Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: American Lotus
Nelumbo lutea

Family: Nelumbonaceae
Genus: Nelumbo (nee-LUM-bo) (Info)
Species: lutea (LOO-tee-uh) (Info)

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

24 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Ponds and Aquatics

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

over 40 ft. (12 m)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction
Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors
Scarify seed before sowing

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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3 positives
3 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral BUFFY690 On Aug 26, 2011, BUFFY690 from Prosperity, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Growing lotus for the first time in an old pond (quite small) I figure I can offset the invasive factor by collecting seeds and pulling some and eating the root...if it takes off at all:0)

Positive garg On May 3, 2011, garg from Alor Setar
Malaysia wrote:

The seed is edible. When it's still green, you can pick it out of the pod and eat it raw - very sweet and fresh. If the seed pod has dried, pick the seeds out, split in half, soak and boil. In Asia, it is added to desserts and soups. It has a dry, nutty texture.

The roots are also edible. Slice and stir fry, or slice very thinly with a mandolin, dip in batter and fry as tempura. Crispy, sweet and absolutely delicious!

Don't treat it as a weed - eat it!

Neutral grrrlgeek On Jan 18, 2010, grrrlgeek from Grayslake, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

Native plants become invasive when competitor plants are destroyed or not present where they are planted. This happens especially with decorative flowering species that are grown without native rushes, etc.

That said, we have a tiny neglected pond that desperately needs something to use up excess nutrients so we're taking the plunge with 4 seeds. If they survive we will try to get all the pods off before they spread.

Positive IslandJim On Aug 10, 2007, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

Isn't the notion of an invasive native an oxymoron? If not, I can think of a half-dozen natives that ought to be targets for the weedkillers, including the beloved southern live oak.

Positive OhioBreezy On Jun 2, 2004, OhioBreezy from Dundee, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

The scent alone is well worth growing this for! They are a pretty yellow here and just gorgeous. They do get rather tall, but if they are in a pond they work beautifully. Beware though, the fishies love to eat the emerging baby roots!

Negative ThreeBarns On Mar 24, 2004, ThreeBarns from Lees Summit, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

I am in zone 5/6 near Kansas City....The Mo. Dept of Conservation does consider this plant very invasive, and does not encourage its planting. You should find a person that wants to use their pond in the same way that you want to use yours...and see if they recommend it. Lotus will spread quickly to ALL parts of your pond that are less than 6 feet deep, and then will reach out each year another 10 to 20 feet. The leaves and blooms are really beautiful, but the stems have small prickly stickers all over them. That makes getting in the pond, even in a boat, very uninviting.
So, plant only if you are not going to use your pond for recreation, even fishing. You will find it VERY difficult to get rid of them once they are year! You will have to spray repeatly with chemicals that are very bad for your pond's ecosystem. OR you can manually cut off every leaf that comes up...wear sturdy, heavy gloves.
Not good for a garden pond as it does not bloom in normal 16 or 24 inch lotus pots. It also escapes it's pot regularly to invade your pond. I understand that it will bloom in a 48 inch pot....but you can't get that size out of your garden pond to tend it, so I have not tried it. Best used in a 5 to 10 foot stock tank sunk into the ground.

Neutral baylysmom On Dec 5, 2003, baylysmom wrote:

AMerican lotus leaves emerge in the early summer, some warmer places they will emerge in late spring and become suspended about 2-3 feet above the water. They bloom in summer and only hold the flowers for a short time. The seeds are produced in a lare distinctive fleshy receptacle which is yellow as the flower opens, then turns grees and later, dark brown. american lotus leaves, unlike other waterlillies, does not have a split or notched leaf.

Progation is simple. Take the hard seeds from the seed head when the pod turns brown and poke a hole in the seed and toss in water. The water the lotus prefers is still water that is not deeper that 6 feet. 4 feet deep is preferred. Wonderful plant that can be very difficult to control when it becomes established so be sure you want lotus before you throw seed. The flower is fabulous and worth seeding in non fishing lakes and ponds. Don't put in public waters. I have spent 5 years trying to control plants started by seed by a well meaning citizen. This was a park lake that was used for fishing.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Fresno, California
Newark, Delaware
Venice, Florida
Cottage Grove, Minnesota
Jackson, Mississippi
Kansas City, Missouri
Dundee, Ohio
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Pocahontas, Tennessee

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