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Lotus Flowers and Lotus Plants

The large, fragrant Lotus Flowers of Lotus Plants are Show Stoppers.

The lotus plants are one of the most desired plants for water gardens. The Lotus flower is spectacular and come in shades of white, pink, yellow and More.

The history and lore surrounding lotus plants have left a lot of people with the impression that they are tropical or at least hard to grow. While it is true that they may overwhelm a small pond, they do not need any more care than a water lily once they are established. All they absolutely require is two to three months of daytime temperatures over 80° F. All lotuses are hardy to Zone 4, and some will survive in Zone 3.

Growing Lotuses can be easy and fun. Lotuses can be grown from either tuber or from seed. If you grow from tuber, you will have an exact duplicate of the parent, in many cases a named cultivar. If growing from seed, please keep in mind that, even if a name comes with the seeds, the offspring will be quite variable because of the genetics involved and they can't retain the cultivar name.

There are only two species: the sacred East Indian lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), which can be pink or white, and our native American lotus (N. lutea) which is yellow. But hybridizers have wrung vast variety from the genes of these two, so lotuses can range in height from less than 2 feet to more than 8 feet.

Lotus flowers are fragrant and can be as big as a basketball. Most bloom for only three days, many of them changing color each day. These are flowers for early birds. The first day, they open before dawn and close again by the time most of us are at work. The second day, they are open from midmorning to noon, and on the last day the petals fall by mid-afternoon.

Lotus seeds and tubers are edible. This fact is reflected in one of the older names for American lotus: pond nuts. Another of its names is water chinquapin, chinquapins being nuts related to chestnuts.

The center of the flower matures into an interesting pod full of seeds and when dried looks very interesting in flower arrangements. Though these lotus flower only last a few days, lotuses are equally revered for their parasol-like foliage and dramatic, flat-topped seed pods.

Lotus picture
The lotus plants favor a sunny, hot, humid summer without excessive rainfall. It is a tuber-forming plant; the tubers are harvested in the spring, if necessary. Lotus plants in adequately sized plant containers may not require harvest or maintenance for 3 to 5 years or more.

With some varieties, it can take several years for them to bloom, and this can also be dependent on your location. In the meantime, you can enjoy the spectacular foliage, almost enough by itself!

Growing Lotuses

For each lotus tuber, you will need a round planting tub about 18 inches in diameter and at least 9 inches deep. One 3 feet in diameter and 1 foot deep is even better. When you receive your lotus tuber, you will probably notice one or more buds, or growing tips. These are delicate, so be careful not to break them. In fact, most experts recommend against planting lotuses in square containers because the buds are so delicate that they can break just by jamming into a corner as they grow

You need to plant your tuber as early in spring as possible, before it turns into a maze of runners. You can plant lotuses in March in Zone 9, but wait until May in Zone 4. Gardeners in between should plant in April. Fill your tub to within 2 to 3 inches from the top with heavy garden soil. Lay the rhizome on the soil horizontally and add a couple more inches of soil, leaving about ½ inch of the lotus’s growing tip above the surface. Add ½ inch or so of clean gravel to hold the soil down, keeping it away from the bud.

Lotuses are heavy feeders; add four to six fertilizer pellets at this point to ensure a good display. Continue to fertilize once or twice a month after planting, until about a month before your first frost date occurs.

Place your tub in the pond with just 2 to 3 inches of water above the growing tip. Lotuses can handle about 1 foot of water over their tips, but most growers now believe that less is better. You should see your fist floating leaves three to four weeks after the water has reached 80° F.

Lotuses can be grown in the main pond, a separate small pond, or self contained in decorative pots for the patio or deck. Water over the pot or soil in the container should be at least 8" deep. If growing in the pond, be sure that runners don't escape the container and invade the pond. They can overwhelm other pond plants.

If your pond will freeze in winter you need to lift your lotus container and store it in a plastic bag in a cool, frost free place (ideally around 55° F). Lotus flower grown in tubs can sometimes be over wintered if you can bury the tub in the ground.

If you want to try starting your own lotuses, collect seeds when the pod has turned brown, dry them, and save them until early spring. Then nick a hole in the hard seed covering and drop the seeds in water, where they should germinate for 10 to 20 days. Transplant the seedlings to soil once the third leaf has appeared.

Your tuber should be firm and have a healthy growing tip. Be very careful not to damage the tips as they are quite fragile and critical to growing the plant.

Important: when you are ordering bareroot tubers through the mail, make sure that they do not suffer transplant shock caused by water that is too cold. Move the container to a sunny location for several days prior to moving the container into the pond water.

Important: To avoid burning the tuber with too much fertilizer when planting initially, when established, lotus flower are know as big feeders and over fertilizing should not be a problem.

The Mystical Lotus

This Lotus Flower comes in a variety of colors, sizes and bloom styles. They range in height from 2 ft to 8 ft. Runners can grow from 20 to 60 feet a year. Lotus should always be contained unless you intend to allow them to consume the entire body of water. They can be grown successfully in or out of the water garden, but an adequate reservoir must be maintained.

Although they prefer full sun, lotus plants will tolerate some shade in hot climates.

They are usually very easy to care for; here are a few tips to keep your lotus plants healthy for many years to come.

Tip 1 Plant them in submerged tubs or plant containers. Lotus requires only a few inches of water on top of their roots. Choose round containers for lotuses so future runners don't get jammed in square corners. Soil can be anything readily available but avoid potting soils which contain light materials that will float away. Plant your lotus tuber in the soil with the growing tip at soil level and pointed toward the center of the pot.

Tip 2 They are heavy feeders and like lots of plant fertilizer once they get going. Lotus plants do best with more fertilizer than other plants. Provide fertilizer at least every 3 to 4 weeks to maintain the color of the foliage and encourage flowering. Fertilizer should not be added in spring until the plant has several aerial leaves, or too many salts may accumulate in the soil. The dormant tubers carry no roots, and until active runner growth establishes itself, the plant cannot consume nutrients. Push plant fertilizer deep into the soil to make it accessible to the roots. Important:If the pot has no hole in the bottom, the fertilizer does not get out into the pond and provoke an algal bloom. You just have to remember to water the lotus frequently to keep the required amount of water over the top of its roots. If you keep your lotus pots above the level of the pond water you will not have to worry about too much fertilizer being in your pond.

Tip 3 In cold climates, lotus plants grown in containers above ground should be wintered in an area protected from freezing, such as a garage or cold basement. A lotus will not come back if the tuber is allowed to freeze.

Tip 4 Planting a lotus flower is a little different from planting a water lily. Lotus flower are usually large and very vigorous plants. They have horizontally growing tubers that will spread very quickly, so a shallow, wide pot is the best for lotus. If you use a closed container if will keep your fish from digging up your plant while still ensuring that the water level will be over the roots of the plant.

Large lotus plants require large pots 3 to 4 feet in diameter. The dwarf varieties should be planted in bushel-size containers

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lotus flower picture

The Lotus Flower is a highly versatile plant with a broad range of sizes and colors available. Admired by many, it has endless character, rich history and cultural importance.

A Lotus tuber looks a bit like a double banana, with one or two buds. The entire structure is extremely fragile. So, handle with care. If the growing end is accidentally broken off, you might as well throw the whole thing away, as the remaining sections will rot.

When you have a healthy looking lotus root stock, plant it right away, as early in the growing season as possible. The more runners it has the more complicated it becomes while handling.

Lotuses really need 2 or 3 consecutive months of temperatures over 80° F before planting.

Lotuses will do well in a shady pond as long as the water stays warm.

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