Could these be the largest Victoria pads ever grown in China?

Read about Li Shu-juan

Victoria 'Longwood Hybrid' at
Xi'an Botanical Garden
of China

by Li Shu-juan
Click images to enlarge

Xi'an Botanical Garden was established in 1959, one of 12 earliest botanical gardens established by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Its primary tasks are basic investigation of plant applications, plant introduction and domestication, preservation of germplasm, and popularizing botanical knowledge. Our garden is in Xi'an, at the centre of China, 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.

In 1984, our garden started planting Victoria cruziana. Before 2002, they were planted in a smaller pond with trees around it, so we couldn't produce any seeds and had to introduce seedlings from other gardens every year. In 2002, we planted them in a larger pond that has more sunshine. That year, we got some mature seeds for the first time! In January 2003, we started the Victoria seeds and got some lusty seedlings of our own instead of introducing seedlings. In 2006 at our garden, a Victoria pad with a diameter of 189 cm (74.5") could bear the weight of a lady and two children (total weight of 79 kg [174 #]). See The Weight-bearing Capability of Victoria.

In late 2007, I got 20 V. 'Longwood Hybrid' seeds from Kit Knotts of Water Gardeners International. On February 19, 2008, I started the seeds. Finally, I got 12 vigorous seedlings. Two of them were planted in the outdoor pond. July 24 the first flower opened. August 3 the diameter of the largest pad was 227 cm (89.4"). I will show you our process of starting and growing the plants. 


20 V. 'Longwood Hybrid' seeds came from Kit Knotts on December 11, 2007 and were stored in distilled water in the laboratory where the temperature was 15-18 C (59-64.4 F)  

Method of Cultivation

Sprouting stage

We started the seeds in the greenhouse on February 19, 2008.
Treating the seeds: At the start, half of the seeds were nicked. On March 3, five seeds that had not germinated were nicked.


Water tank, beaker, heater, 200W incandescent lamp, electrical source.

The seeds were put in a beaker with 7-9 cm (2.8-3.5") water.

Then the beaker was put in a water tank with 4-6 cm (1.6-2.4") water. A heater kept water temperature at 30 C (±2 C) (about 86 F). A 200W incandescent lamp provided 14 hours of light in the morning and evening. 

The seeds began to sprout after three days and continued over 27 days, but two of them rotted away after sprouting. See Table 1.

02/26, 7 seeds were sprouted

 Table 1. Record of seeds germinating




 Not nicked





































02/28, 10 seeds were sprouted

03/02, 14 seeds were sprouted.
The longest filiform leaf
was 9.8cm (3.86")

Potted Plants in Greenhouse Stage

Planting medium: pool mud disinfected and "Zhuang miao 1#" were mixed pro rata 1:1 to make a mud pie. ("Zhuang miao 1#" is a special medium for growing flowers, made by Known-You [China] Seed Company Ltd.)

Water temperature: 28 C (±2 C) (about 83 F)

Water depth: 10-20cm (3.9-7.9") (above growing point)

The First Planting

In 15 to 18 days after germination, on March 9, we planted the seedlings with the second hastate leaf or the first floating leaf in 8×8cm (3.1×3.1") flowerpots. At that time, most seedlings had 5-11 adventitious roots (see Table 2).


By March 25, most seedlings had the fourth floating leaf. From then on, 1.5g (.05oz) multiplex fertilizer was added to each pot every week.

<A seedling ready to be planted
The seedlings March 26 > 

Cut a slit in the soil along the wall of pot. 

Separate the soil from the wall of pot and form a hole. 

Add the fertilizer in the hole.

Cover the fertilizer with soil.

Table 2. The growth of some seedlings at first planting (cm)



First hastate leaf

hastate leaf


First floating leaf 

Adventitious roots 






8.6, 7.4, 6.8, 6.2, 5.7, 4.7, 4.2, 0.2, 0.1, 0.1 






10.2, 8.9, 7.4, 7.1, 5.8, 5.4, 2.6, 1.9, 0.2, 0.1 







9.8, 7.6, 7.5, 6.6, 6.5, 0.6, 0.2 







8.0, 7.2, 6.6, 5.9, 0.2, 0.1, 0.1 







5.9, 4.9, 4.1, 3.7, 2.5, 2.4, 1.9

The Second Transplanting

On April 8, when the roots of seedlings had grown out of the mud, we transplanted them into 13×12cm (5.1×4.7") flowerpots. On April 16, we added 3g (.1oz) multiplex fertilizer into every pot.

The seedlings April 9 >

The Third Transplanting

After fertilizing on April 16, I did something really stupid! (Today, my heart still flutters with fear!) At that time, algae were increasing in our pond because the water was stagnant. So about 11:00, I sprinkled some CuSO4 (copper sulfate) solution in the water. About 16:00, I returned. My God! The edges of all floating leaves were necrotic -- the concentration of CuSO4 solution was too large! The noxious water must be replaced at once. Unfortunately, the water supply department was examining and repairing that day. No water! … About 20:00, the water came. All seedlings were washed time and time again, then replanted in 20×15cm (7.9×5.9") flowerpots. After this, I observed them every morning and evening. I worried that all the seedlings would die!

The seedlings May 6
In the next month, most old leaves withered, two seedlings died, four seedlings were weak, but the other 12 seedlings started growing after a week, though their leaves were smaller than before. About May 10, they had come back to the size of April 16. Then we started to fertilize them again, adding about 5g (.2oz) multiplex fertilizer into the pots weekly.

After this, the 12 seedlings grew well. In the first ten days of June, the diameter of their leaves was about 40cm (15.7").

The seedlings May 29 > 

In this period, we recorded the data of every seedling's growth. The data of seedling #14 is in Table 3 (will open in a new window). The data shows that the seedling grew two leaves every nine days before April 16. After this, the growth speed became markedly slower because of the chemical damage, with two leaves taking about 13 days. The diameter of the sixth floating leaf had reached 12.3cm (4.8") before April 16, but from the seventh to tenth floating leaf, their diameters were all smaller than 12.3cm (4.8"). Their recovery took more than 20 days.

< Seedling #14 April 15

Table 3

Seedling #14 May 11 >

The Outdoor Growth Period

Cofferdam size: 150×150×50cm (59.1×59.1×19.7")

Planting medium: Fertile pool mud, 50kg base fertilizer, 20kg dry chook dung and 30kg rotten oilseed residues, was mixed with pool mud in a cofferdam.

Two of the largest seedlings were planted into two cofferdams in the outdoor pond in our garden.

The first flower of seedling #14 opened on July 24.

In early August, the diameter of all leaves exceeded 200cm (78.4"), the largest was 227cm (89.4").

In Xi'an, it is from the last ten days of July to the first ten days of August that the temperature is highest of the year, so the diameter after the 31st pad is not larger than the 31st pad, but the diameter of pads again reached 227cm (7.4') during hot weather in August.

Seedling #14 06/16

Seedling #15 06/16

Seedling #14 07/11

Seedling #15 07/11

First night flower

Second morning

Second night

Third morning

< Third morning when it was cloudy and rainy

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