Saturday, 16 September 2017

Growing Nelumbo (Lotus) from Seed

How to Grow Lotus From Seed

Points to remember.

1. Lotus, although not a waterlily, is an aquatic plant and it needs to be in water to germinate and grow.
2. The depth of the water must cover the soil and the tubers, again or it will not grow, but it does not have to be more than a few inches as it will grow in the margins.
3. The seeds remain viable for hundreds of years if they are not scarified.

Preparation of the seed and sowing.

Lotus seeds are either round and the size of a large green pea or oval and the size of a shelled peanut. One end of the seed has a sharp point which is the remains of where it was attached to the stigma. On the opposite end is a tiny dimple, a remnant of where the seed was attached to the seed pod. The seed color can vary from dark gray to dark brown or black. The shell is very hard and consists of two layers which are tightly bonded together. Inside the shell are two paper thin brown colored seed coats which enclose the twin cream colored cotyledons.  Between the cotyledons is the Nelumbo embryo which consists of two prominent inrolled leaves with attendant stem. The leaves are doubled over against the stems because of the tight space. When the seed sprouts, the stems elongate to push the inrolled leaves up to the water surface. On the way up, the doubled over leaves straighten up and unroll after they reach the surface. There they become the round  floating leaves which are so characteristic of the Lotus. 

To scarify the seeds, hold the seed so that neither the pointed end, nor the dimpled end are showing (so you are working on the sides of the seed and then using a coarse grade of sandpaper (80 grade is ideal), rub the seed until you can see a distinct colour change to white.  Once this happens place the seed in water that is at a temperature of 70 - 90 F.

The water should change colour after a few hours to either a milky white (not so good) or a tan colour (much better).  If you get cloudy water, change it, rinse of the seeds and scrub the container and start over (this is a sign of bacteria feeding on the water and all is not sterile as it should be. The seed will also double in size

After 1 - 26 weeks, the seed will start to germinate.  From here things are very rapid as the seed leaves push up to full height in around 8 days and you have a mini Lotus.

Growing on

After the first four floating leaves are formed, the plant spreads by forming rhizomes with one leaf appearing at each internode. Side shoots occasionally appear at the internodes which allow for lateral spreading. The leaf diameters progressively increase and eventually are lifted clear of the water surface. In some instances during the first year of growth, the plant may pass through a temporary resting period. In these cases, growth ceases, the leaves turn yellow and the plant appears to be dying. This is a perfectly normal development for these plants during which the rhizome thickens to form a small banana shaped tuber. The plant then remains dormant for about three weeks when it starts growth again with renewed vigor if the water is warm.

When the roots appear, your Lotus can be grown in water in a waterlily pot and compost (heavy soil that does not float and eventually settles to allow for clear water.

During the first year of growth, only leaves are produced in most cases. Flowers are not generally produced until the second year. As the days get shorter in autumn, the leading rhizomes grow deep underground and form large resting tubers where they wait out the winter. All the leaves turn brown and only the resting tubers remains alive to start growth again the next spring. This means that the pot/basket you grow them in must be deep enough to allow this happen. A depth of 10 inches (25 cm), including the water, is the minimum you want to aim for, so a large container or a pond shallows should work.  Of course you can grow then in ponds where the depth is 36 inches (1 metre) or slightly more.

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