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water lily & water lotus

Bloomfield, IA(Zone 5a)

I'm relatively new to gardening and especially water gardening.. what I am trying to find out is what is the difference between water lilies and water lotus?? I have acquired some seeds for both and am not sure what I should do with either.. I have been experimenting and have some sprouting.. but am not finding much info on them... can anyone give me some info and advice?? thanks


Crofton, MD(Zone 7a)

Lionlady, Waterlily - Lotus

These two sites say more about waterlilies and lotus then I ever could. I have started lotus from seed and it's not to difficult. I just "nick" them and drop em in some water.

I never really considered starting lilies from seed. I have only used plant division starts.

What lily seeds did you aquire?


Bloomfield, IA(Zone 5a)

T thanks so much for those 2 sites.. they are very good...I've printed them off and hope to study them more....the name of the 2 types of lotus seeds that I have is one is Yellow Bird and the other they just called Native yellow....
what is the main difference between lotus and lilies??

Crofton, MD(Zone 7a)


They are two totally different species of plant. The lily will grow with the pads/leaves on the water surface. The flowers are usually held slightly above water level.

The Lotus on the other hand tends to hold it's leaves well above the water. The blossoms are also held very high. Early in the growing season the Lotus leaves will be on the surface but will soon rise well above surface. The lotus flower is gorgeous and has a large seed head in the middle. If you have ever been to a shop that sells artificial flowers for making arrangements, then you have probably seen a few lotus seed pods intermixed. They are woody with marble size seeds embedded in the pod. Here is another link with a seed pod picture.

Don't know if that answers your question, but I tried!


Northern Piedmont, NC(Zone 7b)

Hi lionlady,
There are several differences between lotus and water lilies. The lotus (Nelumbo) is a much bigger plant which holds it's blooms and pads high above the water. It is planted much more shallow than the water lily (Nymphaea)..with just 2-6" of water over the crown, where as, the lily is usually planted 6-18" or more below the waterline. The lily pads float on the water surface and usually their blooms too, however, there are some which send their blooms above the surface...'Texas Dawn' if one of those.

I started some lotus the way Terry mentioned and potted them after the first baby pad and roots appeared. Right now, they are wintering at the bottom of the pond...sure hope they made it! I have never tried water lilies from seed, but have heard that you just take a wad of wet clay and make a ball around the seed, drop it in water and wait for a sprout.

This site has alot of great info.


Bloomfield, IA(Zone 5a)

I just want to say thank you so much for all the info you are giving to me... it is starting to make sense.. but I think the people I know are calling lotus waterlilies?? We have a friend that has what he says are waterlilies but they get huge! Bloom only once a season but they are very tall maybe 6' high?? and huge blooms and he calls them water lilies..and they are wayup out ofthe water.. so maybe they are lotus instead??
I saw the lotus seed pod... at the site you sent me too... now what does a water lily seed look like?? the same??
really sorry to keep asking questions but you are all helping a lot..

Crofton, MD(Zone 7a)

Wow! now I'm really confused. If it is 6 feet high it ain't no lily. LOL!! I've never heard of or seen a lotus get that tall. Can you get a picture of it? I'd love to see a pic.

On the lily seed question, I never grew a lily from seed and really never looked for any. I'll do a few net searches and see what I can find.


Crofton, MD(Zone 7a)

I found a few site to check. The one lily seed picture I found looks just like a lotus seed.
Euryale -
Victoria -
banana -

Justa thought. Is your freind growing 'WATERLILY DAHLIAS'

Bloomfield, IA(Zone 5a)

wow... this just gets more and more interesting.... now I HAVE to call him (was planning on it but putting it off..hee hee) to see if he had a picture of it so I could scan it..
sooooo what is a waterlily dahlias???
this is so neat.. so much to learn...
now I better get off and see if I can get hold of him or his wife and see about the picture...

Bloomfield, IA(Zone 5a)

Just an update on the mystery plant.. I stopped and talked with them last night on my way to work and they said yes the leaves and flower stand at least 5 foot above the water and the flower is a neon color pink... they think they have some photos' of it and also some with people by it so they are checking their photographs for me... they said it is a very invasive type lily..?lotus...? but I was wrong on the blooming period they said it starts in the middle of the summer and continues till frost..and it withstands Iowa's winters... hopefully I'll get a photo soon...

Do you have any spare seeds of any of these things? They sound great, especially if they can withstand a winter in Zone 5. I only have a Veronica beccabunga in my pond, and while it's great for frogs to climb about in, the flowers are hardly noticeable. I have ordinary seeds to trade.

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