July 18, 2013

The Sacred Lotus

The Sacred Lotus Flower

Lotus 'Chawan Basu'
photo courtesy of Bonniesplants

Lotus plant habit
photo courtesy of Auburn University

photo courtesy of Davesgarden.com

Lotus have been cultivated for thousands of years, but only recently have become popular again in the south. There are numerous varieties, and in a range of plant sizes, from the fabled dwarf "rice bowl" lotus to giants growing to 8 feet tall. In most cases, lotus need abundant sunlight, and a fairly large water volume to grow to their best potential. The plants will grow better and flower more freely when given abundant soil solume in which to grow their vigorously spreading rhizome. The ideal situation would be to grow lotus in a shallow pond or lake with a rich organic soil substrate.       

' Mrs. Perry D. Slocum'
photo courtesy of Davesgarden.com
Rhizomes of many varieties can be obtained via mail-order nurseries throughout the country. Given ample water and soil volumes with a source of controlled-release fertilizer specific to water plants, lotus can be a great addition to an aquatic garden. Given some periodic attention to removing dead flower stems, and with fresh water available to the plants at all times, lotus are grand plants, worth a trial in your garden. Auburn University produced an outstanding document on growing lotus, look for it at the Auburn University site under "Lotus Literature Review". It details the important methods and techniques needed to successfully grow lotus. This group of plants is yet another spectrum of plants to choose from in designing your garden. 

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens