How to Plant and Grow Lotus

There is no aquatic flower more lovely than a lotus. To many people and cultures, lotus flowers represent both a feeling of gentle, calming peace and a new beginning. Lotus represent the idea that a person can rise above stress and trouble to find a new start, just as the lotus rises out of the water and rolls away any trace of mud. The sight of a large vista of lotus flowers is breathtakingly beautiful. And, they are remarkedly easy to grow!

Jianxuan 17 in pond



How do I plant a lotus tuber?

Lotus tubers vary widely in size and appearance depending on the variety. Rhizomes, or tubers, from ornamental varieties are usually small and may be no larger than a pencil in diameter while some of the edible varieties have very large tubers. In the pictures below the rounded sections of the tuber are called internodes. The place where two internodes join is called the node. The growth tips come from the node and will eventually becomes leaves or flowers.


lotus tubers with growth tipsLarge lotus tubers



A healthy tuber is usually firm to the touch with one or more growing tips for leaves and flowers. Be very careful when handling the tuber because breaking the growing tips will slow the growth of your lotus and in some cases will keep it from growing at all. The tuber should not be allowed to freeze.


If you plant your lotus in a pot with holes and drop it into your ornamental pond there is a good chance that the lotus will escape through the holes and grow to fill a large portion of your pond. 

Our lotus are all intended for ornamental use.  Do not plant lotus tubers in open waters such as lakes, ponds or bogs because they spread very quickly. Never plant a lotus on public property without specific permission.


How to Plant Lotus:
Copy and paste this address into a search engine for a
YouTube video that will demonstrate how to harvest and plant lotus tubers:

When do I plant a lotus tuber?
Wait until nighttime temperatures routinely stay above 50* F (10*C) before planting your lotus tuber. Plant it outside in a pot that receives full sun. Do not start your lotus inside except in greenhouse conditions. Planting a lotus too early causes it to use up the limited amount of energy stored in the tuber which can actually cause growth to be slow and weak.
What soil do I use to plant a lotus tuber?

Put several inches of good topsoil – just plain dirt or silty loam - into the pot. This topsoil can be purchased in bags at a garden center or dug from your pond bottom or yard. Do not use potting soil; it is too light and will float and foam when water is added and the lotus rhizomes tend to float when planted in it. 

How deep should water be when planting lotus tubers?
Add enough water to raise the water level to about 2-3” above the soil. 

Place the tuber into the mud with the growing tips pointed up. Chinese growers leave the 'tail', the cut end, of the lotus tuber above water for a few days. Try not to cover the growing tips completely with soil. Place the pot in a warm, sunny area. In a few days the true roots, small hair-like projections, will grow and anchor the tuber into the soil. Be sure to replace the water as it evaporates.


The growing tips will soon give way to the first small leaves, called coin leaves. These leaves will float on the surface of the water as they begin the process of photosynthesis to help provide energy for the plant to grow. 
lotus coin leaves, floating leaves
Within a few days the first aerial leaf will emerge from the water. At this time you can begin to raise the level of the water in the pot. Remember to plant the smaller varieties of lotus in shallower water than large varieties.

 lotus aerial leaf    Once aerial leaves appear begin to fertilize the lotus.


What pots do you use when planting lotus??
Lotus pots
Containers for Planting Lotus

Lotus prefer wide but shallow pots. Any water-tight rounded container with no holes is acceptable for growing lotus. The size of the pot is determined by the type of lotus you are growing with larger varieties requiring larger pots. The mature size of a lotus will be affected by the size of the pot in which it grows.  Using a wider, bigger pot allows more room for rhizome production, thus resulting in more and larger leaves and flowers. Larger pots will encourage the lotus to grow to the larger extreme for their variety. Planting the same lotus in a healthy pond environment will allow it to reach its full potential resulting in a plant much larger than if it had been planted in a small pot. Lotus classified as Exquisites of Bowl Lotus (mini or micro lotus) are prized for their ability to grow in the smallest pots, producing miniature lotus that can be brought inside easily for a day or two when they are in bloom.

Suggested pot sizes are:

*Teacup or Micro Lotus.......pot 8" or less in diameter
*Exquisite of Bowl lotus......pot less than 11" in diameter

*Bowl lotus............................pot 15" or less in diameter
*Small lotus...........................12-18" in diameter
*Medium lotus.......................
14-20"  in diameter
*Large lotus...........................20-48" in diameter

The round container allows the runners of the lotus to grow around the bottom of the pot in a circular pattern instead of getting jammed into a corner. 

Using the Pot-in-Pot method for growing very small lotus varieties:
Growing lotus in very small pots can be challenging because the pots tend to dry out rapidly and the roots can overheat when in the full sun. We recommend using the pot-in-pot method to help solve these problems when growing in small pots. 

Pot-in-Pot Method for Micro Lotus 
“Lotus cultivars developed to grow and flourish in very small pots (4”-12” wide, 8” or less deep). These hybrids usually stay less than 13” tall.”

We recommend growing these varieties using the pot-in-pot method.

Choose two pots:

Pot A – small display pot. This is the smallest of the two pots and should measure at least 4” smaller in diameter and 2” less in height than Pot B. The lotus tuber is planted in Pot A. This pretty pot can be removed from Pot B for display when lotus is blooming.
Pot B - larger outside growing pot, not for display. Pot A should be able to sit in Pot B with about at least a 2” margin on all sides and at top.

1) Fill Pot A (display pot) ¾ full of topsoil.
2) Fill to top with water and plant tuber in Pot A.
3) Place Pot A in Pot B.
4) Slowly fill Pot B with water, making sure that there is at least 1” of water above the top rim of Pot A, the display pot with planted tuber.
5) Place in direct sun. Keep water level higher than top rim of Pot A.


  1.  Check to see if the seed is viable (will grow) by dropping it in a glass of water. If it FLOATS, throw it away. It will either produce a very weak plant or not grow at all. Keep the seeds that sink to the bottom. Seed Float or Sink Test

2. Scarify (scratch) the seed to remove the dark brown seed coat on the outside. STOP as soon as you reach the creamy tan color. Filing or cutting deeper sometimes causes the seed to rot before it begins to grow.

Scarified seed

3. Drop scarified seed into water that is several inches deep. Tap water will work well.  If the water becomes cloudy pour it out very gently and refill with fresh water. Place in a sunny or well-lighted area.

4. Seed will begin to sprout in a few days. First, a tiny leaf will grow and float on the top of the water. Next tiny, pink hair-like roots called adventitious roots will grow from the seed. When this happens transfer the seed very carefully to a growing pot that has several inches of soil covered by several inches of water. Push a small indentation about the size of the seed into the soil and carefully place the seed into the hole, leaving the leaf to float to the top of the water. Push a little soil around the sides of the seed - it is not necessary to bury it.

Seeds ready to plant

 5. Once the lotus grows more floating leaves or an aerial leaf add a small amount of fertilizer (1/2 small aquatic fertilizer tablet or 1/4 teaspoon of granular fertilizer with balanced formula). Place the fertilizer away from the seed to avoid 'burning' the delicate plant.