Floating Lotus Planter

   I've been thinking about this for a long time, a floating lotus planter. I know you can just plant them next to your pond but wouldn't it be great to have a lotus centered in you pond, it would draw as much attention as the fish, water fall or whatever other kind of junk you've come up with. This is not limited to growing a lotus in your pond, you can choose whatever plant you like, my choice was a lotus.

  Here we go, I used an 18 gallon tub from Home Depot and removed the rope handles, hope your knife is sharper than my pocket knife, those cords are tough. I didn't bother to scuff up the tub or anything, actually mine has been around here for a while. I got 2 cans of great stuff foam, not sure how much it will take but I hate shopping so I got 2 while at the store. I turned the tub upside down on a post and just started foaming around the rim, this crap sticks like crazy so don't worry about it falling off. You may want to put some plastic gloves on when doing this, it is almost impossible to get it off of anything it touches including your hands. Around and around I went till the first can was empty. I'll worry about the cosmetics after I get the thing to float, think positive. My thoughts are that even filled 3/4 of the way with compost it will float easily, I don't want it sticking up way out of the water, but I have been wrong before. I picked up 100 pounds of cow compost while at the store, 2 -50 pound bags, this should be plenty to fill the container 3/4 of the way. Here is the first picture. It's sitting on my arbor to keep the cats from getting stuck to it while it dries, damn cats.

  Let me tell you what I know about the foam, I've used it for a number of projects from rocks (it stinks as rocks, they will float away in a rain storm never to be seen again) to floating islands. It is extremely durable and even unpainted in the sun it take years to fade away, will probably out last that container, but I didn't want to toss a lot of cash into a pond container for the first one. I've also noticed that the foam floating islands pick up seeds and growth starts on its own, the one in my pond somehow got a large fern plant started on it, no where in the yard is this type of fern so who knows, but it's pretty cool. The only problem with a floating island is that as the plants grow they get top heavy, this should be no problem with the lotus planter, since most of it will be below the water level and very heavy at the bottom. This all sound great in theory doesn't it. Keep your fingers crossed.

  Within an hour the first coat was dry to the touch, on to the second and final coat of foam. I wanted the foam to look like larger rocks so with the tub sitting upright I started adding clumps of foam. When you first put this on it will look very rough and uneven but as it expands it will smooth out into nice size clumps to be painted as rocks. A word of warning here, if a big clump of wet foam wants to fall off, just let it, it will be the biggest mistake of the day if you try to catch it some how. I have been checking on paints and it looks like Kraylon brand for plastic is what I'll be using, I already know it's nontoxic since many pond builders us it on plastic they want to hide in the ponds. I'll have to check it out on some of the scrap pieces of foam to see how it reacts.

  These pictures are right after I put the second coat on. Later you'll see how it smooths out and grows into nice shaped rocks. I did this in my stone fire pit, I may show a page on how I made that later, they are really nice on a chilly evening. Not only that but if your are unhappy with the neighbors you can always toss green leafs on the hot embers when the wind is blowing their way and if you really hate them toss the used filter batting from your fish filters in the pit full of fish poop. The whole neighborhood will turn on you with torches and clubs. Most unpleasant to say the least, just a thought, lol, been there done that.

  I know what you are thinking, my mystic power again, but after these finish swelling up over night and are trimmed down you'll start to see it coming to life as rocks even before it's painted. Pretty confided aren't I. Well I've seen a skeleton of pvc pipe and sheet foam turn into water falls, foam boxes turn into stone boulders, sand turn into stepping stones and I've always gotten that look from others that you are giving me right now, so just hang in there.

  I'm thinking of 2 colors for the faux rock look, black and light brown, but may change my mind when I see what other colors are available. The fake stone paint is very expensive and I don't think it looks any better than auto trunk splatter paint, probably the same thing at 4 times the cost. Wish I would of gotten the paint when I went for the foam but I was in a hurry to get home and play with this, aah, I mean work. I hate shopping, the stuff I want is never in the right place in the store, idiots. I think I'll also pick up a couple bags of rocks, I can always use them and it will be a lot safer to test this thing with bagged rock rather than compost.

