75° and 87°F ( 24° and 31°C) is perfect.
Large aquarium heaters in smaller ponds
where feasible can help in this regard.
Splashing water and currents will cause
growth issues, so only provide still waters
for these beauties.
Fertilizers are another must for lotuses.
They are very heavy feeders, and I find
it something to ponder that these large,
fragrant beauties grow from only the most
silty and muddy pond soils, though to be
fair, these are rich soils. In the absence of
nurturing pond soils full of enriched mud
and silt, suitable pond fertilizers will be a
fine substitute. It is best to apply fertilizer
only when lotuses are actively growing, not
when flowering and dormant.
Planting and Growth Care
Long tubers are at the root (pardon the
pun) of lotus growth. These are fragile,
and the growing tip, also called the eye, is
the most precious area. Often, lotuses will
fail to grow or to grow well if the tips are
damaged, so handle them with care. Tubers
must also be kept warm to grow properly
and can be prone to rot or delayed rooting
and growth if kept too cold while they are
One trick is to keep the tuber in a pot
near the surface to acclimatize it and help
it begin producing roots before lowering it
deeper into the pond. When planting, prune
any old or rotting root mass from the tuber,
rest the tuber on the soil surface with the
growing tip pointing upward at an angle,
and backfill a small amount. Burying the
tuber will cause it to rot. Hold the tuber in
position by gently placing stones against
it to weigh it down. For pond depth, most
lotuses will require 2 to 4 feet ( 61 to 122
cm). Mature plants can eventually grow in
water up to 18 feet ( 5. 5 meters) deep or
more. For a dwarf lotus, it is suitable to start
with a water depth of 2 feet ( 61 cm).
Roots will begin to form from a newly
planted tuber in a few weeks, depending on
conditions. Warm waters will speed up the
process. When roots have begun developing,
the tuber can be lowered to a depth of 6 to
12 inches ( 15 to 30 cm) and lowered again
after leaves have emerged. This will happen
slowly, over several weeks, when newly
planted. Once leaves are seen, it is time
to gradually add fertilizer, increasing the
amount as leaves multiply and grow larger.
It is best not to begin fertilizing lotuses
until several leaves appear, as it is easy
to burn young shoots. When actively
growing, they will be very hungry, so
aim to fertilize roughly every three to
four weeks, and reduce feedings during
flowering so the plants can fully use up
available stores before slowing down for
winter. In more tropical environments,
reduced feedings can continue while they
are out of flower and still growing. As with
water lilies, the first leaves float, but later,
larger leaves will emerge and stand up on
long, erect stalks that lift the leaves many
inches above the surface.
Most lotuses will not flower until their
second spring/summer, though others
certainly will under optimal conditions.
For successful flowering, a lotus needs
approximately one month of temperatures
above 80°F ( 27°C), and it will bloom
during daylight hours for approximately
The remaining seedpod will continue
to grow, turning green, then browning off
and dropping away, releasing mature seeds
into the water. These can also be collected
and sprouted in warm, shallow water of
2 feet ( 61 cm) or less. The seed pods of
lotuses are also excellent for bouquets.
Any fully yellow or decaying leaves can
also be removed, though wait until they
are well decayed and decomposing before
pruning—cutting growing green stems can
sometimes harm the tuber, so let the stem
die back a bit first.
Pink sacred lotuses (Nelumbo nucifera) in bloom.