Growing Lotus from Seed: Create Your Own Mini Oasis

Photo of Manchurian lotus with a dark background. Image by Tim Ervin.

Imagine having your own picturesque oasis, adorned with fragrant and vibrant lotus blooms. You don’t have to visit Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens to experience this paradise – you can create it right at home. With a sunny spot, a large pot, and a handful of lotus seeds, you can grow your very own lotus. Let us guide you through the step-by-step process of preparing and growing your own lotus from seed!

Supplies

Lotus are remarkably easy to grow; they have simple requirements for successful cultivation. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • A sunny spot: Lotus thrive in full sun and need at least 6 hours of light per day.
  • A warm area: Lotus prefer a water temperature between 75 and 87 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • A large, deep pot: Find a pot that is at least 12″ deep and 24″ wide, without any holes at the bottom.
  • Lotus seeds: You can purchase them from the Visitor Center at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens or from online seed companies.
  • Sand and soil: Choose clay-rich soil instead of regular potting soil to prevent it from floating in water. Fill your pot or pond with 3-5 inches of the mixture.
  • A small cup for sprouting.
  • A knife or file to prepare your seeds.
  • Aquatic fertilizer (if desired): A 10-14-8 aquatic fertilizer is recommended.

Preparing the Seeds

Lotus seeds have a dark brown protective layer that allows them to remain dormant for years. Before germination, it’s crucial to remove this outer layer. File or cut the seed gently until the cream-colored layer is visible, enabling water penetration. Dark brown and hard, lotus seeds are similar in size to tiny acorns.

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Photo depicting hand holding five lotus seeds with lotus leaves in a home garden. Photo by Goresm.
Photo of a hand holding a sprouted lotus seed above a bowl of water with sprouting lotus seeds. Photo by Zenyrgarden.

Place the prepared seeds in a clear container filled with warm water, and put it on a sunny windowsill for germination. Keep the water warm and clean, changing it if cloudy to prevent bacterial growth. After about a week, you should see sprouts starting to emerge.

Once the sprouted seed stems reach around four inches in length, transfer them to a shallow bowl with a few inches of your soil mix. Add warm water to cover the sprouts. Once the plant is established in the shallow bowl, it’s time to proceed to the next step.

Planting

To ensure your lotus thrives, finding the right pot is crucial. Lotus love warm water but need ample space to grow. Choose a pot that is at least 12″ deep and 24″ wide. The soil you use is equally important – it should contain a mixture of sand and clay, with minimal organic matter. Regular potting soil contains organic material that will float, rather than settle at the bottom of your pot or pond.

Photo of five lotus seeds sprouted in a bowl of water with a lotus leaf emerging. Photo by Zenyrgarden.
Photo of a lotus bloom and leaf emerging from a pot in a home garden. Photo by Khalid Mahmood.

When your lotus has sprouted a few leaves and established healthy tubers, it’s time to transfer them to their permanent home. Add 3-5 inches of the soil mixture to the bottom of your pot and plant the lotus tubers. Fill the pot with warm water, ensuring the leaves are barely covered. As the lotus leaves grow, gradually add more water until it reaches the top of the pot. Regularly check the water level to prevent excessive evaporation.

Now, sit back and watch as your lotus matures. Once you see aerial leaves emerging from the water, your plant is on its way to blooming. In the second year of growth, you can expect beautiful lotus blooms, transforming your backyard or porch into a small oasis.

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Photo of a garden pond with various aquatic plants, including lotus. Photo by brewbooks.

Other Tips and Recommendations

Growing lotus can be a delightful experience, but it does come with its challenges. Here are some recommendations and tips to help you along the way:

  • In the first year of growth, it’s normal for lotus plants to only have leaves, as they focus on establishing their tubers. Beautiful blooms will appear in the following year. However, if you start with tubers, you may see flowers in the first year.
  • Don’t be alarmed if you notice yellowing and wilting leaves after a growth spurt. This is a temporary dormancy period during which the tubers thicken. Once growth resumes, new leaves will emerge.
  • Fertilize your lotus once the aerial leaves appear to promote healthy growth. A 10-14-8 aquatic fertilizer is ideal.
  • During the coldest months, consider bringing your pot indoors to protect the lotus during winter. Lotus plants recover more easily when the water doesn’t freeze completely.
  • Take your location’s temperature into account when starting your seeds. In the mid and northern United States, lotus seeds can be started in May and transplanted outdoors by mid-June. Southern US regions can begin in April.

Remember, it is against National Park Service rules to take anything from the park. Therefore, support your local park by purchasing lotus seeds from trusted sources like Friends or online retailers.

Photo of a pink lotus bloom and green lotus seed pod with lotus leaves in the background. Photo by Karl Meyer.

References and Further Reading:

Photo of pink lotus petals with a green lotus leaf. Photo by Heather Wild.

Finish your journey to creating a lotus haven with the help of these references and explore more about lotus cultivation. It’s time to immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquility of your very own lotus pond.

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