Lotus flower

Lotus flower

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The lotus flower

The flower of an aquatic plant native to Asia and America, called Nelumbo, is called the lotus flower; only two species belong to the genus Nelumbo: nelumbo nucifera, of Asian origin, also called sacred lotus; and Nelumbo lutea, or American lotus. In Italy in the nursery are generally found specimens of the Asian species, together with some hybrids, which are often more resistant and vigorous than the botanical species.
The nelumbo are large plants. They produce a broad semi-woody foot, consisting of rhizomatous roots, which tend to sink into the ground; from the roots rise vigorous cylindrical stems, stiff and erect, which bear large cordate or roundish leaves, and large pink or white flowers. The lotus leaves are greyish green, and are covered with substances that make them completely water repellent; they are quite leathery, and often, like flowers, rise above the surface of the water, and it is difficult to see them all completely submerged or floating, unlike what happens with water lilies. When the flower withers, a large pod remains for days on the rigid stem, which becomes woody in the shape of a funnel with the passing of days, which is often used, dried, in floral compositions.


These plants, despite their exotic beauty, are easy to cultivate, especially if you have a small, rather deep pond, at least 30-40 cm; they can also be grown in large pots for hydroponics, or in other containers, as long as they have a good amount of water and space. They are resistant and vigorous plants, which are not afraid of frost, as long as they remain in non-frozen water; if we live in an area where winter is decidedly very rigid, with very intense and prolonged frosts, we can cover the pond with non-woven fabric, or cultivate our flower in a vase, to be moved indoors in the event of intense frost; in any case, if the water is not completely frozen, they can remain outdoors even in the case of sporadic and slight frosts. In Italy there is a huge lotus flower pond in the spectacular garden of Villa Taranto, in Verbania, where the winters are certainly not mild, although heated by the proximity of the lake.
The semi-woody tubers are buried at the bottom of the pond; to do this let's have a grilled pot, let's place the tuber, with the shoot at the top, and cover the whole tuber with a sufficiently compact compound, so that it remains in position once the pot is sunk in the water. If we want to place the lotus in a large vase, we place the tuber on the bottom, and then cover it with soil suitable for aquatic plants, until we reach the base of the shoot, which will be left outside the soil. Then we cover completely with water, or we place the vessel anchored to the bottom of our pond. If we have a small garden pond, we avoid placing the lotus outside of a vase because it tends to become invasive with time, and the presence of the vase will help us keep the tuber compact over the years.
These plants do not need further treatment, except for periodic fertilization with specific fertilizers for aquatic plants.

The lotuses in winter

these exotic plants can bear short frosts, of slight entity; they can survive in the garden even when temperatures fall below -7 / -10 ° C, as long as the water remains de-iced; the freezing of the entire pond obviously causes the death of the tuber, and therefore we control the temperature of the water, and we cover the pond in case it tends to freeze. Obviously, during particularly cold winters, it can happen that the leaves are damaged by frost; at the arrival of spring it is advisable to sport them, to favor the development of new shoots, and to avoid them being vehicles of rot or other fungal or bacterial diseases. The stems that carry flowers and leaves are hollow, and are in direct contact with the rhizome, to prevent these stems from filling up completely with water, sometimes leading to the tuber's suffocation, when we remove a ruined leaf or flower let's stop with the cut above the water surface, for at least 5-10 cm, so that the water cannot enter the trunk.

Lotus flower: Propagation

Inside the thick woody capsule there are large spherical or oval seeds, generally fertile; these seeds are very vital, and remain so for centuries. This is possible thanks to the fact that they are covered by a thick and hard cuticle, which does not allow external agents to penetrate inside. So if we simply go to sow a lotus in the ground at the bottom of our pond, we will have to wait several months before the water can penetrate into the seed, causing germination; to speed up this process, in general, the outer part of the seed is passed with sandpaper, so as to slightly thin the enclosing cuticle. Obviously we act with caution and delicacy, to avoid damaging the contents of the seed irreparably. The flowers that we can find in the nursery are generally hybrid plants, so it will be highly unlikely that a plant identical to the mother plant will grow from our seeds.
To get a plant just the way we want it, with flowers identical to those we admired in a pond, we will have to get a portion of the tuber, or rather a side shoot of it. Lotus flowers are vigorous plants, which tend to propagate autonomously with great wealth, in fact whoever could admire them in nature, can almost always ensure that they have enjoyed an expanse of lotus plants, and not two or three small plants . So, if our neighbor has lotus flowers in the garden, she will almost certainly be happy to give us a shoot of her tubers, which generally must be cut every two or three years, to prevent the plants from proliferating excessively .