Forever Pondering – Question and Answer

Nelumbo ‘Momo Botan’
Nelumbo ‘Momo Botan’

Question: Could You Provide Some Less Common Uses for Lotus

Answer: Disappearing waterfalls and streams have continued to gain in popularity across the country. They are generally flanked by long expanses of stone and/or large boulders. Grasses, iris and creeping plants are the predominant plants of choice to soften the hard stonework along with plant selections beyond the water’s edge. With a little creativity the bold, broad foliage of lotus can easily be engineered into the plan providing an exquisite compliment to the falling water, rocks and boulders. The various sizes of lotus available make them a suitable choice to establish balance in the water feature. The massive foliage of lotus can dwarf large boulders and bring them into scale with the entire water feature.

Most disappearing waterfalls have a reservoir at the bottom to supply the water feature and liner is used underneath the stones to create the waterfall or stream. The same liner that is used to build the waterfall can be used to line large planting pockets for lotus. The pockets should be built just outside of the main flow of water, but not so far out that the pocket is excluded from water movement. Lotus thrives in moving water. The goal is to position the planting pockets in an area that will allow the lotus to serve as a lush, dense backdrop without obstructing the flow or the view of the water movement.

The area can be any shape and should be at least 12-15” deep with relatively steep sides to keep the plants in their designated area. It is important that some of the water from the waterfall or stream spills over into the lotus pool. This ensures the lotus maintains a consistent water level and good circulation. The heavy feeding lotus plant will work to reduce nutrients in the water feature that contributes to algae growth. Although the planting area is 12-15” deep it should only contain 4-5” of soil and be a minimum of nine square feet of surface area (more is always better) especially for large cultivars. Medium lotus would require a minimum of 5 square feet of surface area and small cultivars a minimum of three square feet with a pocket depth of 12”. The low soil level allows the plant to easily penetrate the soil and grow freely in the determined space. Deeper soil levels, especially when high in clay content, can become compacted as the roots fill in and take up space. The low soil level allows the new growth to form beneath the old decaying matter, pushing it up toward the surface for easier maintenance.

Lotus is likely one of the most versatile plants you can grow. It has thrived in anything from old claw footbath tubs to a child’s baby pool. By simply defining the perimeter of space it is allowed to grow in, lotus can be incorporated into any growing situation where water is available. This charming and charismatic beauty will have your clients in awe. The captivating characteristics of the distinct flowers and seedpods will captivate them.

All too frequently plants are placed at random in the water garden without regard to their limitations, preferences and habits (good or bad). Education is important to gain the intimate knowledge of various varieties and types of plants as well as their cultural requirements to establish your company as a leader in the industry.

Source: Pond & Garden Lifestyle May/June & July/August 2008

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