Divide Your Lotus


  If your lotus has been in a container for a few years it's time to divide the tubers, your lotus will reward you for the added room, plus you'll have a number of tubers to sell, give away, plant or even eat. You can only divide lotus after they have gone dormant and all the leaves have turned brown. If your original lotus is a named plant you can offer these as the same lotus. If you started from seeds, who knows what you'll end up with, they don't grow true from seed. If that's the case, just have pictures of the plant and blooms when you offer these. Not everyone wants to be the same and I've found that a nice large no named lotus with a good bloom is often more desirable than the named. The tubers from the seed plant you have will be the same plant from it's tubers. I have to reread this later, that even confused me.

  This will be a messy job and will take a morning to do, but there is really nothing to it. The above lotus was only in this container 1 season, but I wanted to move it to a new location and the plastic barrel I have it in would not take the stress fully loaded with water and soil. Even after just 1 season I ended up with 16 large tubers that will be offered for sale and 58 smaller tubers that will be planted and sold as plants in a few months. I find no difference  in starting with large or small tubers when growing plants, but customers will be much happier with a large tuber. This is a Sun Burst lotus and the container is rather small for that large of lotus, a smaller growing plant will be going back in there. Actually I'm not really sure of that, the new plant was started from imported seed.

  You are going to find that the lotus has pulled itself down to the bottom of the container. I scoop off as much of the soil as I can, then tip the container on it's side and finish rinsing out as much soil as I can with a hose. They are rather fragile, but it will still take a stream of water to do this.

  I just lifted the mass of tubers and roots out of the container, you can also just turn the container upside down and dump them out. I go back with the hose and continue to wash away as much dirt as I can. At that point I just start cutting away the white thin connecting roots between the tubers, you'll want to leave a little of the connecting root at each tuber, separating the small tubers and large into separate piles, you are going to be shocked at the number of them. Soft or damaged tubers are discarded.

  Here is the pile of tubers that came from that 1 container after only 1 season, about 75 of them. All of the smaller tubers will be planted here and offered as growing plants, the larger will be sold to mail order customers. Your customers will be pleased with the larger and as I said earlier, it makes no difference to start plants from the smaller, you'll end up with the same great plant the first season.

  For the time being I just float the tubers in shallow water, of coarse I'm in zone 10, so you may have to take these in to avoid frost depending on where you are. If you are storing these away for some time you can put them in a card board box and cover them with lightly damp sawdust or peat moss. I like a card board box better than plastic, so that they don't become to wet if some of the moisture from the saw dust settles to the bottom. Keep this container in a cool place. You can wrap them for shipping ahead of time if you are planing on sending them out in the near future. I think it's better to package in damp newspaper rather than peat or saw dust for shipping, I just wrap them carefully in 3 or 4 sheets of damp paper and store them away. When it's time to ship I place the tuber and paper in a plastic bag, wrap that in dry newspaper and slide the whole thing into the shipping box along with paper wadded up for padding. Be careful not to break the growing tips, they won't grow back and the tuber will rot instead of growing when planted. That's about all there is to it.

If you are going to replant some, you can wait for warmer weather or plant them in smaller starter containers at this time for transplant later. I find the easiest way is the best. Prepare your contain so it will have an inch or two of water over the surface of the soil, just sit the tuber on the soil surface with the growing tips sticking up. I place a flat rock on the middle of the tuber to keep it from floating and just sit back and watch it grow. You can remove the stone in a couple weeks or leave it. The tuber will pull itself down into the soil mix as it roots, actually the next time you divide it will of pulled itself all the way to the bottom of the container, I suspect in a natural pond they grow quite deep in the soil.