximately four inches of soil, ensuring the growth tips are facing upwards and slightly exposed.
- Add a thin layer of sand or gravel on top of the soil to secure the tuber in place and prevent muddy water when placing the container in a larger pond or container pond.
- Fill the container with additional water to cover the tuber above the tips. The growth tips should always remain submerged, so replenish the water daily or every other day as it evaporates.
- Find a sunny spot to place your container.
Once your lotus plant develops aerial leaf growth (leaves that extend above the water line), you can transfer it to a pond or a larger container. Ensure that the new container has no drainage holes, or seal them with silicone caulking. Whiskey barrels or large ceramic containers work well for this purpose.
Growing Lotus from Seeds
If you prefer to start your lotus plant from seeds, there are several steps to follow:
- Soak the seeds in warm water for 24 to 48 hours before planting.
- Fill a container with water and plant the soaked seeds in the soil at the bottom.
- Maintain a water depth of at least three inches.
- Place the container in a sunny location.
- As the plants grow, gradually increase the water depth to a maximum of 12 inches.
To ensure prolific blooms, here are a few essential tips:
- Guarantee your lotus plant receives a minimum of six hours of sunlight per day.
- Fertilize the plant after the aerial pads emerge from the water’s surface. Use a fertilizer specifically formulated for aquatic pond plants. Look for a balanced NPK ratio, such as “10-14-8,” to enhance foliage and flower production. These fertilizers usually come in the form of small tabs that you insert into the soil of your potted lotus plant. Always follow the package instructions for optimal results.
Purchasing Lotus Plants
You can find lotus plants at your local water garden nurseries or online retailers. To make your search easier, Ames Farm Center offers a wide selection of lotus plants and related products. Visit their website at Ames Farm Center to explore your options.
With their captivating beauty and ease of cultivation, lotus plants make a splendid addition to any garden or landscape. Whether you choose to grow them from tubers or seeds, following the proper planting techniques and ensuring they receive adequate sunlight and nourishment will result in abundant blooms. Embrace the opportunity to cultivate these magnificent aquatic plants and create a serene oasis in your outdoor space.