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Nelumbo lutea/American Lotus + fruit bin project


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#1 Guest_rickwrench_*

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Posted 13 April 2014 - 09:13 PM

Trying something new this year, since I don't expect to have much free time for a few months...
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:
http://farm3.static...._ebe60a8a18.jpg

Tubers after only 4 days in the sand capped mud:
http://www.rickwrenc...14-nlutea-1.jpg
http://www.rickwrenc...14-nlutea-2.jpg
http://www.rickwrenc...14-nlutea-3.jpg
http://www.rickwrenc...14-nlutea-4.jpg

3-1/2 weeks:
http://www.rickwrenc...14-nlutea-1.jpg
http://www.rickwrenc...14-nlutea-2.jpg
http://www.rickwrenc...14-nlutea-3.jpg
http://www.rickwrenc...14-nlutea-4.jpg
http://www.rickwrenc...14-nlutea-5.jpg

Today - 6 weeks:
http://www.rickwrenc...14-nlutea-1.jpg
http://www.rickwrenc...14-nlutea-2.jpg
http://www.rickwrenc...14-nlutea-3.jpg

041314-nlutea-1.jpg (1st pic of the "6 weeks" group) four hours later. Aerial pad has unfurled:
http://www.rickwrenc...14-nlutea-4.jpg

Wooden fruit bins:
http://www.iwiproduc.../logo-boxes.jpg

Rick

#2 Guest_smbass_*

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 11:59 AM

Where did you get the tubers to begin with? I would like to have some of these plants in my ponds and have tried growing them from seed without success. I get them to sprout but they always die shortly after. Maybe I just need to start from tubers instead...

#3 Guest_Skipjack_*

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 12:36 PM

horse shoe lake in southern Illinois is full of them. Quite a hike for lotus though.

#4 Guest_smbass_*

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 08:29 PM

They can be found in some Ohio Reservoirs, particularly Tappan Lake is full of them. Also grow in some of the Hebron state fish hatchery ponds where I used to work. That is where I collected seeds and tried to dig up some roots but never got them to grow. The seeds would sprout and then just die a week or two later.

#5 Guest_rickwrench_*

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 11:27 PM

I got the N. lutea tubers from "Texas Water Lillies" (http://texaswaterlil...sorderpage.html). the tubers were $20 each, but I think that's a decent price. It's getting very late in the spring to get tubers, especially in Texas.

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.

Rick

#6 Guest_smbass_*

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 12:28 PM

Thanks, this is good info. I guess I should give up on the seeds too and might just have to buy a few tubers. It is still early for much growing in Ohio, things are starting but we did get about an inch of snow this morning! Not unheard of for Ohio but this is a pretty late in the year snow fall.

#7 Guest_rickwrench_*

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Posted 21 April 2014 - 02:34 PM

If you build it, they will come...

Pacific tree frog.
One of several singing males that have recently discovered the lotus pots.

Posted Image

Rick

#8 Guest_wispfox_*

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Posted 21 April 2014 - 05:02 PM

No amphibians come to my pond on their own! I bet my neighbors use chemicals on their lawns... :(

#9 Guest_smbass_*

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 08:43 AM

Very nice, I absolutely love hearing all the calling frogs at my ponds each spring. First year I had just American toads, next year a few green frogs and spring peepers. By the third or fourth year I had pretty much every species in my area all calling from my backyard at the appropriate time of year. My favorite are the gray tree frogs after a good late spring/early summer thunderstorm they really get going. I have also been impressed at just how early in the year and how cold of nights I can hear the woods frogs calling they have been done for about 2 weeks already for this year and we are in prime spring peeper and leopard frog time right now with the start of the American toad season. The frogs and tadpoles provide endless entertainment for my 4 year old daughter, she loves going out at night and listening and hunting down the peepers the last 2 weeks. Fun to put a few in a critter cage in her room for the night and watch our cats go nuts trying to figure out where the noise is coming from...

#10 Guest_rickwrench_*

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Posted 29 April 2014 - 03:00 PM

If you build it, they will come...


...and get busy.

Noticed these this morning:

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2 months in and most of the new growth is aerial leaves. The biggest are 14" across, so far.

Posted Image


Rick

#11 Guest_smbass_*

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 09:06 AM

Looking very nice! very cool to see the little tadpoles. Did you hear any other frogs calling or are they pretty much for sure the result of those Pacific Tree Frogs?

#12 Guest_rickwrench_*

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 01:04 AM

Definitely Pacific Tree/Chorus Frogs. There are about half a dozen ribbeting away out there right now.

Rick

#13 Guest_rickwrench_*

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 05:59 PM

The few gambusia I tossed into the pots initially have been doing well. Lots of fry. Several more frog egg clusters are visible as well.

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 Image

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Rick

#14 Guest_WyRenegade_*

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 10:43 AM

Those look like they are doing quite nicely for you - love that they are attracting the frogs.

#15 gzeiger

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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.



#16 rickwrench

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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:

 

two-bins.jpg

 

 

Bin inside. Raw plywood, stout corner brace, metal top channel:

 

bin-before.jpg

 

Glassed, EPDM coated. Ready to fill.

 

bin-after.jpg

 

Rick



#17 Yeahson421

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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!


3,000-4,000 Gallon Pond Full of all sorts of spawning fishes! http://forum.nanfa.org/index.php/topic/13811-3560-gallon-native-fish-pond/page-3 

 


#18 gzeiger

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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!

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