While the National flower is dwindling day by day, you can create your own lotus garden and even rejuvenate the environment, says Radha Prathi.
Lotus was perhaps chosen as our national flower for its rampant presence that captured the imagination of all genres of Indians alike. There is possibly not a form of art, architecture or literature sans the mention of the flower and its exotic qualities since times immemorial. Yet this flower is becoming a rare sight these days as it blooms only in natural marshes which are dwindling in numbers. Yet if you are an avid gardener, who has a small garden space, you could grow these extraordinary flowers in therein by simulating the natural home of lotuses for a season. You can always procure lotus seeds from Lal Bagh or any other horticultural center.
Before you launch your project of growing lotuses, make sure to check the basic criterion required to grow these divine flowers. The best time to start lotus planting is either in summer or winter, for the rainy season is a strict no-no. The exercise of growing lotuses is a lengthy affair and involves at least a fortnight’s work by way of setting the scene. The smallest lotus pool should measure at least two square feet, no matter which geometrical shape you choose to grow them in. First of all locate the spot, preferably under the vacant sky or in a spot where there are a few overhanging branches because these flowers do well when exposed to ample sunlight.
Once the point is decided, chalk out a geometrical pattern of your choice and dig a small pit which has a depth of a minimum of two feet. For the first few days fill the pit with plain water twice or thrice a day so that the bottom of the pit becomes marshy. You will sometimes find the earth posing as side walls caving in sometimes and raising the bed of the pit, but you do not have to do anything about it. In a couple of days, the water will tend to stagnate. Once your lotus pond reaches this state, remember it is time to excavate the pit once again so that it regains its pre-planned form and allow it to dry till the mucky soil dries up and starts appearing flakey.
Keep some of this soft soil aside, for you will need to plough it into the pit. Then plaster the earth walls of the pit on all sides including the base, with cow dung and allow it to dry. Repeat this exercise for a week or ten days to lend strength to the earth walls so that your lotus pool retains its shape through the flowering season.
Then place lotus seeds in the bed and pour a layer of soil over the seeds and keep the bed wet (do not fill it up with water) till the seeds germinate. Once the first leaflet unfolds start adding water to the pit gently till it fills up, every single day. Soon you will find the lotus plant thriving and the rainy season will have set in by then to nourish your precious lotuses. In fact you will find that the lotuses bloom bigger and better after the first rains.
It is possible that you might have seen water flowers like lotuses and lilies grown in large cement tanks and terracotta bowls by ace gardeners, who create a boggy base for their flowers by filling it for an inch or two with soft, stone free soil. People living in high-rise buildings could opt for this method of growing the flowers.
However, those who have the privilege of garden space, will do well if they choose growing these flowers in the process described, for it not only allows the flowers to grow in a replicated natural environment, but charges up the ground water. Moreover, if the lotus pond is located in your garden you will find the other plants flourishing because the moisture of the soil is retained in a balanced manner. The environment also cools down noticeably.
Over a period of time silting is likely to make your pond shallow, but it will not hamper the flowers. You could grow lilies also in a similar manner.
For best results keep changing the location of the lotus pond every other year.