Lotus/Kitty Litter

Carlsbad, NM(Zone 7b)

I have read where people are using kitty litter for planting lillies, but has anyone tried this with Lotus and does it work? I have three baby lotus due to arrive today and I'm unsure whether to go the old, dirt route or try the kitty litter. I would hate to lose the babies right from the get go.


Cicero, NY(Zone 5a)

I've heard of people planting in kittylitter,its just clay after all,just use one that doesent have all the fancy additives.Personally ,I just have mine in garden soil,it has a clay base to it.

Carlsbad, NM(Zone 7b)

Thanks, crestedchik:

I read a horror story on another forum about someone using kitty litter and the stuff swelling really bad and he had to re-pot everything. I've got a big pile of heavy loam that was dug out of an irrigation canal..I think I'll just use it as my lillies seem to be doing well in it.

Thanks again,

Northern Piedmont, NC(Zone 7b)

I too decided to stay away from kitty litter. I just use regular garden soil and top it off with a layer of sand. Noticed today that I have a bud on my seed grown lotus I started last spring!


Niles, MI(Zone 5a)

Watch the kitty litter for additives they can cause a lot of problems.
There is a product called Aquasoil, I got it at my local nursery, it's a ceramic gravel just for water plants. Doesn't float or soak up water. I have my lilies and cattails in it and they are great.

Hulbert, OK(Zone 7a)


(*Please see 2011 update further below*)

While I hate to drag such an old topic out of the closet,
I just wanted to mention that we have used kitty litter
just fine. Keep in mind, this is not just any old kitty litter,
it is specifically Special Kitty brand from Wal Mart in the
big red paper bag.

Hubby repots his lotus every spring with this same kitty
litter, and our lotus have thrived! Of course, as the litter
is not fertile, you must use fertilizer and such, but as a
potting medium, we could not ask for better short of spending
a small fortune on what is marketed as 'aquatic soil'.

Pot the plants, put them in the pond and leave them alone.

:-) KM

This message was edited Jun 20, 2011 7:47 PM

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 5a)

Hi KM,
Thanks for the info. Once the snow is finished, I am off to Wal Mart. I am going to try my hardy water lilies in it this season.
Thanks again,

(Zone 9a)

I have used both garden loam and the WM kitty litter successfully but I gave my neighbor a lily potted in the litty litter and his koi dug in the pot. I had covered the litter with river rocks but he has large and clever koi. The litter got all over the pond and really clogged up his, very expensive, filter. He was not happy.

Hulbert, OK(Zone 7a)

Ah, yes, not a good choice if you have naughty fish. Many people use the
kitty litter with great success, but if fish are present in the same pond as
the lotus or other plant with kitty litter, precautions are indeed in order.

I can't remember what some of the other pond lovers used to cover theirs,
it seems someone mentioned panty hose, but I'll have to see if I can find

:-) KM

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Take a look at this thread. In this thread, I posted on May 23, 2007, a simple way to keep koi from digging in pots. It works very well. Kittly litter does vary in consistency from manufacturer to manufacturer. The regional manufacturer for WM here is different from the one in other regions. Kittly litter purchased here does not perform in the same fashion as stuff bought at WMs in other parts of the country. However, even though a little soupy I think it is the best potting medium next to fresh dug clay. There isn't any dug clay available around here.

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)


Duh, forgot the link.

Annapolis, MD

Thanks for the post--it was timely as I was just trying to remember which of the cat litters folks used.

I'm going to try the Special Kitty from the Walmart here and see if this is the kind that stays gravelly or if it turns to mush! At $2.50/25lb. bag I'm not 'out' too much if it's the wrong kind. . .

Espoma also makes a product called 'Soil Perfector' that is nice and gravelly and which I really like for 'soil-free' planting. They used to sell the same product under the name 'Aquatic Soil Perfector--just for more $!


Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Meijers is a regional discount supermarket chain. Yesterday I used their generic brand kitty litter to repot the water lilys. It was the best stuff I've ever used. It actually made a good sticky clay when soaked. It wasn't at all soupy. When I submerged the tubs not a bit of clay clouded the water. I'm going back today to get some for future use. In my experience the generic kitty litters, even under the same brand name, can vary widely in their clay type and the process used to refine it. When you find a good one stock up! I also wire tied the green plastic fencing over the top of the tubs again to keep the koi from rooting in the clay. It's the only way I can grow potted water plants with large koi. Happy potting!


