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The true Lotus is a really BIG plant, but the little ones may really be just
teeny weeny babies. All Lotus are from the Genus Nelumbo, and all are hardy
IF the roots are not frozen. Both the seeds and the thick, rhizomaceous
roots are edible. They are fragrant, as are all parts of the plant.
Lotus is characterized by HUGE perfectly round leaves that stick up out of
the water as much as two or three feet, on very sturdy stems. The leaves are
attached to their stems (one leaf to a stem) at the center. In other words,
they look like dinner plates on sticks, the stick in the middle of the plate.
They have BIG, lovely, intensely fragrant flowers, most often of pink to
blue to yellow. Like water lilies, each flower lasts three days. The leaves
"repell" water, so drops of water on a leaf "bead up" and roll around. The
leaves are higher at the edge than at the middle, which makes them behave
quite comically in a rain! As enough rain fills the leaf to the "tipping
point," the leaf tips sideways, pouring the water down into the pond, or on
another leaf, and they kind of "tip" about as if drunk. The leaves are also
fragrant. The seed heads, and the center of the flowers, look like great big
upside down shower heads with big holes, each hole containing one seed.
Lotus are generally hardy all over, just as long as the roots themselves are
not frozen. They need LOTS of fertilizer, direct sun, and warm summer water
to bloom. They are tricky as heck to transplant - there is one growth point
at the end of each thickened root, and if that one is damaged, poof - it
dies. Get them early, as they sell out quickly for pond use. Handle them
with great care! I get best results planting them by weighing the root down
with a small flat rock, letting the rootlets dig themselves into the pond
bottom or soil in the pot. KEEP SNAILS AWAY FROM THEM! If a snail starts to
eat the growth point, the root dies. I have lost a LOT of lotus in the
transplanting process. You might as well purchase them from a place like
LilyPons, as they will replace your Lotus if it does not transplant
successfully. You lose a year, but you DO get another live root the next
The first leaves are often either underwater or just barely floating, and are
quite small. But, when the aerial leaves start, the Lotus is well underway.
I have had aerial leaves almost two feet in diameter in a good summer.
I strongly suspect the Lotus we get as an aquarium plant is just a smaller
species, or else is the tiny little plants you get from the seeds. Lotus
seeds, by the way, are HUGE!
When a "big" Lotus starts to put out surface leaves, it is starting its main
summer growth. If I had one in my aquarium doing that at this time of year,
I would remove it, plant it in a big pot, filled with pond muck, and sink the
pot in a tub of water close to a South facing window in a heated room. I
would sure like to see what an "Aquarium" Lotus ends up like when it "grows
I can't find any reference to a "dwarf lotus" in Hortus III, and at the
moment my New Britten and Brown reference books are misplaced and I could not
look Nelumbo up in that reference. But, Hortus III lists several species of
Lotus. It is a pretty old reference book, so there might be some "new"
species that just were not known when Hortus III was published.
This is probably a lot more about Lotus than anybody really wanted to know.
As you can tell, I am pretty fond of them!
Sorry to take up so much bandwidth. :-(