Growing Lotus 101

Beautiful, tropical looking, it’s actually easy to grow a lotus plant. Cold hardy to zone 5, you can grow and leave a lotus outdoors in Chicago!

How To Grow Lotus

Lotus flower colors include white, red, pink, yellow, lavender and blue. Blooming from early to late summer, they are one of the most majestic aquatic plants you can grow. Lotus is not surprisingly the national flower of India.

Lotus plants are closely related to water lilies but distinct from lilies in that the flowers and foliage are held on stalks above the water whereas the flowers and foliage pads of water lilies float on the water’s surface (with the exception of tropical water lily flowers which also bloom above the water line).

Lotus is hardy from zones 5-10 which covers most of North America.

Lotus flowers are available in many colors.

Growing Lotus In Ponds Vs. Containers

It’s best to keep lotus planted in a container, even if you plan on placing it at the bottom of a pond. This way you can move it at will and fertilize it much easier.

Soil And Sun Requirements

Lotus plants need at least 6 hours of sun per day to bloom properly and thrive.

For soil you can buy soil made especially for pond plants, or use a heavy topsoil or clay. Do not use garden soil or anything with peat moss or too much organic material because some of this material will float in the water and soil too high in organic matter will tend to make your newly planted seeds or tubers rot.

You can however use a small amount of compost in your soil. Try a mix of 80% clay or topsoil with 20% composted soil. Blend well before adding water.

How To Plant Lotus Tubers

The bottom part of a live lotus plant including the roots is called a tuber. When you purchase a live lotus plant online or from a mail-order nursery, you will get a tuber or tubers.

The tubers will look somewhat wilted and half-dead but this is common and it’s easy to bring them to life. Be sure to plant them as soon as they arrive or as soon as you bring them home from a local nursery.

The parts that look like lobster claws growing from the tuber are called ‘growth tips’. This is where leaves and flower stems grow from.

Note: Be very delicate with the growth tips when planting as breaking or damaging them can kill your new lotus plant.

Planting Procedure:

Use a water-tight container without drainage holes. This will be your planting container.

Fill container with at least 4 inches of soil.

Fill with enough water just to wet soil (no standing water).

Gently place tuber on the surface of the wet soil.

Now cover tuber with a small amount of soil, about 4 inches, with growth tips pointing upwards. The growth tips should remain slightly above the soil with the rest of the tuber buried. (leave growth tips slightly out of the soil).

Cover the soil with a thin layer of sand or gravel. This keeps the tuber in place and the water from becoming muddy when you place this growing container into a larger pond or container pond.

After you have your tuber planted in wet soil, fill with more water to cover the tuber above the tips. The growth tips should be covered with water at all times, as water evaporates, replace daily or every other day with more water.

Place in a sunny spot.

Once you have some aerial leaf growth (leaves that stick up above the water line) you can transfer your growing container into a pond or a larger container such as a half whiskey barrel or large ceramic container without drainage holes (you can fill any drainage holes with silicone caulking).

How To Grow Lotus From Seed

How To Get More Blooms

Proper planting is important.

Make certain your lotus is receiving at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.

Fertilizing is necessary for prolific blooms. Wail until you have some aerial pads (leaves sticking out of the water) before applying fertilizer for the first time.

A “10-14-8” or similar fertilizer made specifically for aquatic pond plants is recommended for the best looking foliage and flower production. Pond plant fertilizer usually comes in the form of small tabs which you push down into the soil of your potted lotus plant. Always follow the package directions to ensure best results.

Where To Buy Lotus Plants

You can find lotus plants at your local water garden nurseries, and online retailers.

I provided links below for everything mentioned in this article for your convenience.

As a disclaimer, our website is an Amazon affiliate. This in no way affects our recommendations to our valued readers.

Besides local nurseries, Amazon, Ebay and Etsy, I would also recommend Pond Megastore if you live in the U.S. and Canada, and Waterside Nurseries if you are in the U.K.

Growing Lotus Resources


‘Pink China’ lotus seeds (

‘Sapphire Blue’ lotus seeds (

Assorted colors pack of lotus seeds (

Tubers (live plants):

Oriental lotus tubers ‘Beautiful Dancer’ pink flowering live plants (

Red flowering lotus tubers, live plants (

Fertilizer for best blooms:

Pond plant fertilizer 10-14-8 (

Planting containers and growing media:

Potting soil for pond plants (

19.5″ pot planter for growing lotus (


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