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Old 08-29-2009, 11:16 AM   #1
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Default Grow American Lotus from seed?

Hi everyone,

I'm looking for info on growing American Lotus, Nelumbo lutea, from seed: when/how to collect the seeds as well as how and when to plant. I'm seeing from various sources that it's a good idea to drill or file through the "shell" before planting, otherwise it can take years for the seed to sprout as the shell is very slow to break down on its own.

Any help would be appreciated.

John
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Old 08-29-2009, 11:54 AM   #2
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On germination, this from "Seed Germination Theory and Practice" by Norman C. Deno:
"Nelumbo lutea has an impervious seed coat. Seeds germinate at 70 degrees in the dark, in the second week if a hole is filed through the seed coat, and the seed is submerged in water. If the punctured seeds are placed in a moist towel, they rot."

The seeds are hard, and tend to be slippery; be careful when you work on puncturing the seed coat. For a small quantity, I found that filing a small groove in the seed coat with the edge of a file worked pretty well.
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Old 08-29-2009, 01:02 PM   #3
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Thanks for that info. My intention is to introduce Lotus into a pond in a nature preserve where I do volunteer work, and we'll be getting seed from a nearby existing colony. I also need to know when and how to harvest the seeds from the existing colony. After filing the seed coat, the seeds will be going directly into the pond where they'll be growing, not hand-raised for an ornamental pool, so we won't be germinating them under controlled conditions.

I'd read that the way to plant them in the pond is to get some clay soil, then wet it to make mud, then put each Lotus seed in the middle of a clay ball and throw it into the water. That's about all I know. I'm assuming that the time to plant them would be when the seed is ripe and naturally falling into the water, i.e. some time in Autumn. I guess we need to watch them and see when the seeds start going into the water on their own.

Thanks,
John
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Old 08-29-2009, 01:47 PM   #4
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You might find this article from the NativePlants Journal helpful:
http://nativeplants.for.uidaho.edu/Content/Articles/5-1NPJ14-17.pdf
It's mostly on propagation, but it does have some info on direct sowing.

I'm sure you know that the seeds are a favorite food of waterfowl, so keep the fall migrations in mind.
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Old 08-29-2009, 04:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirsium View Post
You might find this article from the NativePlants Journal helpful:
http://nativeplants.for.uidaho.edu/Content/Articles/5-1NPJ14-17.pdf
It's mostly on propagation, but it does have some info on direct sowing.

I'm sure you know that the seeds are a favorite food of waterfowl, so keep the fall migrations in mind.
Thanks Cirsium, exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for. The pond that the seeds will go into doesn't seem to get much in the way of waterfowl for some reason, so hopefully the Lotus seed will be safe there. We're hoping that the Lotus will result in an increase of wildlife in the pond, so eventually the birds might be there.

That's what we're hoping anyway. Since our seed source has lots of plants, it shouldn't hurt them for us to take a few seed pods, so not too big a loss if we fail.

Thanks,
John
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Old 08-29-2009, 04:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Since our seed source has lots of plants, it shouldn't hurt them for us to take a few seed pods, so not too big a loss if we fail.
Good point, but I was thinking more in terms of don't let them get your newly planted seeds. You might consider waiting to plant them until after the bulk of the migration is over.
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Old 08-30-2009, 09:40 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirsium View Post
Good point, but I was thinking more in terms of don't let them get your newly planted seeds. You might consider waiting to plant them until after the bulk of the migration is over.
As I mentioned, for some reason, wildfowl don't use that pond much nowadays. We're trying to figure out why.

The pond was dug for fill to construct overpasses back in the 1960's when they were building nearby Interstates 57 and 80, Initially, the pond was filthy with waterfowl during migrations, but over the years the birds have quit using it. If you're a Google Earth user, punch in 4131'42.63"N, 8745'11.32"W to see it. We're thinking maybe the proximity of the roads have something to do with the birds leaving. Back when those ponds were dug, they were pretty much out in the country with very little traffic on the streets, but nowadays things have been built-up around there, and the roads carry a lot of traffic.

John
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Old 08-30-2009, 12:41 PM   #8
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I've started them in 5 gallon buckets of water and had no problems. I started them in pond muck then stuck them in my unheated garage for the winter. They are hard to nick. The clay balls are an excellent idea. The clay will weight them.
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