PLANTING THE LOTUS TUBER
Lotus like it HOT. Keeping your tuber warm will get your lotus off to a much faster start than planting it in your pond in May. Ideally, lotus like 4-10” of water over the diameter more ideal. Do not use square pots, as the tuber will encircle the pot, and may break in the sharp corners. Handle the tuber carefully. Breaking the growing tip is the death of that tuber. In your round pan, mix equal parts of heavy clay soil with good garden topsoil to a depth of 4-6”. Lay the tuber on top of the soil with the growing tip angled slightly upward. Hold the tuber down with a piece of flat rock until the roots anchor the tuber. Pour water up to the rim of the pot and leave the pot in a warm, sunny location. Change the water if it becomes smelly or full of algae.
The first few leaves of the lotus plant will be floating leaves. As the lotus grows, you can continue to add a few inches of soil, and cover the top of the soil with gravel so when you place the lotus in the pond, the soil won’t float away, or your fish won’t root in the mud, disturbing the plant. Lotus are heavy feeders, so adding aquatic fertilizer tabs is a good idea at this point. Add one tablet per gallon of soil every 3 weeks during the growing season.Once the lotus sends up a standing leaf, and the water temperature of the pond is above 70 degrees, you can safely put the lotus in the pond. As the lotus grows, you can sink it deeper in the pond if needed.
PLANTING THE WATER LILY
Once the tuber is cleaned and divided, fill the container about ¾ full of soil mix. Bury an aquatic fertilizer tablet deeply in the mix. Place the tuber horizontally on the soil with the growing tips pointed towards the most open area of the container. Roots should be spread out, and the tuber should be about half buried (but be sure not to bury the growing tips). Add enough gravel to keep all the soil in place, and keeping the larger gravel away from the growing tips. Place in the pond with the top of the pot 1-3 feet from the surface of the pond depending upon the size of the waterlily and pot. You can get them started faster by raising them up to 6” from the surface, and slowly dropping them lower as the plant grows.
From Jan Schreier