The Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) symbolizes purity, beauty, majesty, grace, fertility, wealth, richness, knowledge and serenity. The Pink Lotus is the National Flower of India. Nelumbo nucifera is known by a number of common names, including Sacred lotus, Indian lotus and Sacred water-lily.
Lotuses are found in white and pink colors in general and they grow in shallow and murky waters. Lotus flowers enjoy warm sunlight and are intolerant to cold weather. This is why the Lotus is not seen blossoming in the winter. The floating leaves and Lotus flowers have long stems, which contain air spaces to maintain the buoyancy. The Lotus is native to Asia and flourishes in a wide range of climates from India to China.
The Lotus plant is an aquatic perennial, native to southern Asia and Australia and most commonly cultivated in water gardens. The plant has its roots firmly in the mud and sends out long stems to which their leaves are attached. The leaves are sometimes, and Lotus flowers always, raised above the water surface. The beautiful and fragrant Lotus flower opens in the morning and petals fall in the afternoon.
Facts about Lotus Flowers
- The Lotus is a sacred flower for Buddhists.
- The Lotus flower is quoted extensively in Puranic and Vedic literature.
- The Lotus is one of the eight auspicious signs of Buddhism - an eight petalled lotus used in Buddhist mandalas symbolizes cosmic harmony, a thousand petalled Lotus, spiritual illumination. A bud symbolizes potential. The well-known Buddhist mantra, "Om mane padme," refers to the jewel in the lotus, enlightenment.
- In Egyptian mythology, the Lotus is associated with the sun, because it bloomed by day and closed by night. The Lotus is even believed to have given birth to the sun.
- The roots of the Lotus are planted in the soil of the pond or river bottom, while the leaves float on top of the water surface. The Lotus flowers are usually found on thick stems rising several centimeters above the water.
- The Lotus flowers, seeds, young leaves and rhizomes are all edible. In Asia, the petals are sometimes used for garnish, while the large leaves are used as a wrap for food.
- Various parts of the sacred Lotus are also used in traditional Asian herbal medicine.
- The Lotus fruits are a conical pod with seeds contained in holes in the pod. Nucifera means having hard fruit. When the seeds are ripe, they become loose in the pod. The pod then tips down towards the water, releasing the seeds.
- When the Lotus flower's petals fall, they are replaced by a flat-topped seed pod divided into compartments, resembling a wasp's hive. The tender seeds are munched happily in north-east India.
- The Lotus stem is eaten almost in all parts of India, and pickled too.
- Nelumbium luteum is the American Lotus, with pale, small flowers.
- The Indian or Chinese Lotus, nelumbium nelumbo, usually has pink flowers although white, rose and double varieties are available.
Growing a Lotus
- Place the seeds into a glass of non-chlorinated, warm water.
- The seeds that float should be thrown away since they are probably not fertile and will only cloud up the water. Change the water every day while you are waiting for them to sprout.
- Once you see the Lotus roots emerge, pot them in 4-inch pots filled with good garden loam; a depression should be made and one seed should be set in each pot. Cover the root gently with soil or gravel.
- If you waited too long and the Lotus leaves started to grow, keep them free of soil as you cover the root.
- The seed should be set in warm water up to 2 inches deep; no more than that.
- Give the Lotus as much light as possible until the water in your garden warms up to at least 60 degrees F.
- At this time, plant your Lotuses in larger containers without drainage holes.
- Lotuses started from seeds will probably not bloom in the first year.
Lotus Plant Care
- The Lotus plant should be fertilized sparingly for the first year.
- Too much fertilizer may cause the Lotus foliage to burn.
- A Lotus plant that is established can be fed every 3 or 4 weeks during the growing season.
- Care must be taken when inserting fertilizer tabs, because the growing tip and new growth can be damaged.
- It is important to protect the Lotus roots from freezing.
- Lotus can winter over in the pond if the pond depth is below the freeze line for your area.
- In late fall, the yellowed foliage should be cut off and the plant lowered to the deepest part of the pond.
- Or you may lift the tubers after the plant has died back during the fall.
- If you lift the tubers, store them in a cool, frost-free location until late spring.
- To help prevent mildew and rotting, store them in living sphagnum moss.