The lotus plant, also known as the sacred lotus or Indian lotus, is a water-dwelling plant known for its large round leaves and flowers that feature layers of pale pink petals. These plants are an image of serenity and peace and are a beautiful addition to any pond.
Have you wanted to grow a lotus in the comfort of your very own home? You may be surprised to hear that it is possible, and we’re here to tell you how.
Can You Grow a Lotus Plant in a Container?
When you think of the lotus plant, you may imagine a pristine, calm pond covered in delicate pink blooms and wide green leaves.
While lotus plants are most known for growing in still ponds, they need not always grow in exotic, tropical waters. A large plant container works perfectly fine in the right situation.
When you’re shopping for a plant container for your lotus, the main thing you need to remember is that lotus plants need standing water to grow in. That being said, you’ll want a non-draining container.
Thanks to the wide leaves and flowers of the lotus plant, you will also want your container to be of a substantial size. Starting out, you will want a pot at least 12 inches in diameter and at least 8 inches deep.
The idea is that you want a pot not only wide enough to accommodate the lotus but also deep enough to accommodate a couple of inches of soil and a few inches of water.
As the size of this pot and the amount of water will make the container heavy and generally difficult to move, it may be a good idea to place it where you plan to keep your lotus before you fill it.
As lotus plants require plenty of sunlight, we recommend a spot near a sunny, south-facing window.
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Planting Your Lotus
There are two ways you can start your lotus plant, either by a tuber or a seed.
A tuber is what the root of a lotus plant is called. It is a thick root that is almost woody in appearance and will generally have several smaller offshoots.
Lotus seeds are about the size of a large blueberry. These seeds are round with a hard outer shell. In some places, lotus seeds are even enjoyed as food.
The process to grow a lotus from seed is a little more involved than growing the plant from a tuber. We will cover both methods, so you can be confident regardless of the method you choose.
If you purchase a lotus tuber, you will only need to follow the instructions to plant a lotus from a tuber.
If you plan to use lotus seeds, you will first need to follow the instructions on germinating a lotus seed before proceeding to plant the new tuber.
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Planting a Tuber
- When you first receive your tuber, it may need a little attention before being planted. To start, soak your tuber in warm water until you begin to see new growth. This step may take up to two weeks.
- Prepare your container. You will need a non-draining container large enough to accommodate the lotus plant, soil, and water.
- Add 2-3 inches of clay-based soil to your container. It must be clay soil, as regularly potting soil will float when you add the water.
- Place your tuber on the soil you’ve prepared. This is a time to be very careful as the new growth is delicate.
- Add more clay soil to your pot so that the tuber is completely buried with at least 1 inch of additional soil over the top.
- Add a layer of pea gravel over the soil. This layer can be thin, as it is primarily there to keep the tuber from escaping the soil and floating to the surface.
- Fill the pot the rest of the way with warm water.
- If you haven’t already, place your pot in a sunny place. A bright, south-facing window is a good option.
- Check the water in the pot every day. A lotus plant needs to be completely submerged in water to grow properly.
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Growing From Seed
- Use a file to gently scrape away some of the seed casing until you begin to see some of the white seeds within. Alternatively, you can use a hammer to gently crack the seeds. You don’t want to remove the seed coat. Only create a small crack that will allow water to penetrate.
- Place seeds in water.
- Change the water every day.
- After a few days, you should begin to see the seedlings emerging.
- Continue changing the water daily as the seedlings grow.
- After 2 to 4 weeks, the seedlings should have produced their first leaves.
- Once your seeds have started growing roots, they are ready to be transplanted into their pots.
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Lotus plants require heavy soil, the kind that you would typically find at the bottom of a pond. For this, you can purchase soil that is specifically for pond plants.
If this type of soil isn’t available to you, you can use heavy topsoil or clay. You don’t want to use anything with too much organic matter, like peat moss.
If you want to use compost, then mix 20% compost into 80% clay.
Lotus plants require plenty of sunlight to thrive. They will need at least six hours of direct sunlight to grow well, but eight is preferable.
If you live somewhere that doesn’t get enough sun, you can supplement with a grow light.
Lotus plants are from a warm climate and require warmer temperatures to thrive. Your lotus will require a temperature of about 75 degrees F for at least three months.
While you may not want to keep your house at this temperature, you could put your lotus outside for the summer months if you live in a warm enough climate.
If that’s not possible, you could supply supplemental heat with a heat lamp, heat mat, or by adding warm water to your container daily.
After those three months, you are free to allow your lotus to transition into the “winter” months. Your lotus will not need to maintain this warmer temperature during this time.
You won’t need to fertilize your lotus plant when first starting out.
It is recommended to wait until your lotus has already established several good floating leaves and at least one aerial leaf before you start fertilizing.
When you can start fertilization, a 20-10-20 fertilizer is the recommended variety. For your first application of fertilizer, use only a half dose.
As you continue to fertilize your lotus, slowly increase the dosage until you reach the full amount.
You should only fertilize during the growing season, applying every 20 days.
You should stop fertilizing your lotus in late July. This will give the roots plenty of time to absorb any leftover fertilizer before the beginning of the dormant season.
Alternatively, you can use a slow-release fertilizer tablet.
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How to Encourage More Blooms
The highlight of the lotus plant is its stunning pale pink blooms. You likely want to see as many flowers as possible during the growing season.
To do this, first make sure that your lotus is exposed to enough sunlight. It will need at least 6 hours of sun a day to encourage flowers.
Lotus plants also do best in warm temperatures. Always use warm water when watering your lotus, and if needed, use a supplemental heating source.
Lastly, fertilize your lotus according to schedule during the growing season and stop well before the dormant season.
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How to Propagate a Lotus Plant
There are two main ways to propagate the lotus plant. You can either propagate the rhizomes or harvest and plant the seeds.
During the dormant season, you can harvest rhizomes from the lotus tuber. These are horizontal offshoots from the root. Plant a harvested rhizome in the soil so that the meristem is just below the soil surface.
As we mentioned in a previous section, the seeds can be used to grow new lotus plants. These seeds can be harvested from the lotus plant.
After harvesting, you will need to either gently crack the seeds with a hammer or file down the seed coat.
Once the seed coat is cracked, place the seeds in water. Any seeds that float can be discarded. The remaining seeds should sprout within a few days.
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Where to Buy Lotus Plants
The main places where you can buy lotus plants are plant nurseries that offer pond plants. Online nurseries are also an option.
Outside of nurseries, lotus tubers and seeds can often be found in online marketplaces such as Etsy and eBay.
While lotus seeds can be found in some markets as a food product, you should not buy these seeds in hopes of growing them. These seeds usually have the inner germ removed, meaning that they would never grow into a lotus plant.
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