View Full Version : Joyce's Lily and Lotus Potting FAQ

Swimming Jewel
08-10-2006, 07:38 AM
When I repot in the spring, I use pots without holes, (or you can line pots with black garbage bags) and throw in about a half cup of Osmocote Pellets per 18" pot on the bottom of the pot before I add the soil (I use compost...composted cow manure works best for me).
Osmocote is a micro-coated fertilizer, using the osmosis process in conjunction with the temperature, the nutrients inside the micro-coated pellet pass through the micro-coat, the warmer the temps, the faster it is released. This corresponds to the lilies (or lotus, or any pond plants) needs for nutrition. As it warms up from Spring to Summer, your plants grows faster, needs more nutrition...more food. Osmocote can NOT dissolve all at once like fertilizer tabs or spikes can, so it is virtually impossible to burn your plants with Osmocote (unless you don't follow directions and dump WAYYYY too much of it in the pot). There is a chart on each container of Osmocote that tells you how much to use per diameter pot.
Fool proof I say...but they are famous last words aren't they. ;)
Common sense comes into play here too.
Think about what water lilies grow in, in their natural habitat, at the bottom of a natural pond.

Do they grow in sand?
Do they grow in Kitty Litter?
Do they grow in Gravel?
Do they grow in topsoil?
Do they grow in coco fiber?
Do they grow in clay?

'NOPE' to all of the above.

Water lilies grow in the composting, rotting muck at the bottom of natural ponds. This muck is a combo of dead plants, dead animals, dead insects, and all the other organic debris that naturally gets into a pond and settles out onto a layer of sediment on the bottom. TONS of micronutrients in this muck too, not to mention beneficial bacteria, and yes, anaerobic bacteria. There are no 'holes' in the bottom of natural ponds. No need for holes in pots either.
Another good aspect to pots without holes is that the nutrients and fertilizer has to seep upwards into the water lily roots (or any pond plant roots) and can not leach out through the bottom holes. This way your lily gets ALL the nutrition.
If you use pots with holes, the fertilizer (and soil nutrients) leach out and will cause algae blooms. :(

So by planting your lilies in compost, it's the next best thing to what your lily really wants...natural pond muck! And by adding Osmocote, you can have at least 4 months of gradually released supplemental nutrition for your lilies, and all pond plants.
And you wont get any fertilizer burn. :)
But you will get bigger lilies, more blooms than you've ever had, and have a lot less maintenance!
(not to mention Osmocote saves you money in the long run)

And another copy/paste:
Here is another 'secret' I use: I stick a small walnut sized wad of plain steel wool on the bottom of my pot....keeps the lily (or any plant) from getting chloritic. (yellowing from lack of iron)
Also, I mix Mosquito Quick Kill granules (it's all natural, uses Bacillus thurengensis aka BT) into my Compost. It innoculates your plants soil with BT, killing the caterpillars that eat your lily leaves, and it will of course kill mosquitos. Completely fish safe, pet safe, human safe since it uses a bacteria that gets into the bugs digestive system, disrupts it and causes the caterpillars (and mosquito larvae) to starve to death.
When mixed into the soil, it seems to 'time release' and last all summer. :)

Pondly...Joyce :D:

PS: One word of warning, if you buy conposted cow manure, it should look and smell like high quality compost...NOT COW POOP!
It should not be moldy, stinky, or nasty in any way. :no: :sick: If you do open a bag and it's nasty, funky, stinky.....use common sense and DON'T use it!

08-13-2007, 09:46 AM
Great tips, Joyce! Thanks! I didn't think about the "natural" medium for lilies. I've seen Osmacote at Lowes but didn't realize it is a time-release fertilizer. I've been using tomato spikes, which are hard to find here. When I repot my lilies again, I'll definitely use some "Black Kow". Have you used that?

Swimming Jewel
08-28-2007, 08:03 AM
Yes, I have used that. It's OK. :cool3:

You just need to make sure that whatever you use hasn't gone sour. Sometimes the bags are over a year old, and get funky.

