Some growers in very warm climates have difficulty growing lotuses successfully. Over time, some strains have emerged that are better suited to very warm climates than others. Nelumbo nucifera 'Bali Red' was probably the first so-called "tropical" lotus brought to cultivation in the US.

 Dr. Mornoe Birdsey's
Nelumbo nucifera 'Bali Red'

by James Thiele, Homestead, Florida USA
and Dr. Jordon Steele,
Coral Gables, Florida USA
Images by Dr. Jordon Steele - Click to enlarge

Jim Thiele:

Approximately thirty years ago, Dr. Monroe Birdsey, Professor of Botany at the University of Miami, brought a form of Nelumbo nucifera that he called 'Bali Red' to the United States. The only history we have is from memory. My recollection is that Dr. Birdsey read an account of this cultivar in a journal and referred also to photographs. He was impressed that it flowered all year-round in the tropics and in heated greenhouses. He had gone on a sponsored trip to the Far East where he located a specimen tuber, bringing it back to the US.

Dr. Birdesy subsequently cultivated N. 'Bali Red' in his ponds in Miami, Florida, for about two years before he offered it to collectors. Most of what he gave to growers were seedlings which would not be true to the original clone. The line of plants that we refer to here is from the original tuber.

Dr. Monroe Birdsey and Walter Pagels in Birdsey's Miami garden.

Dr. Birdsey was a renowned collector of exotic plants and his garden was an amazing recreation of a tropical rainforest. He is perhaps best known in water gardening for his classic autumn-colored Nymphaea 'Albert Greenberg'.

'Bali Red' bud

Dr. Jordon Steele:

I have grown lotus for five years in south Florida. In early March, 2006 I divided and replanted three cultivars of double lotus. In May 2006, Jim Thiele gave me two tubers of the original 'Bali Red'. I planted one in a pot that stands on a terrace while I potted the other and placed into my pond. The double forms were started many weeks ahead of 'Bali Red' and began to bloom in late May while 'Bali Red' started to bloom in early August. Now in October 2006 the 'Bali Red' plants are still growing and flowering. In general, the 'Bali Red' was the best grower and bloomer of the lotus that I have in stand-alone pots. In my pond all lotus escaped from their pots but 'Bali Red' still thrives.

Thiele and Steele have recently submitted N. nucifera 'Bali Red' for registration with the IWGS Registry for Nelumbo.

First day flower

Second day flower

Second day flower

Third day flower

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