Potting And Caring For Your Lotus

Your lotus will be packed in damp paper in a plastic bag with an identifying label. Unpack it as soon as possible after arrival. Lotus tubers are very brittle and fragile, especially around the growing points (the 'joints' where the shoots emerge). If the tuber snaps in two it will usually survive but will grow less well. However, if it snaps again it will usually die, so please unwrap and handle your lotus with great care at all times.

The lotus should ideally be planted up immediately. If you can't do this, place it in a container of water, large enough to fully accommodate it, in a cool but frost-free place, until you are able to pot it up. If possible protect the tuber from animals with some sort of wrapping or cover – lotuses are edible and rodents, and even some birds, may eat them while they are floating in the water waiting to be potted.

The lotus tuber should be planted in a round container, as the growing points may be damaged by growing into corners. Do not use an open mesh basket such as a traditional aquatic basket, as the growing points will get stuck in the holes in this - use a solid container. The growing container needs to be large - we recommend something 45 - 90cm (18 - 36 inches) in diameter and at least 15cm (6 inches) deep. Black containers are best, as these absorb sunlight and warm up the plants more quickly. Because of these requirements, many people choose to plant their lotuses straight into very large round water-tight pots which in effect become a small pond in their own right. This also enables you to pick the exact perfect spot in the garden for them and, particularly if you are in a cooler location, means they will warm up more during the day than if they were in a traditional pond. When positioning the container, remember that the lotus needs as much heat and sun as possible.

Plant the lotus tuber in heavy clay loam or, if this is not available, shop-bought aquatic soil. Place the tuber itself horizontally on the surface of the soil, with any shoots in an approximately upward position. Then add an inch or so of soil over it - enough soil to fully cover the whitish tuber but not the shoots, so that when you add the water the tuber won't float, but will be held by the soil. Do not use a layer of gravel over the plant, as this will make it more difficult for shoots to come up. Then put 5cm (2 inches) of water over the soil – no more than this as the plants need as much sun and warmth as possible in order to put on sufficient growth to make tubers for next year. If the tuber floats up when you add the water, try to gently wriggle it back into the soil and add a little more soil over it until it is deep enough not to float. When you see the first proper emergent leaves, carefully push the supplied fertiliser tablets into the soil just below the main growing points.

As the plant grows, it will help it if you remove any duckweed or thick blanketweed that grows around it, or basically anything that absorbs the sun's light and heat instead of that light and heat getting to the soil and the shoots. Trim off any dead leaves with scissors to just above the water surface. Flowers appear July to September, depending on how warm a summer we get (in a cool summer the plant may not flower at all; in a hot summer it will flower more). During the winter leave the tuber where it is and it will be fine. It does not need protection from frost nor to come into a greenhouse or garage. Don't bring it indoors either, as it is not good for it to be too warm over winter.

Like any potted plant the lotus will benefit from being re-potted every couple of years. Contact us for advice about how to do this.