Has to be composted, not fresh manure.

This year I used some of my own home made compost from kitchen scraps and coffee grounds. The lilies LOVE it!:yes:

04-12-2008, 09:05 AM
As you are indeed 'Queen of the Jungle' :bow:
I have copied your post to guide my water gardening efforts this year.
My first year trying trops and lotus...and repotting my existing hardies.

Hope you are doing well Joyce, I think of you often in several contexts.

04-13-2008, 09:37 AM

04-14-2008, 04:55 AM
F.y.i.Good overview for seeding lotus:yes:

06-19-2008, 01:47 PM
I did not repot 3 lotus pots and they were looking sluggish so I threw in a 1/4 c of osmocote in each.... they all perked up, grew a foot and I have a bloom :D:

06-20-2008, 05:33 AM
I love osmocote...who was badmouthing?

Anyone know a product that is slow release like osmocote but with a NPK formulation that is low-high-medium?

Swimming Jewel
06-20-2008, 07:26 AM
I believe Osmocote has a formula for flowering plants that has a higher middle number.:cool3:
(Probably Nutricote and Multicote have the same formulas, they are different brand names, but pretty much the same product as Osmocote)

There is now Osmocote Plus and Osmocote Total which are even better products than what I am using now, with iron, and trace elements, just can't find 'em yet around here.
Remember, just because it has a higher middle number, does NOT mean you will have more blooms.
Blooming is best when the plant is getting the proper sunlight. :yes:

The best formula for all plants is the balanced 14-14-14 which provides the proper balance between foliage, roots and blooms.:cool3:

Here is a review online:

01-30-2009, 10:37 AM
Osmocote is wonderful for saving time when planting, especially for terrestrial plants. Each little granule (technically called a 'prill') gradually releases its contents according to time. The different NPK blends and release rates are determined by the guts of each prill and how much coating each has -- the more coating, the longer it takes to wear off. (Hmmm ... that makes sense.)

There is another brand of time release fertilizer that works a little differently. Instead of coating each fertilizer component particle to make a prill, it blends all the ingredients together and then forms them into prills -- so each prill has the same chemical composition. The coating it uses is also different; it releases according to temperature and time, not just time. This is very valuable for aquatic plants, which are so seasonal in their growth. The fertilizer is Nutricote and I found out about it from aquatic plant growers, who buy it wholesale in big bags. Luckily it's also possible to get it in smaller quantities at garden centers under the name Dynamite. (The prills are gray and irregular shaped.)

It should be mentioned that both of these fertilizers are designed for growing in soil, not in water. So their dosages and release rates (90, 120 days, etc) don't really apply.

Having said all that ... I love using Dynamite and add it to all my planting soil for lilies and lotus. I've even found a way to insert it into plants late in the season. (But that's another topic.)

Aquatically Yours,
The Lotus: Know It and Grow It

Swimming Jewel
01-30-2009, 03:12 PM
Welcome Paula! :welcome:

Actually, the coating on Osmocote prills is not designed to wear off. It is designed to function as an Osmotic Membrane (using osmocosis...water and water soluable fertilizers pass through the membrane), hence the name 'Osmocote' (and includes ALL the competitor lookalikes like Multicote, Nutricote, etc) These all employ the Osmotic Membrane...once again, not designed to wear off... but to osmotically release (based on soil temps) the balanced formula inside, which is the same balanced formula inside each pellet or 'prill'.

By the way, the Osmotic Membrane works with the temperature of the soil, the warmer the soil, the faster the fertilizer passes through the membrane because the membrane expands as it warms, opening up small holes in the membrane which the fertilizer passes through.
The membrane is soy based and breaks down well after all the nutrients have been released.

All the above info can be found and read on the Osmcote Label of each container. :cool3:

But here are some links to read if you don't happen to have an Osmocote, Nutricote or Multicote label on hand.



