Apr 3rd, 2021

Lotus Home Garden

Are you looking for a new plant to grow and to spruce up your home garden? Consider adding lotus! Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) is a relatively easy way to bring beauty and peace to your home garden. 

Pink Lotus

Nelumbo nucifera ‘Mrs. Perry D. Slocum’  blooming in the summertime in Sydnor Lake at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Image by Tom Hennessy.

Planting Supplies

You just need a few items to start things off:

  • Lotus rhizomes or tuber
  •  A watertight container
  • Topsoil
  • Water (rainwater is best)
  • Gardening spirit!

The easiest way to grow these beauties is to plant a rhizome, also known as a tuber, in spring. You can find tubers at a plant nursery or garden center that specializes in water gardening. Another option is to buy them online, where you will find a wider selection. This may be the way to go if you are looking for something in particular, like the Nelumbo nuciferaMrs. Perry D. Slocum’ we grow at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

Sacred Lotus Bloom

Most sacred lotus begin blooming in June and lasts until September

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden horticulturist Dean Dietrich has grown lotus in containers in the Central Garden the past few summers.  He’s what we’d call an expert, so I sat down with him to get some tips.

“Lotus are an enjoyable and easy plant to care for in your garden. Most gardeners think that you can only grow them in water gardens but they are just as happy growing in a watertight container!” Lotuses can sometimes become invasive, so planting them in a container is a way to avoid that from happening.

One of Dean’s personal favorites is N. nucifera ‘Perry’s Giant Sunburst,’ a beautiful creamy yellow flower with plate-sized, 12-inch blooms. ‘Perry’s Giant Sunburst’ does well in containers so it makes a perfect addition to your home garden. My personal favorite is N. nucifera ‘Carolina Queen,’ a glowing pink bloom that reminds me of Sleeping Beauty.

Dean usually buys the blooms he features in the Central Garden containers from Ten Mile Creek Nursery. This online provider has a great selection, with colors ranging from red to magenta to Versicolor. They have lotus with changeable colors, as well as micro-lotus and giant lotus. Did you know that they come in categories of single or few-petal, semi-double, double and even thousand petals? The Pond Megastore also offers a wide variety of lotus as well as waterlilies if you want to add more detail to your water garden.

The Planting Process

To plant the tuber, you need to have a wide, watertight container that is free of holes. The size of the pot depends on the type you intend to grow. The general rule of thumb is the larger the lotus, the larger the pot. Fill up the pot about two-thirds of the way with topsoil. Next, form a trench in the soil and place the tuber in with the growth tips pointing up. The tuber should be covered up with soil but the growth tips should poke out of the soil level. Next, add enough water so it is about two to three inches above the soil and growth tips.

After your tuber is successfully planted, move your pot outside in a sunny area. That’s it! Sit back, relax, and wait for these beauties to appear.  They take about three to four weeks to bloom in warm weather, so we recommend you begin growing your lotus outside in April or May. If you want to start earlier for a longer bloom time, keep your potted tuber on a heating mat indoors and in a sunny place. You can move the pot outside when it gets warmer.

Sacred Lotus can be found in Lake Syndor from May to as late as August. Image by Tom Hennessy.

 Some More Helpful Tips:

  • After your tuber has begun to sprout and actively grow, add fertilizer tablets every two weeks for continuous blooming.
  • Be sure to keep the water level about two to three inches above the soil. The water will evaporate especially as the summer heat comes, so you’ll need to replenish it. 
  • For a nicer presentation, you can place your watertight container into a bigger, decorative pot and fill it with water until it meets the top of your watertight container.

Depending on the lotus you choose, they will bloom from June to September. You can expect around 10 blooms from each tuber during the season. When winter rolls around, your tuber will become dormant until warm weather returns. During mild winters, you can leave your potted tuber outside and filled with water until summer comes back around. For harsh winters, we recommend that you store your pot indoors to protect it from ice and cold temperatures. Remember to keep it filled with water!

There are many lotus varieties to choose from to help brighten up your home garden this summer. We encourage you to stop by the Garden to see the beautiful, blooming sacred lotus in Sydnor Lake to help inspire your home garden. If you can’t make it to the Garden this summer, enjoy this time-lapse video of our sacred lotus blooming in Sydnor Lake.

Sierra Lasher is a public relations and marketing intern at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. She is excited to connect with lovers of the Garden and encourage new people to visit! Sierra is currently studying Communication at George Mason University. Sierra believes this internship will be a fun experience and an excellent start to her career.

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