Nelumbo lutea/American Lotus + fruit bin project
Posted 13 April 2014 - 09:13 PM
I broke dormancy with my American Lotus tubers early (Feb 25th) this year in inside-the-house water-only tubs. It's been a mild winter here (south Central Valley, CA) since our citrus crop destroying hard freeze last Dec.
The tubers started sending shoots out of the tips within just a few days inside the house, and I planted them into containers after two weeks in the clean water bath.
The containers are 8 gallon plastic pots (no holes) and 20 gallon whiskey barrel liners. Filled 2/3 full with a mixture of 50% sandy loam/clay and 50% of the cheapest topsoil I could find at Lowes. This is capped with about an inch of creek sand. Water depth is 6-8" deep.
I set the containers in the sun and sunk the tubers into the sand cap. The first two weeks they were outside, it was in the 70's and 80's. The shoots practically exploded once in the sun and soil. After four days, every tuber had sent up at least two surface pads, started forming root clusters and a few had branched into multiple runners.
After 3-1/2 in the outdoor containers, every tuber had produced long runners, big root knots and several surface pads. Growth slowed a bit for a week and a half as a few cold fronts blew through. Oddly, the pots with only two pads developed some green water, while those with three or more remained crystal clear.
After 6 weeks, the weather has heated up again, lots of surface pads coming up, and a few days ago I noticed some tips coming through the surface. These are the first aerial pads.
I scooped some gambusia out of an irrigation ditch siphon (a sad little ecosystem...) and added 3-4 per pot for mosquito control.
Once the average air temps are a bit higher (end of May), the plan is to line a couple 4'x4'x2' tall (240 gallons) solid plywood fruit bins with either a Herculiner (polyurethane) or RockSolid diy polyurea coating inside. Both with stay flexible with decent elongation. I'd use epoxy and fiberglass, but I'm not going to reinforce these bins and they -will- flex some when filled with water. I've read that the diy polyurea coating has a very short pot life (15-20 minutes) and that Herculiner at the other end of the spectrum takes forever to cure.
Nice thing about fruit bins is that they are common as dirt here in ag-land, and cheap. $20 used for plain wood - $30 for a steel edged bin. If I coat the outside of the bins with clear poly, they'll probably even look nice.
Once the bins are lined and filled with water the lotus containers will go into them, along with assorted lotus friendly water critters. By the end of May the average water temp in the wood bins (240 gallons should be pretty temp stable, and plywood insulates) ought to be well above 72-74f. Right now, water temp in the pots (black and dark blue) is getting up to the low 80's during the day.
A typical dormant Nelumbo Lutea tuber with tips (not my pic), I soak mine inside until the shoots are 6"-12" before planting:
Tubers after only 4 days in the sand capped mud:
Today - 6 weeks:
041314-nlutea-1.jpg (1st pic of the "6 weeks" group) four hours later. Aerial pad has unfurled:
Wooden fruit bins:
Posted 14 April 2014 - 11:59 AM
Posted 14 April 2014 - 12:36 PM
Posted 14 April 2014 - 08:29 PM
Posted 14 April 2014 - 11:27 PM
I, too, have tried growing N. lutea from seed... many, many times. Scarifying and soaking in daily changed water, I've gotten them to sprout, send up stems and pop three or four tiny floating pads. Success! Then- they sat and did nothing for 3 months and just died, or were eaten by rogue water snails, or birds, or the dog, or raccoons, you name it. I tried from seed six or seven years running. It's very humbling not to be able to grow a plant that is nearly impossible to kill once established. And the seeds are said to remain viable for hundreds, if not thousands of years (carbon dating verified 1300 year old seeds have germinated successfully).
My wife rolled her eyes every time I mentioned growing lotus from seed over those years. She called lotus grown from seed my "white whale".
This year I've been too busy to have any time to go through the daily routine with the seeds, so I gave up and just bought dormant tubers.
I've grown N. nucifera from tubers several times in the past, but was stuck in the mind set of "N. lutea = native, must collect seeds, germinate, grow successfully, shake fist in the air triumphantly...". Funny, because my aquarium mantra has been "easy, easy, low or no upkeep required".
I've tried to collect wild tubers, but it needs to be done in the late fall or winter, and you absolutely cannot knock any of the fragile growing tips off of the tuber will just rot. Slogging around in 35 degree water and rooting through two feet of mud doesn't have the appeal it once did.