Very good diagram in this link illustrating the osmosis process within each prill. :cool:

01-30-2009, 04:51 PM
Hi All,
< Actually, the coating on Osmocote prills is not designed to wear off. It is designed to function as an Osmotic Membrane (using osmocosis...water and water soluable fertilizers pass through the membrane), hence the name 'Osmocote' (and includes ALL the competitor lookalikes like Multicote, Nutricote, etc) ...>

Thanks very much for the correction/clarification. This was one of my first posts and I wasn't being as careful as I should have. I was actually worried about being too wordy and technical (which HAS been known to happen.)

My preference for Nutricote over Osmocote (which I originally used) is based on personal results in the 9-month growing season of SW Florida, where a steady release that lasts as long as possible is preferred. Then when commercial aquatic plant growers recommended Nutricote to me, I was sold. The final straw was a study of controlled release fertilizers in AQUATIC conditions done through the Univ of FL. (Reported in the IWGS Journal Vol 21:1, unfortunately not available online.) The Osmocote released its nutrients faster in completely submerged conditions, which is what my lilies and lotus have.

Since I'm basically a lazy water gardener, I try to use very good rich soil, packed with long-term nutrients whenever I repot. That means I don't have to worry about adding fertilizer until late summer.

The bottom line is that any good fertilizer, ideally with micronutrients, will provide the food that lilies and lotus need. The exact formulation and NPK ratio will depend upon the grower's preferences. And as Joyce said, getting lots of light (and warmth) are also critical to lots of blooms.

04-23-2009, 04:19 PM
Joyce , recently repotted the lilies in my pond, did the Colorado using your method and the others using the old way and water plant fertilizer tabs. the Colorado has put out loads of new leaves in just about 3 weeks and is putting out multiple blooms . 4 yesterday. The others are doing okay but nothing like the Colorado planted using your directions. The other 3 are Panama Pacific always a great grower and bloomer for me, ,an Arc-en Ciel, and a Mayla. am tempted to repot those 3 but,not sure if I should uproot them again. Jacki

04-30-2009, 08:01 PM
Now that I have my own fertilizer factory (2 mini horses and 1 pygmy goat) I'll be repotting all of my lilies, and into pots with hangers so that I can move them or get them out easier! I have a composting pile that's been cooking for over a year! And it's ready!!!

Swimming Jewel
05-01-2009, 03:37 PM
Lady B, good for you! You just CAN'T beat Osmocote for results! :punk1:

Maybe try gently poking a holes into the dirt of the lilies that need a boost, filling each hole with a tablespoon of Osmocote, and then backfilling the holes with dirt and topping off the hole with a rock for a cork.
Depending on your pot size, probably 2 holes per lily is enough.
Try to get the holes as deep as possible. :cool3:

tnovak, I am using all home made compost this year too. :cool3:
Loks just like rich potting soil minus the perlite. A dark chocolate, almost black-brown. :D:

rad michelle
05-01-2009, 07:53 PM
what i did to add my osmocote to my already potted lilies was to take a funnel with a long neck, something for maybe adding oil to a vehicle, and a stick or longer screw driver...

I poked my finger in the soil to make sure there werent any heavy roots, for the tropicals i tried to get kinda under the crown... and kinda wiggled my finger past everything to get to the bottom of the pot... then i followed with the long neck funnel with the stick inside it to keep the neck from filling with dirt as i poked the funnel to the bottom...

then i pulled the stick out, added my dose of osmo, put the stick back in, and gently pulled the funnel back out while using the stick to push the osmo in the dirt instead of getting stuck in the neck of the funnel and pouring out as i pulled the funnel out. worked like a charm.

08-17-2009, 09:52 AM
Over the years I have read lots of advice for growing pond plants. Some good, most not so good. I have to say your lotus potting mix is absolutely amazing. Early this spring, I started a few lotus from last years seed pods. I gave 4 pots to friends and keep two myself. I planted 2 in regular soil with fertilizer tablets and 4 were done with composted manure with Osmocote. I can not believe the difference, two plants already have flower buds coming up. I have been growing lotus for years and I don't recall ever getting flowers in the first year. I can wait until I repot my other Lotus next spring!! thanks for sharing your knowledge!!!!