The lotus (Nelumbo) flower–revered the world over–is symbolic in ancient texts and modern gardens.
A cousin to the water lily (Nymphea) and typically associated with tropical climates, the lotus grows successfully in gardening zone 5-10.
It only takes a bit of ingenuity to grow a stunning lotus specimen in Northern Florida, USA. Anyone with some know-how and dedication can grow lotus in a pond or an indoor container.
What Is a Lotus Plant?
The first thing a lotus plant is not is a blub. A lotus grows from rhizomes, which are similar to tubers and bulbs. They grow underground and act as the plant’s organs.
However, when researching lotus, the term most frequently used is tubers.
Tubers and rhizomes store the necessary elements (carbohydrates and proteins) to make the plant grow and blossom and follow its lifecycle.
Read How To Plant Lotus Bonsai Hydroponic
Difference between tubers, bulbs, and rhizomes:
- Tubers grow in any direction
- Rhizomes grow horizontally
- Bulbs grow vertically
- Tubers have nodes or eyes (think potato)
- Rhizomes sprout roots
- Bulbs are regular globe shape while tubers and rhizomes are not uniform
A lotus is a rhizome, and depending on the type, can grow 5-6 feet tall in a natural environment. Containers help curb invasive growth.
Types of Lotus Flowers
A lotus is an aquatic plant and thrives naturally on floodplains, river deltas, and tranquil river beds in Asia, Australia, India, and garden pots and ponds.
Although water lilies and lotus blossoms share a similar appearance, a water lily consists of thicker waxier leaves upon closer examination.
A lotus blossom is delicate and papery and often replicated in Asian traditions with Origami versions. Lotus is symbolic of enlightenment, purity, and rebirth.
A lotus flower releases hundreds of seeds into the body of water. While some may sprout immediately, others lie dormant until conditions allow it to grow.
Wildlife consumes many of the seeds.
The oldest lotus seed on record dates to 1300 years ago, deposited in a lakebed in northeastern China.
Lotus plants are classified into rhizome lotus, flower lotus, and seed lotus.
Gardeners and spiritually motivated persons find the beauty of the flower mentally stimulating. Asian cultures have high regard for the plants’ culinary and dietary purposes.
Native to Asia and Australia, these floating aquatic plants capture the hearts of admirers the world over with 36 stunning varieties.
Read How to Take Care of Lotus Plant at Home
Top Ten Lotus For Home Gardens
- American Lotus is the poster child for lotus flowers, also called Water Chinquapin.
- Angel Wing Lotus is a delicate petals flower ideal for shallow water.
- Green Maiden Lotus is a chameleon and changes color from pink to yellow and cream.
- Curious Lotus produces two heads and grows through roots; not seeds.
- Golden Wheel Lotus blooms, while unfolding 20 petals, and easily propagates.
- Clear Moon Lotus is common in Asia and produces pristine white petals and tall leaves.
- Blue Star Lotus blossoms with a variety of colors: lilac, mauve, white, Fuschia, and purple.
- Cherry Lotus has a purplish red flower that transforms into an exquisite shade of pink.
- Sunflower lotus is aptly named and thrives in sunny locations but tolerates cooler temperatures.
- Asiatic Lotus produces striking flowers almost year-round with unique petal green & pink flowers.
Choosing the correct lotus to plant in Northern Florida takes a keen understanding of your gardening skills, the location, and the essentials of this enlightening flower.
While Northern Florida experiences annual frost, these perennials will thrive if given the proper care. It is the sunshine state.
Read Are Lotus Flowers Poisonous to Dogs?
The Necessities For Growing Lotus
Once you decide which lotus variety captures your fancy, consider the size of the mature plant. Well-adapted lotus types can reach lengths of up to 5-6 feet. So, a garden pot may not suffice.
Here are some factors to consider when growing lotus:
- Rhizome (tubers) or seeds
- Appropriate size container
- Soil (prepared)
- Water (de-chlorinated)
- Sunlight and shelter
- Water feature
To decide if you are going with seeds or rhizomes, shop here to give you ideas, color schemes, and costs.
Soil Conditions and Requirements
Lotus flowers are aquatic, and Buddhists believe that a human, despite their environment, can aspire to grow into a beautiful being like a lotus flower.
A lotus plant needs few ingredients to reward us with its captivating beauty.
If you don’t have access to clay or topsoil, consider purchasing pond plant soil. A perfect soil blend is 80% clay or topsoil and 20% compost material (blended well before adding water).
River sand is also a great alternative to add to the mix: 40% river sand and 60% clay.
Avoid garden soil or peat moss because the murky water may cause your lotus plant to rot due to a lack of light penetrating the water. Fertilize with caution and follow instructions.
Sunlight is a crucial element to produce lotus flowers. While many varieties can be grown in suitable containers indoors, they require optimum sunshine (south and west facing) between 6-8 hours minimum.
