Here are seven basic things you need to raise a happy Lotus. We've included estimated costs with each item to give you a rough idea of how much funding you will need along the way to your first Lotus flower.
1) A Lotus plant. ($36) If you are starting from a seed you will need sandpaper or a file… or a rodent-like ability to gnaw.
2) A suitable water container. The larger the better. We recommend using the largest container that you can get...30 gallons is an acceptable starting point. Some of our favorite containers (in order) are:
The half whisky barrels (~$50) you sometimes see at Lowe’s and Home Depot. Home Depot seems unable or unwilling to properly store their barrels, so Lowe's is the better place to get one, though they are $5 more. The barrels need to be kept wet, or the staves shrink, split, crack and leak. If you get a good one they WILL hold water; they are whisky barrels after all! Wash THOROUGHLY or your house will smell like bourbon! Good excuse to get a power washer!
Any of the smaller animal feeding troughs (~$40) available from the good folks at Waimanalo Feed Supply. Get the largest one you can comfortably handle - remember that water is heavy.
The inexpensive 25-gallon plastic tubs (~$10) from K-Mart. These are, by far, the cheapest way to go, barring the last method which is….
Dig a hole in the ground (free! Medical bills extra…) that will hold water. Call it a pond.
3) A suitable pot. You (or more specifically, your plant) will want a circular pot with at least a 3-gallon ($3) capacity. The Lotuses that come from our nursery are already planted in 3-gallon pots. Ideally, the container should not contain any corners (which may trap and kill the running tubers) and if you have a choice, wider is better than deeper. 4) Good quality topsoil. If you somehow have access to clay loam use it; it doesn’t float and will keep your water clean. Being a tropical island we sadly don’t have any here and have to make-do with pure topsoil. Don’t use topsoil with any mulch added; mulch floats and you don’t want to be forever scooping floaty bits out of your Lotus pond! For the same reason, avoid the otherwise excellent potting soils that are commercially available. We’ve found that the Niu brand topsoil (~$3) works well, though it is fairly pricey for what is essentially a bag of dirt. When we have the time to head out to Hawaii Kai, we get our topsoil from the nice folks at Charles Nii Nursery. Avoid ridiculously cheap topsoils; we lost an entire season’s production from bad topsoil that was only $1.00 per bag - thanks Wal-Mart, appreciate that. :( 5) Fertilizer specially made for aquatic plants (~$6). These are usually available as a large tablet and are readily available in most garden shops. We sell them too! 6) A place to put your container where it will see the sun (free!) all day long. Lotus do not need full sun to grow, but if you ever want to see a flower (and isn’t that why you got a Lotus?) you need full sun; the plant blooms in response to seasonal changes, and in Hawai`i that means sunlight. 7) Any small, readily available fish that bears live young. Guppies (~$5 ea) are a perennial favorite, though feeder comets (~$0.25 ea) are available cheaply and in bulk from nearly any local pet shop. Bonus if you use comets: they are brightly colored and can usually be easily seen even in a typically murky Lotus pond. You won't need fish food, you don't have to feed them.