Lotus (Nelumbo lutea, Nelumbo nucifera)

The lotus is a large, aquatic, flowering plant with species native to both the United States (Nelumbo lutea) and Asia (Nelumbo nucifera). These plants produce large emergent lily pads that can reach up to 18 inches across and up to 3 above the surface of the water. The plants themselves can grow from 2 to 5 feet tall, depending on species and variety. Most lotus available for water gardens are hybrid varieties. Lotus can be found in both full size and “dwarf” varieties and are available in a number of blossom colors including whites, yellows, pinks, and reds.

The lotus is a day blooming plant. Flowers open in the early morning and begin to close by mid afternoon, and completely at night, Lotus plants will begin blooming in mid June to July and will continue to bloom into early autumn. The flowers are up to 11 inches across and typically last 3 to 5 days. After 3 lays the petals will begin to fall off, leaving behind a distinctive seed pod.

Lotus plants are slow growing early in the season, picking up speed once temperatures have hit the upper 70s to mid 80s. They should be placed in full sun and fertilized frequently during the growing season to ensure large foliage and consistent flowering. Several fertilizer tablets (TWG2714) pressed into the pot at least once a month should be sufficient.

When planting lotus, be sure to use a large pot, such as a lotus pot (HA8906). Fill the pot with a nutrient rich substrate designed for aquatic plants (EL128) and cap with a larger particle substrate (AL145) to prevent curious fish from uprooting freshly potted plants.

Lotus may be potted and placed in a pond as a striking showpiece plant or potted in a container for a dramatic display on a patio or deck. If planting in a container, be sure there is at least 2 to 3 inches of water over the top of the substrate to prevent to tuber and roots from drying out.

Despite their exotic looks, lotus are hardy from zones 5 to 11 and will grow back year after year.

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