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How to Plant a Lotus

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A Lotus seems to be the plant that every water garden owner yearns for. They tend to be sun loving, dramatic plants that can be the exotic centerpiece of your water garden.

The species known as Nelumbo nucifer (AKA the “sacred lotus”) is native to The Philippines, Egypt, Australia, and the Orient. The Nelumbo lutea is a Native American Species. Both have many different varieties with varying sizes, colors, and bloom sizes.

They are a perennial plant that needs a sunny warm home. Lotuses like 5 to 6 hours of sunlight a day and a water temperature of between 75 to 87 degrees.


Most likely you will receive your lotus as a tuber. The tuber needs to be handled carefully. The tips of the tuber (or eyes) are where the leaves will grow. If the tips are broken off, there is a good chance that the tuber will not grow (sometimes they do grow another tip).

The tuber needs to be kept warm, about 75 degrees.

You will need to pick a pot to plant your tuber in and keep in mind that a lotus will grow to the size of the pot. Choose a deeper pot so that they are less likely to jump over the side and grow where you don’t want them.

This is how I like to plant my lotus:

  • Put a couple inches of sand in the bottom of your pot. Add a couple inches of top soil. The depth depends on the size of your pot.  Do not use potting soil. The light weight potting soil will float out of your container. The best is soil with clay in it.
  • Make a slight indentation for your tuber. Lay your tuber roots down and growing tips up.  The roots will expand as it takes root, pulling the tuber into place.
  • Lightly cover the tuber with more soil.  Do not push down on the dirt, like you do with other planting.  You might break the eyes off.
  • Slowly add water, not too much, you want wet mud.  No standing water on top of the mud.
  • Keep the planted tuber warm. If your house is too cool, a trick is to set the pot on a heating pad set on low.
  • Sunlight is not important until leaves appear.  When you spot the leaves lying flat on the dirt then make sure the pot is getting all the sunlight possible. (8 plus hours per day)
  • As the leaves start to grow, a few inches of water can be added.


When you are ready to move your lotus outside to your pond, the first thing is to make sure that your water temperature is at least 70 degrees.  Add more sand around the lotus, making sure the soil is covered before you submerge your pot into your pond.  Some people like to use gravel.  Others use kitty litter, but with all the additives, I don’t like to do that.


Your planted lotus should be located in a sunny spot in your pond, in relatively still water.  Your container should be 6 to 12 inches below the surface of the water.

Lotuses don’t start blooming as early in the season as water lilies. A lotus needs several weeks of hot weather to start blooming. Sometimes they won’t bloom until their second summer.

But when they do bloom…. WOW!  For me, they’re incredible.


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