How one can develop lotus root for a peaceable pond

Not only are lotus flowers beautiful in landscaping, but their roots are edible too. With a sweet, crispy taste, these rhizomatic tubers are popular in Chinese and Japanese dishes. You will soon learn how to grow lotus roots for your own table because that is our topic today!

If you've ever done yoga, you are probably familiar with the sacred lotus. This peaceful flower isn't just a pop culture icon. It is an important spiritual symbol in Buddhism and Hinduism. It's also a beautiful aquatic plant that you can grow in your own garden with a little advance planning.

The lotus plant is super easy to grow, but it is different from your traditional green. As a water plant, it is at home in backyard ponds or water containers. That means we're going to change the soil, the fertilizer, and even the pot. This article covers all the details to get your lotus plant off to a great start!

Good products for growing lotus:

Brief instructions for care

Pink lace lotus flowerLotus flowers can be breathtakingly beautiful. Source: Choose him

Common Name (s) Lotus, sacred lotus, Indian lotus, Chinese lotus root
Scientific name Nelumbo nucifera
Days to harvest 5-8 months
light Full sun
Water: Submerged in at least 12 inches of water
ground Silty clay; fruitful
fertilizer Balanced water plant fertilizer
Pests Aphids, red spider mites
Diseases Fungal rot

Everything about lotus

Ripe lotus seed coatA ripe lotus seed coat looks very strange. Source: Hans Hillewaert

Nelumbo nucifera is a perennial native to Asia. It can grow in zones 4-10 year-round or anywhere else as a yearbook. Usually planted in spring, it produces pink and white flowers in early summer. Later in the season, lotus bulbs and seeds can be harvested for food or transplanting.

Chinese lotus plants are very easy to care for given the right conditions. In some parts of the US, especially the Midwest, they are even considered a harmful weed. The lotus bulbs, which are actually rhizomes, spread quickly in shallow water. If you don't keep the rhizomes in a container, they can easily take over an entire water feature.

The lotus plant belongs to the water lily family. In contrast to the frog-bearing water lily leaves with which we are all familiar, however, lotus flowers and leaves arise. This means that they grow above the water level instead of swimming. When planted in a container, the entire plant typically reaches 3 to 6 feet in height and spreads 3 to 4 feet wide.

The cup-shaped leaves can grow up to 2 feet in diameter. The flowers rise above the leaves and are about a foot in diameter. These fragrant flowers only open during the day and only last 3 days at a time.

Perhaps the most bizarre part of this plant is the fruiting process. The flower gives way to a round, scalloped platform that bears several small fruits and later seeds. At first glance, it looks like someone has stuck the end of a watering can right into the flower. Once dry, the platform resembles a wasp's nest.

There are a number of varieties of lotus. Some of our favorites are the peony-like lotus "Chinese Double Rose" and the "Mrs. Perry D. Slocum-Lotus that changes color every day! For those not fortunate enough to have a private pond, many varieties can be grown indoors in a container. We recommend the "Chawan Basu" or "Momo Botan" for small-scale cultivation.


Holy lotus leafThe broad leaves of the sacred lotus are very attractive. Source: Mauricio Mercadante

Planting is one of the most time consuming parts of the growing lotus. However, setting up your lotus plants is a lot easier than it seems.

When to plant

The typical growing season for lotus plants is March to October. This of course depends on where you live as there should be no chance of frost. If you live in a warm area like zone 10 or 11, you can plant in the middle of the fall and harvest in the spring.

You can also start growing lotus in a pot before the weather warms up. Once the frost is gone, they can easily be taken outside.

Where to plant

If there is one thing that you take out of this article, you know that it is imperative that lotus root be planted in a container. When the lotus bulbs are planted right at the bottom of a pond, they will spread like crazy. They are difficult to control – mainly because you have to drain the pond or swim to gain access to them. Growing lotus in a pot sunk in the pond ensures that they stop. It will also be much easier to remove the plant from the pond for harvesting or wintering.

For each lotus root, choose a large container, at least 10 inches in diameter, with no drainage holes. Save yourself the hassle and get yourself a container with sturdy handles as you will be moving it around quite a bit!

When you're not out on the pond, use a large, waterproof container. Many gardeners have used a barrel or even a trash can. For indoor growing lotuses, choose a large bowl or decorative pot.

How to Plant

Now that you have your container and location, let's get your hands dirty. Fill the container about ¾ the correct soil – we'll learn more about it in a few minutes. Stir in water until the bottom has a muddy consistency.