  I have let the planter foam dry over night, you can see how much the foam has swelled up. Starting to look like rocks? I'll let them cure for a couple days before doing the trimming. When i trim I'll cut off any excess that is hanging much lower than the rest to keep this thing floating level, although with the weight of the compost I don't think it would make much difference. The foam is closed cell so even the cut off areas won't get water logged. I'll also remove any small or lose edges that might get mistaken for food by the koi.

  The only spray paint that I've found that works without melting the foam is "Krylon H2o Latex Spray Paint" if the can doesn't have the large H2o on the label it's the wrong stuff. You can pick this up at any craft store. After you get the first coat on you can use regular Krylon, lot cheaper. You can also use any latex paint even exterior house paint, if you got it, use it. Light coats will dry faster than a heavy coat. Try using more than one color and blending it to get a dark to light surface on some of the stones. I'll also brush in some of the area between the rocks. Keep in mind that even a rough job won't matter much when the lotus is large and blooming, very few people will pay much attention to it, except to ask where you got it from. I think this is coming along great, I can already picture the finished planter, although a few of the pictures in my head see it sitting on the bottom of the pond, lol.

  Here is the results of putting this thing in water filling it up and adding 80 pounds of rocks, even if I had a plan it couldn't of turned out better. I added a third bag of rock to sink this planter and make sure the foam wouldn't snap off from the pressure, not a speck came lose, so I am considering it a success. The height out of the water can be adjusted by how much compost you put in, if you want it lower you can also add some heavy stones right on top of the soil, lotus pull themselves to the bottom so this would be no problem. Lotus only like to be in 6 to 8 inches of water. I have drilled some 1/2" holes just below the foam so it will keep itself full of water. I'll also drill a couple of smaller holes for tether ropes, if you have a water fall you don't want this thing filled with about a hundred pounds of compost drifting under the falls and being washed out into your pond. You could just fasten it to a block for an anchor but I like the idea of being able to pull it in from the center of the pond if needed. As soon as it dries I'll be ready to make the final snips and start painting.

  After the rock painting and the tub is painted black it will really change the look, be sure to come back in a couple days to see the finished planter. To me it won't be done without a massive lotus growing in it centered in the middle of my pond. Even a surface of duck weed will probably add a lot until the lotus takes some size and blocks the sun from it. If you like this project so far start gathering up the junk you'll need, I probably won't ever have the time to make these to offer to customers, so you are pretty much on your own. I'll figure up the cost of everything later and post it here, you'll have a list of what you need and some Idea of cost, but it was fairly inexpensive.

  At this point I turned the planter upside down on a trash can and painted the lower rocks with the H2o paint, while still on the trash can I sprayed the container with Krylon black, I used glossy but it doesn't really matter, not only will this help hide the tub, it will also block the UV and make the tub hold up better. After it dried I flipped it over and continued with the top of the rocks and the inside of the container. I didn't spend a lot of time painting, in a couple months this will weather in and look more natural. This will all look a lot more natural and like stone after it it floated and filled with soil, even better when the lotus is growing. I'll attach the tether lines and as soon as the weather warms a little and have it in the pond. I'm going to use a green lotus "Morning Mist", it's a mid size lotus and should do very good in this size container. I already have the huge "Sunburst" growing in a planter next to the pond so this will add some more color.

  Here you can see the tether lines attached and the planter in the pond. Not to worry, the lines won't stay white long. In the second picture it is partially filled with 50 pounds of compost. I'll let that settle for a day and finish filling it to the desired depth of about 6" to 8" of water over the compost. Compost tend to swell a lot when it is covered with water, so keep this in mind when you fill yours. I'll be digging the lotus tuber I want in this and get it started. I changed my mind on the lotus and am going to use a Lavender Lady lotus.

  I have finished filling the planter with compost. The second picture is of the Lavender Lady tub that I dumped out and washed the compost off the tubers, I'll separate them up and choose a tuber for the planter. If you are somewhere choosing a lotus tuber, don't just go for the largest, it won't make any difference to the size of the plant, choose one that has a number of growing tip, you'll get faster growth and more pads and flowers earlier. I'll just float the tuber right in the planter until it has some pads floating, then I'll push it down to the surface of the compost and set a rock on it. As it roots in it will pull itself down to the bottom of the planter. When this gets some grow and later with blooms I'll post some more pictures so check back. Another great thing about a floating planter is you can rotate it for an even growth in the sun or even move it to get more sun as the season goes on. Take care and enjoy.

 In this hobby only bad things happen fast.

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