Read What Layer of Soil Is Best for Growing Plants
Containers and Size
Lotus plants come in various sizes, and it’s even possible to grow lotus in a bowl for indoor enjoyment.
These varieties are called dwarf, teacup, or micro lotus. These miniatures survive in as little as 2-4 inches of water (above the root).
Ideal indoor containers are watertight and are often made from plastic, ceramic, or wood containers lined with plastic.
However, consider using a ceramic container for an aesthetic appeal and environmental impact.
Regardless of what type of container appeals to you, make sure it can hold water and the size of the mature plant fits within the vessel.
For water feature lotus, it’s equally important to choose a container without holes as the lotus roots may slip through any cracks. Your lotus will not be as productive.
Sunshine and standing water are essential ingredients to produce breathtaking lotus blossoms.
Because lotus plants require sunshine year-round, ensure that your water level stays consistent. Lotus plants can tolerate a drop in temperature and will acclimatize.
Read Can plants kill you at night?
Over Wintering in Northern Florida
One of the essential tips for wintering your lotus is to allow the plant to wilt as nature intended. Wilting drives essential nutrients into the rhizome that the plant needs in its dormant stage.
Once the leaves have withered, it’s okay to trim to the water line but not below.
For extra precaution, it’s wise to cover the pond with plastic. Be careful that the plastic doesn’t touch the plant. An inexpensive frame constructed from PVC tubes works well.
Read How To Propagate Lotus Plants?
Planting from Rhizomes (Tubers)
Although lotus plants produce rhizomes, many gardening and how-to sites refer to tubers.
Purchase your rhizomes early in spring online or from your local nursery before the plants wake from their dormant state.
- Unpack plant material and set rhizomes into warm water 75-82°F in sunlight but avoid direct light (these plants just woke from their dormancy).
- If you’re planting them into a pond, use it as your water source but make sure it’s warm enough.
- Ensure water stays clear, changing as needed (every 3-7 days) before planting.
- Round containers prevent root entrapment.
- Deep containers prevent root spillage and plant encroachment in ponds.
- Fill the container with soil mixture leaving 3-4 inches from the rim.
- Handle tubers carefully and place sprouts on tuber facing upward, roots downward.
- Pack dirt over tuber to hold it in place (with small rock), but don’t submerge.
- Fill with warm water (to almost cover).
- Set in a warm sunny location.
- Fertilize only once leaves sprout fully.
Watch this miniature how-to-video for a tutorial. Lotus plants will contain themselves to the size of the pot if they don’t have access to leave their pot.
Read How to turn Bad Soil into Good Soil
Planting from Seeds
If you want to grow your lotus from seed, some experts recommend filing (metal rasp) the seed enough to scrape down to its core (cream color).
But be careful not to damage the core. (Use a knife or scrape against a rough surface like concrete.)
- Allow the seed to soak in warm water (75-80° F) for a day until the seed sinks (Non-sinkers are infertile.) Seeds will double in size.
- Use a container, like a bowl, so you can see the seed sprout.
- Change water daily once seeds sprouted (4-5 days), but handle these delicate seedlings with care.
- Once seedlings are at least 6 inches long, they’re ready to transplant (fragile).
- If you wait until eaves have formed, more care is required to prevent damage and keep leaves free of soil.
- Choose your container and add 2 parts clay, 1 part river sand or store-bought aquatic mix.
- Gently plant seedlings into the soil, roughly 4 inches apart.
- Although you don’t plant them deeply like you would a garden seedling, you want to anchor them enough to prevent them from floating to the top.
- Submerse container in pond or water feature
This tutorial gives you an in-depth look at the different stages from seed to first sprouting to transplanting and is ideal for the beginning gardener.
Read How to Add Calcium to Soil?
Maintaining A Lotus Water Garden
Fertilizing a lotus is beneficial, but caution is advised if done with new tubers, or you may destroy your hard efforts. Using only half a dose of fertilizer tabs for first feeding is a good starting point.
Following the lotus seed or rhizome supplier’s direction is key to growing healthy flower-producing lotus flowers that will be the focal point of your garden.
Read Why My Lotus Plant Is Not Flowering?
FAQs Plant Lotus Bulb in North Florida
Can you grow lotus root in Florida?
Yes, you can grow lotus root in Florida. The warm weather and ample moisture make it a perfect place for this plant to thrive. You’ll need to start with a tuber or rhizome, which you can purchase from a nursery or online retailer. Plant the tuber in a large container filled with rich, well-draining soil. Place the container in full sun and water regularly. With proper care, your lotus root plant will produce beautiful flowers and delicious roots that you can enjoy fresh or cooked.
How do you grow lotus in Florida?
Lotus plants can be grown from seeds or from cuttings. Seeds should be planted in a pot or container filled with nutrient-rich soil, and the container should be kept in a sunny location. Cuttings can be taken from an existing lotus plant, and they should be placed in a pot of water until they establish roots. The pot of water should then be transferred to a sunny location.
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- What Kind of Soil Is Best for a Lotus?
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.