A Lotus in a Container Garden

June 20, 2013 No Comments »

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This year, I decided that it was time for a new lotus in the pond. Now, two lotuses in our pond would just be too much, so it was time to retire the classic pink lotus that has inhabited the spot closest to the waterfall for many years. This lotus plant is an old friend, though, one that I wasn’t willing to simply get rid of. After much deliberation, I decided to see if it would survive transplant to a container in another part of the back yard.

Scout thinks he's helping. He isn't helping.

Scout thinks he’s helping. He isn’t helping.

The process wasn’t exactly the most complicated thing. I decided to do the transfer in early April. With the cold spring that we had here this year, this seemed like it was a good time, shortly before I expected the plant to wake up from winter dormancy. I measured the width and depth of the soil container that the lotus was already in and found an appropriately-sized pot at the local big-box home improvement store. I shot for at least six inches of water above the soil and relatively heavy plastic. It would have been easier to find a pot of the right size if I had decided to actually transplant the lotus, moving the roots out of the soil container from my pond, but I felt that minimizing the trauma of the move would be best, so in the container it stayed. Even so, finding a pot wasn’t very difficult at all.

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Not my lotus’s best angle.

The hardest part of the entire process was physically moving the lotus container around. The water was cold enough to make pulling the pot out of the pond not particularly pleasant, but more importantly, a large bin full of waterlogged soil and tubers with algae and heavy rocks on top is a not inconsiderable load. I learned two important lessons moving that sucker around. First, wear gloves. The rim of the lotus container wasn’t particularly sharp, but the sheer weight of it was sufficient that it cut my hand pretty good. Don’t do that. Second, have a friend. I’m a big guy, but doing this alone was right at the edge of what I was able to manage on my own. I mean, my dog was there, but he was helping in a more managerial role, directing me around and inspecting my work.

Getting the lotus into its new home was definitely the heftiest bit of work. I didn’t want to drop it in too heavily, for fear of damaging both the plant and the new pot. More than that, I really, really didn’t want to get my fingers caught between the lotus and the pot. I like those fingers. Had them my whole life. I was able to get it in there at an angle, though, and from there push it around to a more level position. This is another place where having a friend handy would make a big, big difference. A few buckets of water from the pond and a pause for photos later, and I was done. It seemed like there should be more to it, but, really, it was a rather straight-forward process. Just tiring.

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I could not be happier with this.

As I’m sure you can guess, I was hugely relieved when, the very next week, the lotus started pushing up leader leaves (the small leaves that grow only to the surface of the pond in early Spring that the lotus uses to gather enough light energy to wake it fully from dormancy). With the transplant, I sort of expected it to behave this year like a freshly transplanted lotus, not performing all that well. So far, though, it has been very impressive. It makes sense, since I left it in the soil container with its well-established root system intact (there’s some argument, but we’ve had it in that container for at least ten years). I’m absolutely ecstatic with how it looks, and I absolutely recommend trying this process out with any of your own pond plants that you’re removing from your pond.

One final note: the water in the pot will likely look very clear and clean with no fish to stir the soil or pollute the water, but this is stagnant water in your yard, so I strongly recommend that you take precautions, chemical or otherwise, to keep mosquitos from breeding in your new micropond. If you value your blood, that is.

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