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How to Germinate Lotus Seeds

By Frank Whittemore ; Updated September 21, 2017

The lotus flower is revered in Asia and appreciated the world around for its beauty and simplicity. There is a long history of cultivating lotus plants. Images of lotus flowers can be seen in Egyptian, Hindu, Chinese and other archaeological sites.

The plant grows from underwater rhizomes, a type of root. Long stems rise from them to the surface of ponds and lakes. There, round flat leaves fan out to collect sunlight. Other stems produce flowers and, eventually, seeds.

Lotus seeds remain viable for extremely long periods of time. Dormant seeds found within Chinese tombs thousands of years old have been successfully germinated. The seeds are easy to germinate, with a little special treatment, and can be grown in your water garden.

Germinate lotus seeds in the spring. Germinated seeds will require the full growing season for the plants to establish sufficient rhizomes to survive colder months.

Scarify the seeds by making a lateral incision across them with a file. Use the file to cut through the hard shell of the seed until you see the cream-colored endosperm through the incision. This will allow the seed to more readily absorb water, thereby promoting germination.

Place the seeds in the plastic container and fill it with fresh water until they are completely covered. Keep the seeds in a well-lit area that is about 77 to 86 degrees F. It is important to change the water at least once a day, especially if it becomes cloudy.

Look at your seeds after 48 hours. The hard shell should appear lumpy or wrinkled due to the absorption of water. Within 48 hours after that, you should notice a crack in the tip of each seed, with a small green shoot protruding from it. Over the next few days, this shoot will continue to grow and eventually unfold.

Wait for the shoots of your seedlings to grow upward and form small leaves. At this point, the seedlings have matured enough to be planted.


Things You Will Need

  • Lotus seeds
  • File
  • Plastic container

About the Author


In Jacksonville, Fla., Frank Whittemore is a content strategist with over a decade of experience as a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy and a licensed paramedic. He has over 15 years experience writing for several Fortune 500 companies. Whittemore writes on topics in medicine, nature, science, technology, the arts, cuisine, travel and sports.