Today, we’ll be talking about water lilies and lotuses, their similarities, and their differences.
Water lilies and Lotuses are a great addition to backyard ponds. These water plants or genus nymphaea plants are not only gorgeous to look at, but they can also add a lovely fragrance to your garden while also improving air quality. However, some gardeners confuse these two aquatic plants.
If you’re thinking of adding a new botanical dweller to your water garden or pond, this is for you.
Let’s get started!
Water Lilies and Lotuses at a Glance
The water lily plant is the common name of plants belonging to the family Nymphaeaceae. These are freshwater flowering plants native to temperate and tropical climates. These plants often provide food for fish and wildlife.
Most hard water lilies have rounded, notched, and waxy young leaves attached to a long leaf stalk. Also called lily pads, these green leaves contain air spaces that allow them to float on freshwater habitats.
They also have thick, fleshy, creeping underwater steps buried in the mud. Meanwhile, their solitary flowers may be at water level or above the water surface attached to long stalks.
Meanwhile, lotus is the common name of plants belonging to the Nelumbonaceae family of plants. They have thin papery leaves that float on water.
They also have long stems that have air pockets to maintain buoyancy. They are found in white and pink colors in general, and they grow in shallow and murky waters.
Differences Between Water Lilies and Lotus Plants
While water lilies and lotuses may seem similar, there are, in fact, distinguishing characteristics between the two.
For starters, the leaves of the water lily are flat, thick, and waxy with a recognizable notch. Meanwhile, the leaves of lotus are thin and papery. The lotus leaf can also be ruffled around the edges.
The beautiful flowers of these two plants are also distinct from one another. Water lily flowers have pointed petals that form a star-like bloom. Meanwhile, lotus plant flowers have rounded petals that can sometimes be ruffly, like their leaves.
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Their blooms also differ in longevity. Tropical water lily flowers can last up to two weeks before wilting and falling beneath the water.
Lotus flowers can only bloom for up to three days, after which seed pods form will continue to grow above the surface of the water.
While they both grow in calm freshwater, they prefer different water depths. Lotuses prefer shallower water of up to 1 foot, while water hardy lilies can thrive in deeper water between 2 and 5 feet.
In terms of fragrance, the lotus is more subtle. Whereas water lily plants have a strong scent when it starts to bloom and then fades as the flower wilts.
Lotuses also thrive best in temperate to tropical climates, so they don’t do well in freezing temperatures. They are hardy only to zone 9.
Meanwhile, some water lilies are hardy to zones 3 and 4, so if you live in a particularly cold climate, you might want to consider this aquatic blooming plant instead.
Caring for Water Lilies and Lotuses
Both of these aquatic plants thrive best with ample sunlight. Make sure that your pond or container gets six or more hours of full sun to ensure that they can bloom.
Your pond or planter should contain topsoil that is free from herbicides and pesticides. Don’t use potting soil since it contains elements that will float in water.
When fertilizing tropical lilies and lotuses, press fertilizer tablets into the soil around your lotus once a month. If you’re growing tropical water lilies, you’ll need to be more generous with fertilizer since they are heavy feeders.
Do not fertilize directly into the water since this affects the pH level.
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Different Types Of Lotus
- Nelumbo nucifera also know as the Indian lotus or Sacred lotus
- Nelumbo lutea also known as the American lotus
- Blue lotus
- Nymphaea lotus also known as the Egyptian White lotus
Species Of Water Lilies
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