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  • Author or Editor: Daike Tian x
  • HortScience x
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Little research is reported on container production of ornamental lotus (Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn.). In this study, fertilization has a critical impact on growth index of lotus `No.7', a numbered clone, in 29 liter (7.5 gallon) containers. Compared to the control treatment (zero fertilization), 1–3 tsp. (4g/tsp.) of 20-10-20 (Pro·Sol) applied every 20 days significantly increased plant height (1.3–1.6 times), fresh biomass (2.4–3.3 times), emerging leaf number (1.9–2.7 times), flower number (2.4–2.7 times), and propagule number (1.3–1.5 times). There was a quadratic response as growth parameters increased with increasing fertilizer rates. Growth indices increased linearly from 0–2 tsp. and then leveled as fertilizer rates reached 3 tsp. No difference was recorded in flower number and plant height for 1–3 tsp. fertilizer treatments. Absorption of nutrition increased with fertilization concentration, an absorption peak value appeared between 13 July and 2 Aug. For 1-3 tsp. treatments, nitrogen is nearly 100% absorbed by lotus every 20 days. However, there is some residue for P and K, especially in 3-tsp. treatment in the earlier and later growth season. Analysis of young leaf tissue indicated that macronutrients N, P, K, and dry mass increased, but Ca decreased with increasing fertilizer rates. In tuber tissue, K, Na, and dry mass increased, while Ca and Fe content decreased. The most efficient rate of fertilizer for 7.5 gallon container production of `No.7' lotus was 2 tsp. per 20 days. Although soluble fertilizer also stimulated proliferation of algae growth in the early growth stage of lotus, this problem dissipated as emerging leaves shaded the water surface.

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Lotus (Nelumbo) is a highly valued plant with a long history for vegetable, ornamental, and medicinal use. Little information is available on the effects of planting time on performance of lotus, especially when grown in containers. The objectives of this study were to find a suitable planting time and to determine best management practices that are of importance for container lotus production. Effects of planting time and disbudding on plant growth indices in southeast Alabama were evaluated in a container production system for the ornamental lotus, N. nucifera ‘Embolene’. Results indicated that plant growth indices were little influenced by different planting dates in March, but were much influenced by planting dates with a difference over a month between February and May. Plants potted and placed outdoors in March and April performed best, and lotus planted in the greenhouse in February and planted outdoors in February and May performed worst. Flower number was not largely influenced by the planting time, but flowering characteristics, especially the flowering peaks, were different among treatments. Planting lotus outdoors between March and May produced the largest return. Influence of planting time on plant growth indices of lotus appeared to be explained by effects of growth-season climate conditions after planting. Disbudding had no impact on plant height but significantly increased underground fresh weight and the number of propagules. Therefore, disbudding should be considered a best management practice to maximize the yield of rhizomes or propagules. Positive linear, quadratic, or cubic relationships were detected among emerging leaf number, underground fresh biomass, and propagule number. Based on the regression models, the yield of lotus rhizomes or propagules can be predicted by the number of emerging leaves. This research provided a guide for nurseries, researchers, and collectors to select the best time to plant lotus outdoors.

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