Light and heat: Lotus plants can tolerate some shade, especially in warmer regions, but they thrive when exposed to full sunlight, except in hot desert environments where it's recommended to use shade cloth. To achieve optimal growth and flowering, Lotus plants need a minimum temperature of 75°F for a duration of at least three months during summer.
Planting: In order to grow Lotus plants that are strikingly tall and impressive, even reaching heights of 5 feet or more for larger varieties or a still-impressive 3-4 feet for smaller or dwarf varieties, starting off with the right size container is key. The secret to success lies in choosing a container that is wide enough, without holes, and has a diameter of at least 15-16 inches. And for optimal growth and blooming, a container of no more than 10 inches in height is ideal.
Using a heavy loam/topsoil, either sandy or clay (a mix of clay and sand is ideal). Do not use potting soil, house plant, or garden mix. Only 4"- 5" of soil is required in the pot. Add enough water so the soil rises a couple of inches or so. Mix the water and soil together until it forms a good muddy mixture. On the top of the soil, place the tuber with growing tips up, and cover the main tuber body with 1" of soil. Leave the growing tips and cut end exposed. Also, place the container in a sunny warm spot.
In the 1st week, the tuber will produce small hair-like spurs that will grow and hold the tuber in the soil.
Growing tips will soon develop small leaves (coin leaves) that float on the water and begin photosynthesis to supply the tuber with energy to grow. You need to keep at least 2" of water over the top of the tuber. After a few days, the Lotus will grow the 1st aerial leaf which will soon stand above the water; when you have 2-3 aerial leaves, you can fertilize your Lotus and increase the water level above the tuber.
Fertilizer: For the optimal growth and flowering of Lotus plants, it's important to fertilize them with the right kind of aquatic plant fertilizer. Use either Pondtabbs or Nutra Pond slow-release fertilizer, following the instructions provided on the label. Given that Lotus plants are known for their vigorous growth, it's recommended to apply double the amount of fertilizer per gallon of soil as recommended for hardy waterlilies. Conversely, it's important to note that come late summer and autumn, stop fertilizing Lotus plants to allow them to use up the fertilizer in their pots and prepare for dormancy. With proper fertilization techniques, Lotus plants will thrive and produce abundant blooms.
Submerged depth: Always have at least 2" - 4" of water over the top of the soil. Tall/Large Lotus can grow in water up to 18" deep or even deeper in very warm climates, but the Lotus will expend more energy to send growth up and slow budding/blooming in cool and spring climates; lotus benefit from the extra warmth in shallow water. Dwarf Lotus should be grown with water 2" to 12" over the pot.
Water chemistry: Lotus adapt extremely well to different water types but react badly to extremely hard water. Over 1000 ppm of water hardness is challenging to tolerate for lotus plants.
Trimming: Proper trimming or pruning of Lotus plants is key to maintaining their health and beauty. When cutting back flower or leaf stems, it's important to avoid cutting them below the water level, as these stems, even if dead, can play a role in providing oxygen to the plant's roots and tubers. Instead, aim to trim them above the water level. During the winter months, trimming spent leaves can be great for their appearance, but be sure to leave the stalk intact to avoid damaging the plant.
Overwintering: All Lotus go dormant but will over-winter in ponds, even in Michigan or Minnesota, if the tubers are below the depth of the ice or move the Lotus into a frost-protected area (garage). Pulling the lotus container out of the pond and placing it in full sun in the spring (after the frost danger is over) can help Lotus wake up faster for a jump start to the season.