This is the lesson we learned on our grounds at Southern Living. In order to contain run-off, we built a nice retention pond about 40 feet long and 30 feet wide. Our Fearless Leader opined that lotus plants would look pretty planted in the pond, so we planted 5 plants. By the end of the first summer, we could no longer see the water.
Lotus, in case you don’t know, is one of the two showiest plants for growing in water gardens, the other being water lily. There are two kinds of lotus, American lotus (Nelumbo luteum) and Chinese lotus (Nelumbo nelumbo). They both feature huge, rounded leaves that lift out of the water and also perforated, woody seedpods that rattle when the seeds are ripe. The former species boasts light-yellow blossoms, while the latter’s flowers can be pink, white, or deep rose.
Both plants are hardy throughout the South. If they escape from gardens into the wild they can become major pests, as they’ll invade waterways and clog them to the brim. This is why if you like lotus, you must plant them in pots with solid bottoms before setting them into the water, so that their roots can’t escape. Of course, since they produce lots of seeds, you’ll still get seedlings anyway.
The Grump’s advice – don’t plant lotus in any body of water that has a mud bottom and is too big to keep lotus from taking over. Or your pond will look like ours.
P.S. For your horto-terrorrists out there who LOVE pretty flowers and DISDAIN the well-bring of our natural environment, a good source for lotus is Lilypons Water Gardens (www.lilypons.com). Go ahead, destroy the world. See if I care.