Lotus (Nelumbo lutea) are perennial growing water plants that are found throughout North America, as well as the West Indies and Central America. They are also referred to as yellow lotus, American lotus and water-chinquapin. Lotus plants are recognized by a single, floating leaf, long stems and 10-inch-wide, pale yellow flowers. Starting lotus from seed is relatively easy, and with a little careful preparation, you can easily grow these attractive, showy water plants.
Scrape off, cut or file off a section on each of the lotus seeds. Ensure that you make a deep enough cut, or file off a large enough area to penetrate the hard seed coat.
Place nearly boiling water into a shallow bowl or pan. Set the nicked lotus seeds into the pan or a bowl of water, to soak. Leave the lotus seeds in the bowl, or pan of water until you sense the lotus seeds swelling and sprouting. This can take from 3 to 7 days.
Change the water in the bowl, or pan, twice daily. Make sure when you change the water that you use hot water. Once the majority of lotus seeds have started to germinate, remove them from the bowl or pan of water as soon as possible and pot them up.
Place regular garden soil, or sand, into plastic containers until they are about half-full. Use plastic containers that do not have drain holes, like 1- or 2-gallon plastic buckets. Add water to the contents of the bucket until there's about 2 to 3 inches of water above the garden soil. Poke a hole in the center of the soil, or sand using a stick, or your finger. Plant one lotus seed into the hole. You don't have to cover the seeds; just place them into the hole.
Transfer the plastic pots to a warm location. The temperature needs to between 75 and 80 degrees F. Check on the lotus seedlings at least once daily. Add water to the plastic containers often enough to keep the water clear and clean. There should always be about 2 to 3 inches of water above the soil.
Transplant the lotus into larger plastic containers, or into plastic lined tubs, or directly into your water garden when they are well developed and have a strong root system, anywhere from 4 to 5 months old.