The easiest way to grow the lotus flower is with rhizomes. We will therefore focus on this method. Lotus tubers grow in continuous sections (they look like sausage links made from potatoes). Your tuber should have at least one section with a strong shoot. The tip of the shoot can be fragile. So be careful not to cancel it.

Place the tuber in the mud against the side of the container. The shoots should be directed upwards. Cover the rhizome with a little mud so that only the shoots stick out. Then add at least an inch of water (the shoots do not need to be completely covered).

You can now bring the potted lotus plant into your pond. Place the container in a shallow part of the pond where it will get plenty of sunlight. There should be at least a foot of water above the pot. In about 2 weeks you will notice leaves beneath the surface.

Lotus Care

Lotus flower developing seed coatThe seed chamber develops in the center of the lotus flower. Source: Hans Hillewaert

The hardest part is over and now we can focus on keeping our lotus plants happy. Here are the care requirements for these beautiful plants.

Sun and temperature

Most of your lotus may be underwater, but the large leaves need a lot of sun. As with any sun-loving plant, make sure your lotus plant has 6-8 hours of sun every day.

During the summer lotus grows and blooms best at 70-80 ° F. As soon as the temperature drops in autumn, the lotus roots overwinter in the mud as long as they don't freeze. In most areas, ponds will freeze no more than 3 to 4 feet deep, so the roots should be fine. However, you may want to put the container in a deeper part of the pond in winter just in case. You can also just take the container to your shed or garage and change the water as needed.


We have good news: you will never forget to water this plant! Since the Chinese lotus root is fully submerged, your only responsibility is to monitor the water level and quality.

As already mentioned, your lotus plant should be under at least 30 cm and up to 30 cm of water. Use a pump or agitator for water features to keep the water fresh, aerated, and moving. This keeps the pH in balance and protects surface pests such as mosquitoes. Lotus usually grows well with aquatic animals, although koi have been known to nibble on them.

If you are growing lotus in a container, top up the water level as needed. You should also make sure that the water is changed every year.


We may grow these tubers in the mud, but that doesn't mean we can ignore the quality of the soil. The lotus bulb needs a rich soil with a lot of organic matter. However, normal potting soil will not cut them.

Potting soil is usually very light and clayey, which causes it to float to the top when submerged underwater. Other growth media such as peat, coconut, perlite, and vermiculite also float. To keep everything in place, we need a heavy soil with a muddy clay structure.

You can buy pond plant bottoms that are designed for water lilies. Alternatively, you can make your own parts by mixing 4 parts clay or loam soil with 1 part composted, aged cow dung. When mixed with water, the bottom should turn into thick mud.


When the first leaf of air rises above the water, it's time to start fertilizing. For best results, apply fresh nutrients every month through winter. Use a fertilizer that is balanced and made for aquatic plants. The easiest way to apply fertilizer underwater is to use fertilizer tablets. Just push them into the mud and they'll release their nutrients quickly.

Please use good judgment when selecting a fertilizer. It should ideally be organic and safe for aquatic life. Some fertilizers can contain chemicals that promote algae growth. So, do some research before buying.

Unless your lotus root is used in a solid aquaponic system, you are not relying on fish to provide nutrients for it. If the young lotus is to grow well, it needs fertilizer.


Pruning will keep your Chinese lotus root like new. Cut off all yellow leaves and dead flowers throughout the growing season. Since even dead stems absorb oxygen, always clamp them above the water level. If you need to relocate the container to a different part of the pond for the winter, move it around before pruning the dead leaves. Make sure to throw away or compost the debris instead of leaving it in the water gardens.

If you are growing lotus roots as a perennial, dab them over with fresh soil every 3-4 years. When the lotus root has filled the entire container, you will need to divide to propagate it or use a larger pot.


As you can see from our planting method, the lotus root is mainly propagated by dividing the rhizomes. The roots continuously grow bulbous limbs that can be cut into several plants. Because they grow so quickly, you can take cuttings for your friends and still have enough to fill your water garden!

At the beginning of the growing season, when new shoots appear on the tuber, cut the limbs apart. In order to grow a new plant, each section must have at least one intact growth tip. Please be careful not to break them!

This plant can be grown from lotus seeds, but it is an unreliable method. A lotus seed can be viable for thousands of years thanks to its long dormant period. Unfortunately, this means the seeds will be very difficult to germinate as they may not be ready. If you don't have a lot of patience and time each year, the best thing to do is to throw away the seed and plant the root.

