Imagine, if you will, a picture...you're sitting comfortably on a jet, traveling first class, gliding smoothly over distant lands as your airship rides tropical trade winds. Out the window, down below, you see a mystical green sea dotted with tiny green tropical islands tasseled with golden clouds. In reality, what you are witnessing is heaven on earth, if you entertain such things.
This mystical moment is brought to you by Nelumbo nucifera also commonly known as Sacred Lotus. Indian Lotus, or Chinese Lotus. This spellbinding bloom is considered to be the Buddhist symbol of purity, enlightenment, and self-awareness. In bloom, flowers are so mysteriously elegant, so divinely fragrant; floating above luxurious foliage like a floral cloudburst of beauty, they elicit a state of calm in those that witness their powerful purity first-hand. Nelumbo nucifera comes to us from Asia, India, and Australia. It is an aquatic perennial plant that grows from tuberous roots anywhere from 6 inches to several feet below water. Its flower is one of the most coveted in the world. Not only that...one of these plants can live for up to 1000 years!
Nelumbo nucifera like to grow in still water and sprout only when water temperature warms. This usually happens late spring/early summer. They send up big, bold, super-cool, tropical umbrella-like foliage that can measure up to 2 feet across and stand 2 to 6 feet above the water's surface. Once summer kicks in, plump flower buds rise up to unfurl delicate petals surrounding an otherworldly seed pod that eventually dries into an intriguingly striking structure. Flowers can open up to an impressive 12 inches wide. Their fragrance is unlike any other floral scent. The essence is pleasurably sweet and fruity; lusciously intoxicating.
Nelumbo nucifera like full sun to part sun situations, grow best in planting baskets submerged in water, and should be protected from waters that freeze in winter. In areas that freeze, when the weather gets colder, the foliage has dried, stop growing, and been cut back, pull baskets from water gardens and store in a cool dry place until spring. Also, to grow new tubers in baskets, first allow tubers to root in water in late spring, then plant in baskets with water garden medium before placing them underwater for summer growth. Provide plants with an aquatic plant fertilizer during growth for maximum magnificence.
Whether grown in a water garden, container water garden, or suspended in a vase, Nelumbo nucifera is truly a floral luxury. Its presence is truly a gift from nature that must be experienced in a lifetime. Once experienced you will know the meaning of heaven on earth!