I sprouted 4 lotus plants (Nelumbo nucifera) in the start of May this year.

I expected the leaves to be green like the one you see at the bottom center of the image below. However, as you can see from the attached images, the leaves display a wide range of colors. One is even pink! Please note that this started with the very first leaf, when the seeds were still in a tall glass vase.

Is this normal, or is there something wrong my my plants?
If the latter, what can I do to cure the problem?

Additional information:

  • Growing medium: Aquarium sand.
  • Container size: 70 L (18.5 gal)
  • Fertilizer: None
  • Sunlight: 7h direct + 9h indirect (59°N)
  • Air temperature : 15-30°C (59-86°F)
  • Water temperature : 15-40°C (59-104°F)
  • Water quality: Voss water (aka. Norwegian tap water)
  • Store: Seeds purchased from Plant World Devon Ltd

Update #1

~5 weeks after applying slow release fertilizer:

Update #2

~7 weeks after applying slow release fertilizer:


Water lillys and I expect lotus are heavy feeders. What is wrong is no fertilizer and poor growing medium. Because you have no koi or goldfish to dig, put 2"/ 5 cm rich garden soil in the bottom, cover with sand/gravel. And for good measure, mix a teaspoon of fertilizer into the soil first (I like 9-45-15 , but not high N lawn fertilizer).

The temperature seems high but I doubt it would hurt the plants. I have 3 water lilies blooming in my 5 X 10 ft. pond now with water at 84 F, mine will get to 90 F. If I was going to change something, I would use a deeper container for more thermal mass (lower maximum temperature). And more room for substrate, then you could add coarse gravel so gold fish can't dig, and add gold fish (they will probably eat algae). I have 2 koi about 5 pounds each and they do not mind 90 F (I do have aeration).

  • How sure are you that "no fertilizer is wrong"? Numeral sources on the web says that you should not fertilize before the first aerial leaf appear, and by doing so could kill the plant. Some even say that you should not apply any the first year. That's why I've yet to apply any fertilizer. I agree that the growing medium is not being ideal, and that a deeper container would reduce the max temp. But I've seen so many videos where people grow this plant in a smaller container than mine. Example: youtube.com/watch?v=5CX6yIaO7Ks and youtube.com/watch?v=Oysl-0V6pQ8. Jun 22 '20 at 18:32
  • I think the video is saying you need fertilizer. My technique is for a lazy old person ; I mix the fertilizer ( a high strength variety of the same blue colored water soluble) in the soil at first . I expect the plants will need fertilizer by the time the roots grow through the soil . Then I don't need to come back each month to fertilize and I like the fertilizer in the soil instead of in the water. Jun 22 '20 at 19:41
  • I have never grown lotus only water lillys but they seem very similar. Jun 22 '20 at 19:42
  • It's a mystery why so many sources say "no fertilizer", but as you can see from my update it did wonders. The plants look more healthy; green and bigger leaves. Thank you for giving me "the push" to prove the internet wrong. ;) Aug 2 '20 at 10:25
  • I think the problem is people tend to put in too much which is worse than none. Such as for your tub if a half teaspoon is good ,then some would say; 2 teaspoons would be better ( not!). So experts err on the side of caution. Aug 2 '20 at 15:04

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