Posted 15 April 2014 - 12:28 PM
Posted 21 April 2014 - 02:34 PM
Pacific tree frog.
One of several singing males that have recently discovered the lotus pots.
Posted 21 April 2014 - 05:02 PM
Posted 22 April 2014 - 08:43 AM
Posted 29 April 2014 - 03:00 PM
If you build it, they will come...
...and get busy.
Noticed these this morning:
2 months in and most of the new growth is aerial leaves. The biggest are 14" across, so far.
Posted 30 April 2014 - 09:06 AM
Posted 01 May 2014 - 01:04 AM
Posted 14 May 2014 - 05:59 PM
Some flower pod stalks shot up last weekend. I am constantly amazed at how fast the various stalks and shoots have grown. There was no sign of any flower pods Thursday evening, and by Sunday morning there were six. Nothing has bloomed yet, but the flower pods are getting fatter.
Posted 15 May 2014 - 10:43 AM
Posted 16 July 2015 - 04:51 PM
How did these overwinter?
Does anyone know another source for tubers? The site linked in an earlier post is sold out, and seems to have specialty varieties - I have my doubts about their cold-hardiness in my northern winters if they've been inbred for color.
Posted 08 March 2016 - 02:27 AM
Overwintering through the 2014 winter in the CA central valley was no problem. The tubs had a layer of ice a couple nights in the morning, but it doesn't get cold enough to freeze much more than a 1/4" layer here.
Year two foliage was similar to year one, but you could tell the soil was burning out toward the end of the 2015 growing season.
After this last winter, just last month, I netted out all the gambusia living in the barrels, moved them to a temporary tub, and dumped the barrels out. There were only about a half a dozen full sized tubers per barrel, plus a bunch of smaller tuberettes with growing tips. I cleaned them off and cut them loose from the root mass. There wasn't much dirt left, mostly roots.
This year I finally tracked down a couple used fruit bins that were in good shape. They are reinforced 5/8" plywood boxes, 4x4 feet by two feet tall. These particular bins are raisin bins, with steel channel along the top edges and stout corner reinforcing blocks.
I glassed and epoxied all the seams and joints, there is no joint movement. Then I sealed the interior wood with epoxy (using a squeegie/spreader). After that, I gave it a light sanding and a thick coat of black liquid EPDM rubber. One bulkhead fitting in the bottom for a drain, when necessarry. The outside will get a couple coats of poly. In progress shots below.
Two bins in progress:
Bin inside. Raw plywood, stout corner brace, metal top channel:
Glassed, EPDM coated. Ready to fill.
Posted 08 March 2016 - 04:53 PM
Very cool! I've long wanted to grow lotus in my pond, so it is awesome seeing your success!
Posted 21 March 2016 - 04:21 AM
I was certain I'd had the same experience with the seeds, never seeing more than the four embryonic leaves, but yesterday I was rooting through the pots in my little pond for wapato tubers and I found this!
Posted 11 May 2018 - 10:44 PM
Four years later:
Fiurst coat of epdm rubber never cured right and I ended up scrubbing out the flakes and using "LiquidRubber" brand liquid rubber. 4 thick coats over two weeks, the a week to cure. No leaks.
Lotus in 3 big barrel liner pots, a small planter with some unknown Marsilea species, water hyacinth, water lettuce, cat-tails. Flagfish and gambusia for now.
This small lotus project, apparently, has been the catalyst in the re-population of Pacific Chorus Frogs with a few miles of the house. When I first set up the lotus pots, two lonely, sad looking tree frogs got busy and -poof- 50-60 tadpoles. Those in turn bred in the other tubs and later the ag bins. Their offspring have expanded out around the house and downstream in the small irrigation canal. There are tens of thousands now. Spring nights used to be silent, except for the occasional tree frog gulping bull frog in the canal (my guess is that the bull frogs decimated the tree frogs along the canal). A few nights ago, standing in the driveway, I measured 56db average background level. A blanket of white noise from all the frogs. The level at "quiet time" (about 6:30 am) is typical rural silent 18-19db.
You can't see them, but there are about 2 dozen tree frogs hidden in the aquatic foliage.
Still water-tight, still tree frog breeding heaven. Just about time to cull hyacinth, again.
Posted 12 May 2018 - 07:33 AM
Thanks for the update Rick, I loved this project from the beginning and glad that you are so successful with your containers.
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