Annapolis, MD

Tried the Walmart 'Special Kitty' cat litter (no fragrance, red bag) but it's very fine and very powdery. The kids got to do a test run--a whole planting basket-full would make a mess in our water garden, so no luck with that one.

Did find that Espoma 'Soil Perfector' and 'Mole Block' are also options to use instead of the aquatic soils for the soil-free plantings.


Warren, OH(Zone 5b)

I wish I hadn't used the clay kittie litter. I fell head first into my pond yesterday and knocked over a pot and that stuff mucked up the bottom of my pond bad, where the way I used to do it with garden clay, it would have stayed in one lump, ugh............now I have to suck the water out and start over. ( and I'm telling you it was REALLY cold) lol. I have a liner so I don't want muck in my pond.

Thumbnail by guspuppy
(Zone 9a)

Yikes, are you OK? I'll bet it was cold and more than a bit slimy. Did Gorgeous Gus jump in to help?

The litter did not work for me at all and it really fouled a friends filter. I think it was mentioned in another thread that different plants supply WM and it seems some places produce better litter than others.

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

gaspuppy - A fall into the pond is no fun. Neither is sucking muck out.

ardesia - I have found that the quality and composition of 'generic kitty litters' to vary widely.
The type sold here at WM is unusable. Good thing it only cost me $2.35 a bag to find out and I had a hole to dispose of it in.

In this area the best kitty litter for potting is "Litter Guard" marketed by a local discount chain called Meijers. It is better than their store brand which, oddly, they no longer sell. "Litter Guard" is made by MFM Industries which is a subsidiary of Wavely Minerals.


Waverly Minerals mines bentonite / montmorillonite clay which is a highly desirable clay for koi.


(It's fun what you can dig up on the net !) Anyway this stuff is superior for pond plant use to any other product sold, including those marketed specifically as 'aquatic potting soil'. It actually forms a heavy sticky clay which does not float off, even when you first submerge the pot down into the water. It does not get soupy. You could make pottery bowls out of it.

The reason kitty litter varies so much is that national or regional chains buy from the lowest cost litter manufacturer/producer who packages it for them under the chain's own label. It could be any company. Shipping costs greatly influence total product cost. So the retailer is going to buy, by region, from whatever company can get it to their shelves the cheapest. There are all different kinds of clay. The generic litter sold in one region, even under the same brand name, is very unlikely to be the same as that sold in another region. Hence the product variation. The result is that you have to test the product yourself.

I slid into my pond last year and went completely under! Oh was that ever a nasty experience. But as long as I was already in there I made the most of it. I yelled for DH to get some cleaning equipment and the plant pruners and I got a lot done.

(Zone 9a)

Good information, I'll look for the Litter Guard. That clay is mined in the southeast so I should be able to find it somewhere.

I wonder if the absorbant materials on the Waverly site would work for water plants? The only thing I would question is if they add any other materials. There were 4 different products that seems to do the same thing but they had different names??????

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

I wish I had the answer to that. I know I tried an "oil dry" product, availabe at Home Depot, marketed for absorbing oil spills, which listed clay as its only ingredient and it was terrible. It never absorbed one drop of water although I let it sit in a tub overnight. My DH keeps it on hand for garage spills. Works OK for that, but water - not a drop. Go figure!

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 5a)

Thanks for the info.

I just purchased two bags of Special Kitty at Wal*Mart last night. I am going to repot my water lilies tonight. I will let you know how the SK litter sold in MN compares to what other's have said.

Thanks, again, for this great tip.

(Zone 9a)

Here's hoping you got the good stuff. I would mix a bit in a glass of water first and watch what it did before I went to the trouble of repotting and possibly fouling your pond water.

Athens, PA

Last year we had a terrible time with silt in the pond water. It was a while before we realized that it was the 'Aquasoil' that I had used to split and repot my waterlilies. Everything came out of the pond and was repotted in pea gravel that we washed off before planting the waterlilies. We then put egg rock on the top of the pea gravel to keep the koi from getting pea gravel all over the bottom of the pond.

I have been a little afraid of using kitty litter, although I have read good things for the most part from others and other forums. I would definitely 'test' the kitty litter before putting the whole potful of it into the pond.

Let us know how you make out.


Thumbnail by Carolyn22
(Tammie) Odessa, TX(Zone 7b)

wow.. those blooms are beautiful.. they are so perfect. I have only had one bloom so far this year. Just fertilized everything. so far, my fish leave the plants in the pots. don't know what will happen when they grow up.

