Grow your own wa­ter beau­ties

Cre­ate a dream­scape with gor­geous aquatic plants

Better Homes and Gardens (Australia) - - March Contents -

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.

Lovely lo­tus

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.

Won­der­ful waterlilies

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’

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