The lotus plant is a beautiful pond-dwelling plant with large round leaves that float upon the water and delicate pale pink blooms with layers of petals.
Lotus plants can be easy to grow, but do you always need soil to grow them? Keep reading to find out.
What Does it Take to Grow a Lotus?
A lotus is relatively easy to grow, given that it has everything it needs. Those needs are sun, heat, nutrients, and water.
That being said, it is technically possible to grow a lotus plant without soil, even if it isn’t recommended.
The recommended way to grow a lotus is to start with either a tuber or a sprouted seed.
The root system of a lotus plant is called a tuber. It is thick and woody in appearance, often with several small offshoots.
If you are using a tuber, it will need to be soaked for a couple of days before being planted, which will help to bring it back to life.
Alternatively, if you decide to use seeds, you will need to crack the seed coat first. You can do this with a gentle tap of a hammer or by filing down the seed coat until you see the white seed beneath.
You can now plant the new lotus, whether you started with a tuber or a seed.
Read How To Propagate Lotus Plants?
How to Plant A Lotus (With Soil)
- Normally, you find a deep container that can accommodate a few inches of soil along with at least a couple of inches of water over the top.
- Begin by filling your container with about two inches of clay-based soil. You can mix the soil with about 10% compost if you desire.
- Place your tuber or seedling on the clay soil.
- Add more clay soil until the tuber or the seedling roots have been covered.
- Add a thin layer of pea gravel over the soil. This layer will help hold down the lotus roots from escaping the soil and floating to the surface.
- Fill the remainder of the pot with warm water.
Check How to Plant Lotus Bulb in North Florida
Can You Plant a Lotus Without Soil?
As mentioned before, the technical answer is yes. But there is a little more to it.
The soil used to plant a lotus plays a critical role in its health and development.
Heavy clay soil can sit at the bottom of a container, much like the bottom of a pond, and hold the tuber down at the bottom.
This is also why the addition of pea gravel is so crucial. The additional weight will keep the tuber or seedling from floating up to the surface.
Soil, especially if you mix in compost, also adds some organic material to the container that supplies nutrients to the lotus plant.
If you don’t have soil in your container, you will need to adjust your fertilizer regimen to ensure that your lotus receives the required nutrients.
Additionally, you will need to use something to weigh down the tuber from floating. When growing a lotus, the tuber needs to remain at the bottom of the container, or it will not grow properly.
If you don’t want to use soil, you will still need to use some form of substrate to hold down the tuber. A few options are fine gravel or stones.
As you need to add some form of substrate anyway, it may be preferable to simply use soil for growing your lotus plant.
Not only will soil help deliver nutrients to your lotus, but it will also weigh your lotus down within the container.
If you still want to go a soil-less route, you need to use stones to weigh down the lotus.
On the bright side, if you don’t want to use soil, perhaps you could plant your lotus in a glass container using decorative stones. Just remember to use enough fertilizer to account for the lack of organic matter.
Another option would be to make a specific container that can hold the tuber down.
Read Are Lotus Flowers Poisonous to Dogs?
What Are Hydroponics?
The word hydroponics comes from the combination of two Greek words. These are hydros (water) and ponos (working).
Hydroponics is a way of growing plants that use no soil. Plants only need three things to grow, sun, nutrients, and water.
While the soil helps deliver nutrients and water to plants, it is not a necessary component in growing plants.
Many farms around the world grow crops completely hydroponically. Some plants do better than others with this growing system.
Leafy greens and herbs, for example, do great in hydroponic systems. The lotus faces its problems as the root system needs some way to be held down in the water.
Read How To Plant Lotus Bonsai Hydroponic
In the world of hydroponics, there are four main types of systems.
The systems are; wick system, ebb and flow, water culture, and drip system recovery.
The wick system is one of the simplest forms of hydroponics.
This system includes suspending the growing plant in a substrate near a reservoir of nutrient water.
There is a wick that stretches between the plant and the nutrient solution from each plant to passively feed the plant water via the wick uptake.
Ebb and Flow
This hydroponic system requires a little more setup as it needs a tray and a pump system. It usually needs a timer as well.
With this type of system, the area in which your plants are kept (often a large deep tray) is flooded with nutrient water.
The flooding occurs via a pump. This pump is usually set up at a time so that regular flooding occurs.
After the flood, the pump turns off, and the water is free to drain away.
This is another very simple version of hydroponics.
In this type, the plant is floating in a net pot over a reservoir of nutrient water.
This water is just standing water. It is often oxygenated in normal circumstances.
This is the type of hydroponics that you would be using for lotus plants.
The only difference is instead of the tuber being suspended in a net pot. It would need to be held at the bottom of the water somehow.
As lotus plants prefer standing water in the best situation, they may not prefer oxygenated water.
Read Why Are My Lotus Leaves Turning Yellow?
Drip System Recovery
This is the type of hydroponics most often used in vertical farming situations. Home gardeners can also make a drip system with PVC pipe.
In this, a system of pipes has holes in them to hold the plants. Nutrient water is then pumped through the pipe system.
In this, the water is always moving across the plant’s roots.
Read 15 Awesome House plants with red and green leaves
Why Use Hydroponics?
If hydroponics have been shown to be bad for lotus plants, why would you use it?
Hydroponics is an excellent option for those who want to grow plants faster.
The nutrients in the water are highly controlled, meaning you have a better chance of experiencing blooms if done correctly.
If you are growing from seed, you also have a better chance of reaching a mature plant faster.
There is also no organic matter in the container (compost). Thanks to this, there is less chance of your container growing plant diseases or attracting pests.
All of these benefits make hydroponics an excellent option if you plan to propagate your lotus.
There are more available seeds with more flowers, and a faster growth rate will see more rhizomes available for harvest during the dormant season.
On that note, the rhizomes will also be easier to harvest as you won’t need to dig through heavy clay soil to reach them.
Lastly, hydroponics can make a stunning display with a glass container or aquarium and decorative rocks.
Check out, How Does a Lotus Plant Adapt Itself in Water
Why You Shouldn’t Use hydroponics
Hydroponics is not for the beginner plant parent.
While sprouting seeds in a glass of water are easy enough, growing full plants does take some research.
One of the main issues you’ll experience is ensuring that the nutrient water has the correct level of nutrients.
If the water is too full of nutrients, you will risk burning your lotus plant. This issue is particularly true of young plants that are not acclimatized to nutrient exposure yet.
As lotus plants require a growing season and a dormant season to grow up healthy, you will also need to adjust your nutrient supply to consider the changing seasons.
During the dormant season (winter), your lotus will take up fewer nutrients. At this time, you will need to adjust your nutrient supply to have less.
Meanwhile, during the growing season (summer), your lotus will be eating up plenty of nutrients to grow new flowers and leaves.
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While you can grow a lotus plant without soil, it’s not recommended for beginners.
If you want to try growing a lotus hydroponically, it is suggested to get comfortable growing a lotus with soil first. Once you have mastered that, you can begin venturing into the world of hydroponic growing.
I’m Elsa, and I love gardening. I started GardeningElsa.com as a resource for other gardeners, and I offer expert advice on gardening topics such as plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetable gardening. On my website, I share my latest tips and tricks for creating beautiful gardens. When I’m not working on my website, you can find me in my own garden, tending to my plants and flowers. Read more about me.