Hardy pond lotus will go dormant during the winter months when temperatures are cool and there is less sunlight. We have listed several methods of preparing your lotus for winter and storing the lotus until Spring. Depending on your pond, climate and storage facilities available, choose the best method for your situation.
If your garden pond does not freeze solid during the winter months, the lotus can spend the winter months in the pond where it is currently planted. After the first killing frost and the lotus has completely died back for the season, you can remove the dead and dried leaves and then sink the planting container below the freeze line. Important do not cut back while the plant is still green, doing so will allow water to get down the hollow stems and cause the tuber to rot. The lotus only need to be deep enough to protect the tubers from freezing solid during the winter months. Next Spring, simply raise the pot closer to the surface.
If your winters are mild, you can leave your lotus container where it is. Water is a great insulator so keep the pot full during the winter. Do not fertilize when the lotus is dormant. If you feel that your lotus is not safe outside for the winter, move it to a garage or basement for protection from extreme weather. Pour out the water to make it easier to move. Place against an inside wall and refill with water. Replace water as it evaporates. No light is necessary during the winter.
Tuber Harvest and Storage
If you do not have room to store the whole container, potted lotus can be harvested in late fall and the tubers stored until you are ready to plant them in the spring. The new tubers that you will harvest will be found coiled around the bottom of the pot. Tip the pot upside down and gently allow the entire contents of the pot to fall out leaving what was on the bottom of the pot face up. Use a water hose to wash away most of the soil. There may be several tubers large enough to cut and save for next year. Each section that you cut should have at least two growing tips (nodes) and two swollen sections of tuber (internodes). Cut in the middle of the third internode. Wash the cut tubers carefully to remove soil. Prepare a solution of 1 tablespoon Clorox mixed with 1 gallon of water. Place tubers in the Clorox solution and let them soak for about an hour. Remove tubers and store in cool, dark area until spring. Tubers may be placed in a closed Ziploc plastic bag and stored in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. Or, you can wrap the tubers in sphagnum moss and store them in a dark, unheated storage area with cool but not freezing temperatures. Be careful not to break growing tips!
Almost all lotus pots should be harvested at least once every three years to avoid overcrowding. Once a pot becomes overcrowded the leaves and flowers will become smaller. Flowering becomes less frequent.