Although the lotus originated in Egypt, it is a beautiful, symbolic flower that has grown in popularity in the United States.
Do you imagine a vivid pink blossom floating along the surface of the water amid the leaves? Well, there is much more to growing a lotus than simply dropping a plant in a pond.
Rather than let nature take its course, read on to find out what the best kind of soil for lotus is.
What Soil Options Are Best
The best soil to plant a lotus in is clay. Still, there are many other options to choose from.
To start, you need to decide what the basis of your soil will be. Only then do you get to start thinking about what to fertilize your lotus with (or how much to use).
The gardening aisle in any given store will have a lot of bags and labels competing for your attention, and every option has its ups and downs.
Fortunately for you and your aquatic plants, there are a few correct answers to help guide you in your choice.
Read How to turn Bad Soil into Good Soil
Clay Garden Soil
Although clay is usually not recommended for just any plant, aquatic plants thrive in it. This is because clay is slow to let the water go, and most roots find it hard to push through the thick substance.
Since your lotus is going to be growing from the bottom of a small body of water, drainage will not be a concern.
Compared to most other soils, clay warms up slowly. Again, under up to 18 inches of water, your soil is likely to be slow to warm no matter what you opt to use.
What makes clay challenging for most plants makes it ideal for aquatic ones! The thickness of the clay that locks in water will also keep it settled at the bottom of your pond.
Additionally, this tendency to resist drainage makes clay an ideal place to anchor the nutrients that plants crave!
One major drawback that does affect the lotus is how thick clay soil can be, particularly when it is wet. This can make it more difficult for the roots to spread.
Speaking of clay, one surprising advantage of having aquatic plants is that they can often benefit from cat litter! An unscented litter with ‘calcified clay’ on the bag contains the same nutrients as marketed clay soi.
Once it has gotten wet, it will be nearly indistinguishable at a glance. This makes it great for gardening on a budget.
Read Difference between potting soil and garden soil
Sandy Garden Soil
Much like clay, sand is heavy and will settle along the bottom of your pond. The two advantages that sand has over clay are heat and density.
Sandy soil will warm up far faster in the spring. The soil will have to warm up eventually. Fortunately, as the lotus is a perennial, it is more than capable of surviving its off seasons to bloom again come spring.
However, experts recommend temperatures of at least 70 degrees to encourage blooming.
Unfortunately, sand does not hold nutrients as clay does. However, the properties that cause it to become barren of nutrients come with specific advantages.
Namely, it allows you to create a more hospitable environment for the roots to spread out.
Although you can plant lotus in sand alone, it is best to avoid doing that if you want your plant to thrive.
Read What Layer of Soil Is Best for Growing Plants
Lotus has an easy time growing and can spread into any container you plant them in. Indeed, it can grow in gravel, but it will still find it a challenge to thrive. Why is gravel not an ideal bed?
Gravel will not hold fertilizer, and whatever nutrients find their way in will only be lost to the water as quickly as it came.
The main benefit of using gravel as a growth bed is that it is heavy. If you want to use it, a thin layer on top of the soil blend you choose can help prevent algae from growing and taking hold in your pond.
An overabundance of algae is bad for both flora and fauna.
Moreover, if you have put koi in your pond, rocks or gravel can help stop the fish from digging into your soil and devouring the lotus roots.
While koi can prove to be a danger to lotus if taken proper care of, they can have a healthy symbiotic relationship.
In particular, lotus leaves provide koi with much-needed shade, and their steps are covered in short spines that deter hungry koi from taking a bite.
Potting soil is what you do not want to use. It is soft and loamy, and though it is great for most other types of gardening, it does not mix well with an abundance of water.
Commercial gardening soil is not an option for a lotus, because it will float to the top of the water and often encourages algae growth.
The amount of organic material in most potting soils is incredibly high and prone to rotting in water. That rot will spread and likely damage the roots of your lotus.
There is a reason, after all, that most pots have holes drilled into the bottom for drainage!
Read How to Add Calcium to Soil?
A Mixture of Clay and Sand
You’ve seen the advantages and disadvantages of clay and sand, but to get the most out of each, the best thing to do is mix them.
A blend will offer the nutrients of clay, the warmth of the sand, and the weight of both.
The ideal home for a lotus is 80% clay and 20% sand, well blended. This offers the nutrients of clay without being as densely packed to allow the roots an easier time to spread out.
Most pre-packed aquatic soils will contain both clay and sand. This will save you from having to mix them yourself.
What’s more, since these companies specialize in such blends, you are likely to get a more efficient mixture than you would if you did it yourself the first time.
It is also possible to find these mixtures with extra nutrients already added, creating an even more welcoming environment for your lotus.
Read Best Soil for Growing Plants
Setting Up for Growth
Now that you have given some thought to what kind of soil you want to plant your lotus in, it is time to consider where this planting will be and how much of that soil to use.
What you will do next depends largely on what phase of life your lotus is in when you start.
If you are planting seedlings, choose a three or five-gallon bucket with no drainage holes. It should be filled up to the six-inch mark with your soil of choice.
You will be able to place the entire bucket into your pond and allow your lotus to grow from there.
While growing, your lotus should be kept warm. A temperature of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit is preferable.
When you place your plant, make sure it gets plenty of sunlight. The minimum amount to induce growth is six hours a day, though more sunlight will induce more flowers.
Amount of Soil
You should plant the lotus in 4-5 inches of whatever soil you have chosen. It should be sufficient to spread out but not so much that the leaves will not get buried trying to reach light.
If your lotus is already growing in a bucket or other container, you can place the container directly into the larger pond.
Lotus tends to spread out and take over whatever you plant it in. Given that, if you are using a natural pond, consider the effect lotus will have on species already living there.
A smaller container within the larger one can prevent this from happening and restrict the growth of the lotus.
If you like the idea of the entire surface of the water covered in leaves and flowers, feel free to remove the plant from its smaller container and allow it to grow freely in your pond.
When a lotus thrives, it loves to spread out.
Amount of Water
Depending on the kind of lotus you have, it can thrive anywhere between 2 and 18 inches of water above the soil surface. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with the kind of lotus you are growing and the growth environment it prefers.
This does not have a significant impact on the choice of soil you use, only in the amount of it.
Related plant articles:
- How to Improve Soil for Gardening
- Can You Grow Lotus Without Soil?
- How Does a Lotus Plant Adapt Itself in Water
- Are Lotus Flowers Poisonous to Dogs?
- How To Propagate Lotus Plants?
Lotus are beautiful and hardy plants that can survive conditions most others would wither in. It is easy to grow a lotus, but it takes a little care to make it thrive.
You can choose to use only clay, buy a prepackaged aquatic blend, mix the clay and sand yourself, or even try to make do with a bag of kitty litter.
Whatever your final decision, your lotus will become a striking addition to your garden with effort and diligence. Your next step is to get your clay and start planting.
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.