N. 'Qiu Shui Chang
The Breathtaking Nelumbo
Xi'an Botanical Garden
and How They Grow It
by Li Shujuan
Click images to enlarge
Nelumbo nucifera is native to China and lotuses have
been cultivated here for 3000 years. Now there are about 600
lotus recognised varieties in China. They are praised as the
"gentlemen of flowers" as they have the characteristic
of growing out of the mud yet remaining stainless, so the Chinese
people love them very much.
Xi'an Botanical Garden is located at the centre of China,
in a suburb south of Xi'an, 34°13' N, 108°58' E, at an
elevation of 434-442 m (1424-1450 ft), in a warm-temperate continental
monsoon climate. Annual average temperature is 13.4 C (56 F),
January average temperature 0.5 C (33 F), June average temperature
26.7 C (80 F), absolute maximum temperature 41.7 C (107 F), absolute
minimum temperature -20.6 C (-5.1 F), annual average frostless
season 208 days, annual average precipitation 598 mm (23.5 in),
annual average sunshine hours 2065.6.
Xi'an Botanical Garden introduced and collected lotus cultivars
beginning in 1970. It had about 150 lotus varieties at one time,
and built an aquatic exhibition district. Later, because managers
were changed, most varieties were confused or lost. In 2004,
when I took over, there were only about 40 varieties. I began
introducing and collecting new ones.
Collecting Lotus Cultivars
In recent years, we have investigated and analysed lotus collections
in all parts of China. Finally we chose several organizations
as the places from which we would collect cultivars. Their climates
were similar to Xi'an's and they had more lotus varieties than
others in China. They were The Lotus Research Centre of China
(it has the most varieties in China), Nanjing Botanical Garden
Mem. Sun Yat-Sen, China Waterlily World, and Shandong Yimeng
N. 'Feng Wu'
Because the lotus is dichogamous, seedlings don't keep the parents'
characteristics. We introduce varieties only by tuber (lotus
root). We start our lotuses from the last of March to the last
of April, when tubers will germinate or are germinating.
Large types are planted in a large pond or a 1-2 sq. m (10.76-21.52
sq, ft) pond; medium plant types are planted in 1-2 sq. m (10.76-21.52
sq. ft) pond or a vat with the diameter of 50 cm (1.6 ft); small
plant types are planted in a vat with the diameter less than
45 cm (1.5 ft).
Fertile pond soil, paddyfield soil and garden soil all can be
used without fertilization. Lotuses have a good adaptability
for soil and can tolerate pH 5-8, 6.2 ideal. Clayey and sandy
soil can be used, slightly clayey soil with rich organic matter
Lotus display area
In our garden, when lotus leaves become dry and start to rot,
we cut off all parts above ground. Plantings in ponds are kept
with more than 15 cm (6") of water over the soil. Plantings
in vats are centralized and kept full of water, then covered
with flat straw shades all around the vats to keep the lotus
roots free from ice. If you do this, the lotus roots can overwinter
Replanting in spring
At the start of April, we turn the vats over and empty the
plants and soil out. We clean all tubers out of soil and retain
the swollen ones for replanting. Then we put the soil back into
the vat, add the proper quantity new soil, a little rotten oil
cake and well-rotted cow and chicken dung, and churn the soil
and fertilizer together. The lotus roots can then be replanted.
Preventing confusion of lotus varieties
In the process of collecting lotus cultivars, attention should
be paid to avoiding confusion of varieties. Following are periods
when this is likely to happen and the methods of prevention:
1. Introducing varieties period: every variety must have a
label and be bundled individually.
2. Planting period: For varieties planted in a pond, each
should be planted in its own container, and drawing a map of
planting is necessary. For varieties planted in a vat, the label
must be made on the body of vat, for preventing confusion if
the vat should be moved.
3. Replanting period: When turning out the lotus roots, each
variety must be made a label, bundled separately, and replanted
as early as possible. One vat should be planted with the same
variety all along. If the variety in a vat is different from
last year, before planting all the lotus tubers must be cleaned
out, because if even one small tuber remains, it will grow. Though
it might not bloom in that year, in autumn, its swollen tubers
will be mixed up with the replanting variety.
The best time to verify the variety is when it is blooming.
We usually verify by the characteristics and pictures in "Lotus
Flower Cultivars in China" (Qichao Wang & Xingyan Zhang,
Now, our garden has collected 258 lotus varieties, but through
verifying, I have found that some are wrong. Following are some
I believe are correct. I have divided them into 30 categories
by the taxonomy of Qichao Wang & Xingyan Zhang in "Lotus
Flower Cultivars in China".
List by Plant
Type with links to images
(Alphabetical) Complete (800 K)
For shorter download
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