how to grow lotus flowers
Growing from Seed
Scrape the seed with a file. Using a regular metal file, scrape the hard seed coat to reveal the cream-colored kernel. Do not file away any of the core or your lotus will not grow. By filing away the outer shell, water can reach the core.
If you don’t have a metal file handy, you can use any sharp knife or even rub the seed against concrete. Just be careful not to scrape off too much of the seed.
Place your seeds in warm water. Use a glass or clear plastic container so you can see when the seeds start to germinate. Fill the tank with dechlorinated water between 75 and 80 °F (24 and 27 °C).
After a day of soaking, the seeds will sink to the bottom and swell to almost twice their original size. Seeds that float are almost always infertile. Remove them or they will cloud the water.
Change the water daily, even after the seeds have started to germinate. When you remove the plants to change the water, treat the sprouts with care – they are very fragile.
3- Fill a 3 to 5 US gal (11 to 19 L) container with soil 6 inches (15 cm) deep. This size usually provides enough room for a young lotus flower to grow. A black plastic bucket holds the heat to better warm the plants.
Ideally, your soil should be 2 parts clay and 1 part river sand. If you use commercial potting soil for potting soil, it will float to the surface when you submerge your tub in water.
Make sure the container you choose does not have any drainage holes. The plant may be drawn towards the drainage hole and begin to grow outside of it, causing the plant to underperform.
4- Remove seedlings from the water when they are 6 inches (15 cm) tall. Your seeds should begin to germinate after 4 or 5 days of soaking. However, if you transfer them to the potting container too soon, they will likely fail.
If you wait too long, your plants will start to grow leaves. You can still plant them – just make sure to keep the leaves clear of the soil.
Press the germinated seeds into the soil about 10 cm apart. You do not need to bury the seeds in the soil. Place them right on top and then brush a light layer of soil over them to secure them. They will take root on their own.
It may be a good idea to wrap a small amount of modeling clay around the bottom of each seed to anchor it with some weight. When you lower your container into the pond, an unrooted seed may find its way out of the soil and float to the surface of the water.
Submerge the pot in your pond. Lotuses are aquatic plants, so the soil should always have at least 2 to 4 inches (5.1 to 10.2 cm) of water above it. If you have taller plants, the water can be up to 18 inches (46 cm) deep. Dwarf lotus needs water between 2 and 12 inches (5.1 and 30.5 cm) deep.
The water should be at least 21 °C (70 °F). If you live in an area with a relatively cooler climate, shallower water will provide extra warmth to your lotus.
Lotus grown from seed rarely blooms in its first year. You should also keep fertilizer to a minimum during this first year. Let your lotus get used to its environment.
Growing from Tuber
Buy tubers in early spring. You can buy lotus tubers online or at a local nursery or garden center. Due to shipping difficulties, they are usually not available after they break dormancy in the spring. However, you may be able to purchase some that have been grown locally.
For rarer hybrids, you may need to shop online. If there is a water garden community with a chapter near you, ask them for recommendations. Some communities also sell plants themselves.
Float the tuber in a bowl of water between 75 and 87 °F (24 and 31 °C). Place your tuber gently on the surface of the water. Place your bowl near a warm, sunny window, but not in direct sunlight.
If you plan to move the lotus to a pond, use water from the pond (as long as it is warm enough). Change the water every 3 to 7 days, or if it starts to appear cloudy.
Choose a round container with a diameter of 3 to 4 feet (0.91 to 1.22 m). If let loose, a lotus plant will grow as large as the area where it is planted. Your container reins in the lotus and prevents it from taking over your entire pond.
A deep container will reduce the chance of your lotus spilling over the top and spreading across the pond. Round containers prevent your lotus from getting stuck in a corner, which can stunt or kill the plant.
Fill your container with dense soil. A good growing medium for lotus is a soil mixture of about 60 percent clay and 40 percent river sand. Leave about 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10.2 cm) between the top of the soil and the edge of your container.
You can also use amended soil, with a separate layer of sand 2 to 3 inches (5.1 to 7.6 cm) deep on top. Make sure there is still enough space between the top of the sand layer and the edge of your container.
Press the tuber into the top of the soil. Place the tuber slightly in the sand, then weigh it down gently with stones so that it does not float to the surface of the water before it takes root.
Do not bury the tuber completely in the soil – it will rot. Make sure it’s just embedded a little on the surface.
Submerge your container 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) below the surface of your pond. Choose a sunny spot for your lotus that is away from running water and that gives your lotus enough room to grow. Once your tuber is secured in place, you can lower it to the spot you have chosen to plant your lotus.
Once the tuber is in the pond, it plants itself by turning downwards in the soil mixture and growing roots.
Caring for Your Lotus
Maintain a water temperature of at least 21 °C (70 °F). Active growth begins when the surface water reaches this temperature. Your lotus needs warm water to grow to its full potential. Ideally, the air temperature should be at least 70 °F (21 °C) as well.
The lotus will start sending up leaves after a few days in water above 21 °C (70 °F). It blooms after 3 to 4 weeks in water above 80 °F (27 °C).
Check your water temperature every other day. If you live in a cooler climate, you may need a heater for your pond to maintain the proper temperature.
Keep your lotus in direct sunlight. Lotus plants thrive in full sun and require at least 5 to 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. If your pond is partially shaded, you may want to prune or remove surrounding foliage that blocks the sun. In North America, the lotus flower usually blooms from mid-June or mid-July to early fall. The flowers open early in the morning and begin to close in the mid-afternoon. Individual flowers last 3 to 5 days and then fade. The process is repeated for the remaining months of active growth.
Prune dying flowers and yellow or damaged leaves. If your lotus starts to take over your pond, you can also cut back new growth, but keep in mind that it will regrow until the lotus plant is repotted in the spring. Never cut flower or leaf stems below the water level. Roots and tubers use stems for oxygen. 4
Use dust flaps to fertilize your lotus. Dust tablets are fertilizers made especially for aquatic plants. Wait until your tuber has developed at least 6 leaves before fertilizing it, and do not apply the fertilizer directly to the tuber itself. Small lotus varieties only need 2 tablets, while larger varieties may need as many as 4. Add fertilizer once every 3 or 4 weeks, stopping in mid-July. If you continue to fertilize your lotus after this point, it will not be able to prepare for dormancy.
If you grew your lotus from seed, do not fertilize it for the first year.
Watch out for pests. Although pests vary depending on your geographic location, aphids and caterpillars can be attracted to lotus leaves. Applying a small amount of powdered pesticide directly to the leaves will protect your lotus plant from these pests. Liquid pesticides, even organic ones, have oils and detergents that can harm your lotus.
Move your lotus to deeper water in the fall. Lotus plants can spend the winter in ponds as far north as Michigan or Minnesota as long as the pond is deep enough to protect the tubers from ice. At least the tuber should be below the frost line, a depth that varies depending on where you live. If your pond is relatively shallow, you can remove the container and leave it in a garage or basement until spring. Mulch around all pots above ground to keep tubers warm.
Replant the tuber every year. In early spring, when you notice the first sign of new growth, give your lotus fresh soil and return it to its original container (unless the container is damaged). Replace it in your pond at the same depth as before. If your lotus took over your pond the previous year, inspect the container for cracks. You may want to get a larger container to better hold the lotus, if it grew over the edge.