Cultivated for their showy blooms and glossy leaves, gorgeous lotuses can also add a unique charm to your small garden.

Your best bet this summer for a bountiful garden: blooming lotuses that flower from July to September. Here, we tell you all about the varieties to bring home, and how you can grow them even in containers.

cultivate lotus

MEET THE VARIETIES

There are two species of lotus: Nelumbo lutea and Nelumbo nucifera. The former is most commonly known as the American lotus. It has delicate flowers, varying from white to pale yellow, with over 20 petals each; while its stem stands up to three-and-a-half feet tall, above water. On the other hand, Nelumbo nucifera, also referred to as the Indian lotus, has pink and white flowers, with a diameter as wide as 13 inches. Also called angel wings, it has well-rounded waxy leaves and fragrant flowers. Apart from these varieties, there is also the blue lotus, which blooms only at night.

ART OF GROWING

All lotus varieties need heat and sun, along with water to thrive. They lend a different dimension to gardens, and you don’t need to own a sprawling lawn to nest them— they do equally well in small ponds and containers. However, never grow lotuses in running water, which means including a fountain feature in your lotus pond is a no-no. In moving water the lotus rhizome or the tuber starts rolling back, thus losing its root system.

cultivate lotus
cultivate lotus

LOTUS CONTAINERS

To grow the lotus in a container, start by identifying the right kind of planter. Lotuses need pots that are at least two-feet deep, and have a diameter of 15- to 18-inches. Also, choose a hybrid variety of lotus, as they adapt to containers quite easily and size themselves accordingly. Next, fill your planter with a mixture of clay and ordinary soil. Set the lotus rhizome/tuber in the centre, with their ‘eyes’—small openings from which the leaves sprout— facing upwards. Cover it with some soil, leaving the eyes exposed. Add a layer of gravel on top to keep the rhizome/ tuber in place. Then, add enough water to reach the brim of the planter. (Bear in mind the water level in your pot should never deplete). Within three weeks, a tall, pointed lotus bud will rise from the pot, along with glossy leaves. Once the petals open up, the showy flower will bloom for four to five days.

FACT FILE

Here are six facts about the lotus plant

  • Lotus flowers, seeds, and roots are all edible.
  • In Korea, its leaves and petals are used to brew herbal teas.
  • Plant fibre from lotus plants were used for weaving special robes for Lord Buddha.
  • In China, powdered lotus is burnt on ceremonial occasions.
  • The lotus symbolizes purity and elegance in ancient Chinese texts. A Chinese saying coined by scholar Zhou Dunyi, goes like this: “I love the lotus because while growing from mud, it is unstained.”
  • The lotus is also mentioned in the Bhagavadgita: “One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action as the lotus is untouched by mud.”

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