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Lotus are typically started in January - March in the home. The reason for the early start is to ensure you have blooms the first year.  Lotus typically bloom in late June or early July and will bloom for several weeks and then stop blooming.

The smaller growing varieties are very likely to bloom the first year the tubers are started.  The larger growing varieties may or may not produce a bloom the first year. If you live in a cold zone, I highly recommend you start with a smaller growing variety.

Once the tubers are dug, there are no roots and it takes about 6 weeks for roots to grow. You may have a single leaf come up right away but it will die because there are no roots on the tuber to support the growth (take up nutrients from the dirt)

Please handle your Lotus tuber carefully, because they are fragile and can be easily damaged.

pictures above show what the tuber might look likepictures above show what the tuber might look like
Lotus can only be divided when they are dormant and that is January to March depending on where you live. They cannot not be divided if there are leaves present.

Once the tubers are dug or the pot turned over carefully remove all the dirt. Wash with a garden hose to remove all traces of dirt.

Carefully using a very sharp knife cut the tubers apart. The tuber has to have a node and an inter-node.  If one of these are missing, the tuber will not grow.

Can you see the growing tip located just above my thumb in the picture above? Click on the picture to enlarge it.

This picture shows the tubers and runners that have all the dirt washed off
This picture shows the tubers and runners that havebeen washed. Click on picture to enlarge. The runners, while they can be planted, will not produce much growth the first year and they certainly will not bloom the first year.

Use the same type of soil that you use for lilies. I use heavy garden soil or a garden soil/clay mix. You can buy "Top Soil" in bags at most garden centers or nurseries. Make sure the bag does not say potting soil; potting soil is light and designed to use for growing house plants. Do not use artificial soil (also know as soil less media) because it will float out of the pot and cloud the water.

Here in North Carolina we have red clay and we mix the red clay with bags of composted cow manure.  Composted cow manure has no smell and looks like rich black dirt.

lotus tuber laying on top of dirt ready to be covered up
Begin by fill the planting container with dirt.  Use your finger to make a depression approximately 2 inches deep in the middle of the pot.

Place the tuber in the soil with the thickest portion down in the soil so that it will ultimately be covered with about two inches of soil. Place it with the smaller end, the growing tip, pointing up and out of the soil. The growing tip must be exposed and not have any soil covering it up. This is important.

Place a good size stone on top of the tuber end to hold it in contact with the soil. This will also keep the tuber from floating out of the pot. Carefully add dirt over all the parts of the tuber. Once you have added the soil, cover the Lotus tuber 1/2 to 1 inch of pea gravel taking care once again not to cover the tip. If you have fish in your pond, they love the tubers and if your fish like to dig in pond plants you can be sure the Lotus tuber will float out so you may want to add more gravel.

note that the growing tip is NOT covered


Can you see the growing tip is up above the dirt?  This tip must also be up above the gravel.

Don't put the Lotus in the pond right away because even with gravel the un-rooted tuber will float out of the pot.

After you have added the small rocks or gravel, slowly and carefully add water to the pot.

NOTE: if you are not growing your lotus in a pond but on a deck, porch or patio, the small rocks or gravel is not needed.

Place the pot in a warm sunny area inside your home.  Initially no sunlight is needed

I place the plant in a warm sunny area like a deck or patio until new growth is evident. This way if the weather gets cold at night, as it can in the spring, you can bring it inside for the night. When you are planting the Lotus in the spring put about three fertilizer tablets in the soil but make sure that these tablets do not touch the tuber itself. It is best to put them near the outside edges of the pan. DO NOT add fertilizer tablets if you are planting in the fall.

After the Lotus is planted slowly add a couple of inches of water, being careful not to expose any part of the plant except the growing tip. Like lilies, Lotus will not grow if this tip is not exposed to water at all times. Check the water level in the pan every day and add more as needed. It must not be allowed to dry out or death is certain. Once you see several new leaves that means the tuber has rooted and you can then place it in the pond so that there is about 3 or 4 inches of water over the top of the Lotus pan. If you decide you want to add the Lotus to your pond water the water depth is important. Dwarf varieties should be ultimately placed no more than 4 inches and full sized varieties should be place no deeper than 6 inches. When adding to the pond make sure that there is good top growth as that is an indication that the roots have taken hold and started to grow.

I grow them pond side for 2 reasons. #1. Because my fish love Lotus and #2.
In order to bloom freely, Lotus must be fed regularly and that can cause green water in the pond. I feed/fertilize mine every 3 weeks using Job’s sticks for blooming plants.

To grow them pond site, I dig out an area near the pond that will accommodate the pan. Then I simply lower the pan into this hole. As the foliage grows the leaves will camouflage the pan so it is not visible.
Dividing tubers Growing Lotus outside of a pond

 

 
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