• AGM plants

    AGM plants have been through a rigorous trial and assessment programme. They are:

    • Excellent for ordinary use in appropriate conditions
    • Available to buy
    • Of good constitution
    • Essentially stable in form & colour
    • Reasonably resistant to pests & diseases

Nelumbo nucifera

sacred lotus

sacred lotus

© RHS 1999

  • Other common names sacred lotus
    Chinese arrowroot

    Chinese waterlily
    East Indian lotus
    Egyptian sacred bean
    water bean
    Indian lotus
    Eastern lotus

    see more
  • Family Nelumbonaceae

  • Genus Nelumbo are rhizomatous perennials growing in pond margins or in shallow water, with large rounded leaves attached to the stalk in the centre, and solitary cupped fragrant flowers held well above the water, followed by characteristic conical fruits

  • Details N. nucifera is a rhizomatous aquatic perennial with long-stalked, rounded leaves to 80cm wide, and solitary, pink or white, water lily-like flowers to 30cm wide, borne on long stalks well above water level in summer

  • Plant range Asia, Australia


  • Foliage Deciduous

  • Habit Suckering

  • Fragrance Flower

  • Hardiness

    Hardiness ratings

    All ratings refer to the UK growing conditions unless otherwise stated. Minimum temperature ranges (in degrees C) are shown in brackets

    • H1a - Under glass all year (>15C)
    • H1b - Can be grown outside in the summer (10 - 15)
    • H1c - Can be grown outside in the summer (5 - 10)
    • H2 - Tolerant of low temperatures, but not surviving being frozen (1 to 5)
    • H3 - Hardy in coastal and relatively mild parts of the UK (-5 to 1)
    • H4 - Hardy through most of the UK (-10 to -5)
    • H5 - Hardy in most places throughout the UK even in severe winters (-15 to -10)
    • H6 - Hardy in all of UK and northern Europe (-20 to -15)
    • H7 - Hardy in the severest European continental climates (< -20)




  • Full Sun

  • Aspect South-facing or West-facing

  • Exposure Sheltered


  • Loam


  • MoisturePoorly-drained

  • SoilLoam

  • pHNeutral


  • Ultimate height 1-1.5 metres

  • Ultimate spread 1-1.5 metres

  • Time to ultimate height 2-5 years

How to grow

Cultivation In an outdoor pool grow in a large container in heavy loam enriched with well-rotted farmyard manure or compost, in full sun. As growth proceeds, gradually lower the containers to increase the water depth to 40-60cm (16-24in), or 15-22cm (6-9in) for smaller cultivars. Remove fading foliage. In cold areas, reduce the water level gradually in autumn, remove the container and overwinter in frost-free conditions, keeping the rhizomes just moist. Under glass, grow in large containers in an indoor pool in full light

Propagation Propagate by seed sown in spring, preferably scarified before sowing, at a minumum temperature of 25°C (77°F) in small containers of loam covered by 5cm (2in) of water. Increase water depth and container size until plants are large enough to plant in the flowering site.Propagate by division of the fragile rhizomes, which resent disturbance. In spring, plant rootstock horizontally just below the soil surface, and barely submerge until growth starts

Suggested planting locations and garden types Patio & Container Plants

How to care

Pruning Cut away fading foliage

Pests Glasshouse red spider mite and glasshouse whitefly may be a problem under glass

Diseases Usually trouble free

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