Water Lilies & Lotus
Care of Lotus and Water lilies
Lotus and water lilies need to be fertilized all growing season, April 15 through September. If you choose to use fertilizer tablets, 3 tablets in a two gallon pot or a lotus pot every 4 to 6 weeks will be enough. The tablet must be pushed down into the roots. Another option is fertilizer spikes. One large spike per lily and two per lotus will feed the plant all season as they are time released.
Placing Your Lily in the Pond
Lilies do best in 2 to 3 feet of water, but will tolerate anywhere from 1 to 4 feet of water depth. However, splashing water from a waterfall, spitter or fountain should not fall on water lily leaves.
Before putting your lilies in the pond you should consider using large rocks as a top dressing. Fish will take smaller rocks off, so using large rocks will protect the plants roots and planting media. Rocks about the size of a small egg will do. You can find this size rock by the bag at your local huge hardware store.
Choosing a Spot for Your Lotus
When choosing a spot for your lotus, consider a place where the water level is just above the rim of the pot. Your lotus should never go dry. This insures that water will always be in the pot (and the fish will be out!) If you need to elevate the pot, cinder blocks are NOT an option. Uncured concrete of any kind releases lime into the water and will raise your pH to potentially dangerous levels. We have terra cotta flue pipes or milk crates that are ideal for elevating plants of any kind. They will also serve as a hiding place for your fish if a predator comes calling!
What to do in the Fall
As our season winds down, all plants should be cut back. Decaying plant matter or leaves from trees can in a sense poison your pond water. All pond plant material should be composted if possible.
Cutting back Lotus
You will need to cut back the lotus leaves during the season or certainly at the end of the season. Because the stems are hollow, cutting the stem below the water level can be harmful, as bacteria can easily enter the tuber. Be sure to make any cuts above the water.
If you are like us and want to wait until the last minute to cut back your water lily (we have seen them bloom on Christmas Day), no problem. When you do, try to get all of the stems you can.
Waking up in the Spring
Wait until after April 15 to fertilize anything, including your water lilies. Your lotus will begin waking up with leaves that float on the water’s surface. The plant is not ready for fertilizer until it has at least one leaf in the air.