Grow your own water beauties
Create a dreamscape with gorgeous aquatic plants
Come for a visit to Blue Lotus Water Garden in the Yarra Valley, where waterlilies and lotus grow to perfection. And you don’t need to have a pond to enjoy them at home – both of these beauties can be grown in containers, too.
The sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) is the national flower of India and Vietnam and has been revered by Eastern cultures for millennia. Emerging from the mud to bloom each day, it’s seen as a symbol of purity and rebirth and, amazingly, the seeds can survive thousands of years and still germinate! This plant is edible, too. Make tea from the flowers and eat the seeds raw or roasted, or ground into flour. Wrap food, such as fish, in the leaves for steaming, and boil the roots or slice and cook like potato chips.
What they need
Most lotus varieties can be grown as far south as Sydney and Perth. They need reliable warmth to flower, which is why many don’t adapt to cool areas. But there are varieties that form dormant tubers, so they can handle colder winters – it’s consistent warmth during summer that is crucial.
Waterlilies come in two groups – tropical and hardy – and so can be grown from Darwin to Hobart. They are elegant plants with distinctive lily pads and multi-petalled blooms. A typical, medium-size flower is about 12–15cm in diameter but they range from a tiny 3cm up to a huge 25cm.
What they need
Tropical waterlilies need warm water to flower, and hold their blooms above the waterline. Hardy varieties have blooms that appear to float on the water. They also have the bonus of fragrance. They can propagate by division, so you can make more plants each year. Spring is the time to divide them so the new plants have time to establish before winter dormancy.
Nelumbo nucifera ‘Carolina Queen’