Harvesting and storing

Cut lotus rootCut lotus root has a very distinctive and identifiable appearance. Source: Urasimaru

If you're feeling adventurous enough to harvest a lotus root, we're here to help! Everything you need to make a meal out of tubers can be found here.


Wait for the flowers to fade in early fall to start harvesting. Take the pot out of its watery home and cut back the stems. Then dig up any rhizomes and set aside any that you plan to plant next spring. The rhizomes are viable for at least 50 years so you can hold onto them for a while. Just keep them in a cool, dark place until you need them.

Wash the roots that you plan to eat well and store them in the refrigerator. As long as they are kept cool and in the dark, they will last all winter. There are different lotus root recipes such as fried lotus or crispy lotus chips. The seeds are also edible and great in curry.


As mentioned earlier, lotus roots can be stored long-term in a cool, dark place for over a year. However, the harvest tastes best when used within a few weeks of being harvested. Alternatively, you can slice the lotus root and dry or dehydrate it for a tasty snack later.


Fusarium incarnatum on Nelumbo nuciferaFusarium incarnatum on lotus leaves. Source: soenke.haas

Since they are used in water, you shouldn't have a lot of problems with your lotus root. However, you need to be on the lookout for potential problems.

Growing problems

Lotus plants are prone to ChlorosisThen the leaves turn yellow. This is usually caused by over- or under-fertilization. The imbalance in water pH can also be to blame. You should therefore change the water for a standing water pot every year. Use an agitator in ponds to keep the water habitable. Leaves affected by chlorosis may not recover, but you can also prevent the rest of the leaves from turning yellow.

Water lilies are usually fine with pond animals, however Koi They have been known to nibble on the plants and disrupt the soil. If your koi are struggling, try moving the plants to the very edge of the water and blocking them off with stones to separate the plants from the fish. It also helps to fill the pond with lots of plants so the fish doesn't pick just one repeatedly.


If there's really something wrong with the water, you probably won't have many pest problems. Any problems you encounter are likely to be minor pests on the leaves and flowers.

Aphids seem to be a problem anywhere, even near water. Although they usually don't cause fatal damage, these pests can transmit disease to the plant. Large clusters of aphids suck the life out of a plant, causing it to turn yellow and wither.

Spider mites can also attack your lotus plants. These pests spin ultra-fine webs on the plant and cause yellow spots on the leaves. They can be more difficult to get rid of. You should therefore take action at an early stage.

The best pest control we can use here are beneficial predators. Fish and frogs both feed on insects, including those pesky aphids and spider mites. You can even shake the plant or hose it down to make some of the pests fall into the water.

If you don't have wildlife on your side, insecticidal soap or neem oil will treat these pests as well. However, since we work in water gardens, make sure that all pesticides for the water supply are safe.

Finally, there is one pest that most people who have a water garden have feared: Mosquitoes. They breed in slowly flowing or standing water and lay their eggs on the surface of the water. Consider applying a mosquito dunk or other BTi additive to reduce the mosquito population. These pests may not hunt your plant, but they will happily feed on you!


Because it is in such a humid environment, the lotus plant can develop rot. Some varieties of lotus were bred to resist rot, but it could still happen.

While Lotus rots are not common, they seem to get a bit more over time. Recent studies have shown that many of these rots can be linked to Fusarium fungi, particularly Fusarium incarnatum and Fusarium tricinctum.

These Fusarium species are not as common in the US as they are in their native China, but can be found as fungal pathogens on corn, rice, or sorghum. People in an area where any of these plants are grown commercially should look out for symptoms called a Lotus root disease caused by these pathogens.

If your lotus's leaves develop visible tanned edges and wither, it is likely that they are suffering from Fusarium incarnatum. Fusarium tricinctum tends to be darker and more harmful to the root.

There are currently no prescribed solutions for treating these two strains of Fusarium, but treatment used to relieve other more common Fusarium wilting symptoms may be beneficial. It is also recommended to cut off damaged plant parts and discard (not compost).

frequently asked Questions

Lotus rootLotus rhizomes develop as long, segmented masses of roots. Source: Eric Hunt

Q: Can I grow lotus without soil?

A: Not exactly. Lotus plants need something to anchor it to the bottom of the container. It also needs many nutrients that are most easily accessible from organic matter in the soil.

Q: can lotus only grow in water?

A: You can sprout the seeds in water, but ripe lotus should grow in the soil.

The green fingers behind this article:

Leave a comment