Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Sacred Water Lily, Lotus
Nelumbo nucifera

Family: Nelumbonaceae
Genus: Nelumbo (nee-LUM-bo) (Info)
Species: nucifera (noo-SIFF-er-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Nelumbium nelumbo
Synonym:Nelumbo speciosa
Synonym:Nelumbium speciosum

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

39 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Ponds and Aquatics

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

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:
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

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:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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4 positives
5 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral coriaceous On Dec 7, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

An extravagantly beautiful plant, both in its flowers and its immense blue-green leaves. Its pristine beauty emerging from the mud is a staple of Asian art and spiritual iconography.

This species spreads aggressively/invasively and once going can easily take over a water feature or shallow pond.

All forms love full sun and hot summers. Bloom is poor in part shade. This is a big plant that needs lots of room.

Native to southern and east Asia and to Queensland, Australia. Most of the forms/cultivars in commerce come from the tropical end of this species' range. Few are hardy below Z7, except for a few hybrids with the much hardier N. American N. lutea like the popular 'Mrs. Perry Slocum'. Tubers can be harvested and overwintered indoors where not hardy.

Botanists now consider the very hardy Siberian N. komarovii to be a northern population of N. nucifera, and it can be considered a synonym. Rare in cultivation, though available in commerce.

There are dwarf forms more suitable than the species for growing in tubs.

Neutral Scarborshannon On Dec 7, 2014, Scarborshannon from Las Vegas, NV (Zone 9a) wrote:

Can I grow this under a grow bulb indoors? In a glass container?

Neutral merrybp On Oct 3, 2011, merrybp from New Smyrna Beach, FL wrote:

I'm not familiar with this plant but wanted to know if it is invasive in ponds?

Positive eliasastro On Jul 12, 2008, eliasastro from Athens
Greece (Zone 10a) wrote:

These tropical "monsters" love our very hot summer (avg. temp. 80F).
Just one month after sowing they grew the first aerial leaves! (it is usually the 6th leave). I read that after the first 4 leaves the plants need some time (of growth of the tuber) before the next leave to grow, but in my case they continued growing new leaves!

Positive KorgBoy On Nov 22, 2007, KorgBoy from Townsville
Australia wrote:

This plant is extremely easy to grow from seed in tropical areas. The seed can sprout in about 3 to 4 days when kept in warm water, and it grows very fast. The seed may sometimes take longer to sprout, such as 7 days or more, depending on the behavior of the seed.

It's best to wait until the seed pod is really matured before you pick the pod and attempt to grow from seed. The signs of a mature pod is a brown pod with plump gray-black or tan colored seeds. The viable seeds are usually nice and plump, while the inviable ones are skinny or shriveled up. You can also use the plump gray-black or tan colored seeds from matured pods that are still a bit green but are just about to dry out.

I just rub the middle portion of the seed on sand paper (or a metal file), and keep sanding until I see a little bit of white color. The point of scouring away a part of the hard seed coat is to allow water to get into the seed, otherwise the seed could take a really long time to sprout.

Then just fill up a clear plastic or glass jar or container (such as a take-away container) with warm tap water and pop the seeds into the water. Chances are that many of the seeds will float on the surface, and this is just fine, since there's air pockets inside the seed in the first place. Just as long as the scraped part of the seed is in contact with water, then it's fine. Some seeds will sink, and this is just fine too. The seeds like a lot of warmth, so I put the container on the external warm surface of a home refrigerator. I change the water every day so that bacteria doesn't build up in the water. Then just wait for the seeds to sprout. A sign that things are going well is that the seed gradually expand as it absorbs water, and becomes much larger than it was originally (when it was dry).

Once sprouted, I just plant the seed into the soil in a pond, making sure that the shoot is underwater. The sprout will just keep growing toward the surface of the water, and will open its first leaf when it reaches the surface. Full sun is best for these plants.

Neutral Kell On Oct 19, 2006, Kell from Northern California, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

The day blooming flowers grow from 9 to 12 inches across and last for 3 days, closing every night preferably on a beetle inside whom is busy pollinating it. The flower stamen is reported to be the most potent for its medicinal value.

Positive Pameladragon On Jul 21, 2004, Pameladragon from Appomattox, VA wrote:

This lotus is very easy to grow, almost too easy! If you plant it in an earthen pond it may take over and start colonizing the banks. However, ducks and geese will eat it.

I grow it in a half barrel and it blooms reliably. The tub should be half full of good garden soil and kept filled to the top with water. Annual fertilizing is a good idea. Use water lily tabs pushed down into the soil.

The stems and leaves have short spines and they can cause painful abrasions if handled carelessly.

The seeds and tuber are edible and used in chinese and other far eastern cuisine.

The seed heads are very ornamental and look wonderful in flower arrangements or in wreaths. As the stems are sometimes very brittle it is a good idea to wire the pods.

This is a wonderful plant for large ponds or can be grown in a tub on a patio. The flowers are spectacular.

Positive Wingnut On Jun 26, 2004, Wingnut from Spicewood, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

These plants LOVE THE HEAT!!! About two months ago, I started twenty seeds from dried pods from the dried flower section of a craft store . I already have numerous aerial leaves on half of them and I think it's due to them being in black pots in FULL sun and fertilized at planting with fruit tree spikes.

Neutral smiln32 On May 10, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Origin: Australia - Aquatic plant which holds its large (around 1') velvety green leaves about 3 or more feet above the water. Goes dormant in the cold months and require water temperatures in the 75-85 F for 2 months to prosper.


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

Union Grove, Alabama
Vincent, Alabama
Panama City Beach, Florida
Osage City, Kansas
New Orleans, Louisiana
Silver Spring, Maryland
Carriere, Mississippi
Piscataway, New Jersey
Brooklyn, New York
Beaufort, North Carolina
Dudley, North Carolina
Kernersville, North Carolina
Oxford, North Carolina
Cleveland, Ohio
Sandusky, Ohio
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Santa Fe, Texas
Spicewood, Texas
Appomattox, Virginia
Clifton Forge, Virginia
Seattle, Washington

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