Athens, PA


Thank you. They are from last year - I fertilize with the year long fertilizer spikes early in the year. I know if I had to do it every month, it probably wouldn't get done.

Typically I don't start to see flowers until early June, although my lily pads are coming. We have flowers right straight through from early June until late September, early October. Your's would probably start sooner and go later than mine with your zone 7b.

I'd love to see pictures of yours.


Thumbnail by Carolyn22
Columbia, MO(Zone 5b)

Did you just use the pea gravel in the whole pot or did it cover soil of some kind? I tried the wal-mart kitty litter and I think the stuff around here is the "mushy" kind.

(Tammie) Odessa, TX(Zone 7b)

My kitty litter turns to mush as soon as the water hits it but it works well and does not cloud the water.. it just settles into the pot. Worked great last year. I did a mix of potting soil and kitty litter for my lotus this year.. then pea gravel on top.. lotus is growing and now is on its second leaf.. I fried 2 lotus earlier this year.

Athens, PA


Not sure if you are asking me or Lhasa - I just use the rinsed pea gravel with no soil and the egg rock on the top. DH made a sieve from a new kitty litter pan. He took a small drill bit and put holes in the bottom of the pan to rinse the pea gravel - works very well.

I'd love to see everyones pictures of their lotuses and watelilies


Thumbnail by Carolyn22
(Tammie) Odessa, TX(Zone 7b)

wow, it appears the leaves.. lily pads.. are actually happy overlapping each other.. I thought it was a problem in my tiny pond. Here is a picture of my one bloom so far this year. The tears in the lilypads are from a short hail storm a few weeks ago..not much rain.. just some hail!

Thumbnail by LhasaLover
Mount Vernon, MO(Zone 6b)

I had my 1st waterlily bloom on Easter this year. I'll have to take some pictures for you guys.

Athens, PA


its' gorgeous! I do have all different colors - but my white is nowhere as nice as yours. Do you know the name of it?

I always thought with the overlapping lily pads it was better for the fish. The sun gets to be pretty strong in the middle of summer.


(Tammie) Odessa, TX(Zone 7b)

I would have to go back and figure out what I ordered last year.. this one came back after sitting in the bottom of my tiny pond all winter. I am amazed.. at least I think it is one that came back... I also bought a few this year and managed to kill several ... took everything out in the kitchen of friday night planning on potting the saturday... well mom got sick.. hospital, nearly died... (that was the short story.. mom is fine now)... I did not see my kitchen for 10 days and when I walked in, it was nothing but dead dried waterlilies and lotus. I ordered more and those are pottted and growing.

this is my 120 gallon pond..I am doing everything I can imagine to keep the water still on one end for the plants but I love the fountain effect from the watering can. I know lotus and lilies prefer still water.

Thumbnail by LhasaLover
Athens, PA


Very nice!

The important thing is that your mother is ok.


Hulbert, OK(Zone 7a)


What if you put a pot inside the 120 gallon pond with the lip
of the pot sticking up out of the water so your lotus can sit
still but the rest of the pond can dance with the fountain?

Finding something that will sink and live in water is the problem,

:-) KM

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Lhasa - your pond is so pretty! What a great idea to use a watering can for a fountain. Your very creative!


hi. i personally just stick to the loam soil for my lotus. please keep us informed on how this kitty litter does for your lotus im really curious??

Thumbnail by realsis
Hulbert, OK(Zone 7a)

Wow, I can't believe it has been three years since this thread.
An update from my point of view.

The kitty litter, while it served it's purpose in less bountiful
financial times, is, putting it mildy...a mucky mess. It holds, it
works, but is IS, a mucky mess.

I've gone back to standard soil for the most part, but am
checking out some other options. Our water lilies are simply
floating by themselves and blooming just fine, while others
are anchored with burlap bags and a weight in the bottom - a rock.

No doubt a few others have changed their ways. Any other input?


Thumbnail by WUVIE
Ocoee (W. Orlando), FL(Zone 9b)

I have used kitty litter in the past. I also used plain river rocks, the smooth ones about 2 to 3inches big. I found small containers at the Dollar Store that look like small 8 inch milk crates. Put the tuber in, growing tip up, and placed the rocks all around it. They bloom like crazy, no dirt at all, just nutrients from the fish emulsion au natural in the water. The fish can't get to the roots inside the basket, but keep the longer ones that stray outside it, picked off.
I've used pea gravel too, which works fine with the smaller holed water planter baskets, but if they tip over, it's harder to clean up. Some of my fish are around 24 inches, so that's a real possibility.

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