Growing lotus

The lovely lotus is a water plant belonging to the family Nelumbonaceae.


There are two species: Nelumbo nucifera, the Sacred lotus; Nelumbo lutea, the Yellow Lotus. All lotus breeds are hybrids between these two points, with the indigenous Australian lotus belonging to the Nucifera group.


They have green disc-shaped leaves that sprout from towering, erect stems well above the water surface. The flowers, not to be outdone by the leaves, are large and deeply saturated with a diversity of colours from true, white, cream, pink, golden, or red. Like the water lily, the hottest months are when it flowers. After flowering, the curious central seed head grows into a chocolate-brown pod resembling a strainer-style shower head. With winter comes deciduous dormancy for the fascinating flora.


Beautiful young flower
Macro yellow carpel of purple Lotus flower

Can I eat it?

For most of the plant, yes. The leaves can be preserved and used as a wrap for sticky rice or to make green tea. The seeds are eaten raw, formed into a paste, or even seasoned and sold in a ‘potato crisp’ packet. And the tubers are stewed, steamed, and even made into ‘Lotus root chips’ by cutting up and then deep-frying.

Preparing The Lotus

If you use mail order or get a lotus plant with bare roots, there should be a tuber section or two and at least one or more growing tips at their ends. Unwrap the tuber gently and handle it with great care for the rest of the procedure since the relevant growing tips are fragile. Once you get these, get a container of clean water and keep them in there for a week or a fortnight in a warm area until you see bristly white root growing on your tubers at its nodes. To keep the plant underwater for this period, it is a good idea to use some weights.


After spotting the growth, it is time to prepare their permanent home. Line the container of your choosing with a layer of around 10 centimetres of lightly fertilised soil. Plant the plant such that the dirt layer covers the tuber while the shoots will shoot off above the water. Ensure its anchorage by adding a stone or two or an equivalent weight to avoid it floating aimlessly. Pour in sanitary water until the container or pot is full. Since these florae require warmth and sunshine, choose a pretty sunny spot with some form of wind guard.

Preparing The Media

Lotus prefer soil on the silty side, at least ten centimetres deep, with 10cm of water over it. To beautifully bloom, they require a lot of room. We recommend a minimum of a one-metre-square pond, 40-50 centimetres dedicated solely to the lotus. However, you can grow your lotus in far smaller spaces if you’re willing to take a more hands-on approach. A large lotus will spread rapidly and grow in waters up to 2m deep, so take care where you plant them.

Re-potting The Lotus

For the growth of healthy leaves and flowers, the lotus must be repotted and thinned on a cycle of 2-3 years. When repotting, you should find a heap of old, lifeless, blackened material fit or discarding. Towards the bottom of the pot, you’ll find a firm, thick, white tuberous material that forms the healthy new plant substance you will want to replant. Select sturdy and solid tubers with undamaged shoots and repeat the process described in the ‘Preparing The Lotus’ section.

Feeding The Lotus

When a few leaves start to sprout on the surface of the water – AKA coin leaves – the time has come to commence feeding. Start with a small amount of fertiliser mix added directly into the water or at the root zones at the stem’s base. You can do it quite easily if you mix organic fertiliser paste, which helps sink it to the root level, allowing quicker usage by the plant.


Continue adding these small amounts every two weeks. Increase the frequency in correlation to the growth rate of the lotus. A golden rule is that bigger things require bigger meals, so grow the feed as the plant grows. Stop adding the fertiliser as soon as the plant stops producing new strong leaves during its dormancy phase, which begins in autumn and is back to a bulb by winter.

Preparing The Fertiliser

In a container, mix up in equal amounts, crumbled dynamic lifter or an equivalent and ‘blood and bone’. Store that mixture in a dry place to use during the feeding seasons as needed. For specifics, each bi-weekly or fortnightly feeding session in a 33cm bucket should average around a dessert spoon of the fertiliser mix added to the container/pond of a single lotus. Lessen the feed at the early budding stages since the leaves are small and increase when the lotus grows a bit bigger.


Over an entire budding and blooming season, a conventional cupful of this mixture should be ample for a single plant in a thirty-three-centimetre pot.


Other fertilisers are available, but you should gauge how ‘strong’ they are beforehand. If it is more nutritious than the mix that we recommend, then lessen the dose, and if less, then increase. It is positively fine to use different fertilisers. A varied blend over the season may even be preferable to a monotonous mixture.


The larger the pond, container or any other water body requires expanded doses of fertiliser, in correlation to the increase in water volume and the overall mass of growing plant matter. I.e., more water, more mix, more plants, more mix.

Beautiful tropical lily pads in a pond
Pink lotus in pond
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