Growing Lotus from seed

Starting the native American Lotus (Nelumbo lutea) from seed is easy.

Start them now in Fall, keep them protected from frost and they will flower next summer.

native American Lotus

The big seeds need to be nicked, so I held them in a vice and filed carefully until I could see the cream-colored inside of the seeds at one spot.

Lotus seed pod

Next, I put them in a glass with warm water on my kitchen window sill, and every time I noticed the glass I exchanged the water with warm tap water. In a few days the seeds sprouted.

Baby Lotus

As soon as the sprouts were a few inches tall and started to reach out of the glass, I planted them in buckets.
Cheap paint buckets bought at the box store seem to be just the right size.
First I filled the buckets with mucky dirt. I am ‘lucky’ enough to have just that in my yard.
I planted the babies, each in its own pot, filled it up with warm water and placed them in a sunny spot on the back porch.


The first Winter

Shortly after planting, the first small leaves (silver dollar sized) came up. I added a little of the all-purpose liquid plant fertilizer.
The temperatures dropped in January/February and the lotus babies quickly went dormant. I left them in the sunny location but brought the buckets into the garage during the coldest nights.
The days got warmer and the plants started to wake up, all but one. Until the leaves started to grow, I covered the buckets with screen material so not to invite bugs.

baby lotus

Soon the first aerial leaves grew. They seemed happy in their buckets, and seemed to like the occasional all-purpose liquid fertilizer.
In May I found good homes for two of the babies.

First Summer

Middle of May my lotus baby was planted into a three-gallon pot and placed in the ‘Salad Bowl’ with a canna, horsetail and water lettuce.
Since the lotus is a strong and fast grower, I suggest NOT to release it in your lake, pond, or in the wild, but keep it contained.

lotus bowl

A bubble fountain adds oxygen to the water for some water snails and minnows, they have the job of eating the mosquito larvae.
In a matter of three months, I had to evict the horsetail and most of the water lettuce since the bowl got too crowded.

lotus bud

In August, I found the first lotus flower bud!
The bud opens up to become a beautiful, creamy white flower.


native American Lotus

classic Beauty - the Lotus


  1. Wow, those flowers are beautiful! I've never seen the seed pod of a lotus before. Very interesting looking!
    I love the idea of growing them in a bowl. I would love a little pond but don't really have a spot for one. But a lotus bowl looks really awesome and more easily done!
    Such a great informative post!

  2. Thanks Indie, glad you like it. I got the idea from some street plantings (lotus in huge bowls) in Thailand.
    If you ever find a spot for a 'lotus bowl' let me know and I'll send you some seeds :)

  3. They are beautiful, I haven't seen that color. I'm in Central Florida and I just started my first seeds in April this year and I have two 20 gallons pots, got two blooms in one and three in the other, but mine are pink.