The Lotus tuber must do all the work until the first two or three aerial leaves stand up above the surface of the water. The first few leaves will be coin leaves that sit on the surface of the water.The coin leaves are not what we are talking about when waiting to fertilize.
The first 1 or 2 fertilizer applications should be about half a dose. You can ruin a whole year of lotus enjoyment by over-fertilizing or fertilizing too soon.
For Exquisite of Bowl / Dwarf / Tea Cup lotus, use only one or two pond tablets on the 1st application. Wait 10 days then add 2 or 3 more tablets a few inches from the growing root. If you feel resistance when pushing tabs into the soil then try another spot. You do not want to damage the root.
Medium size Lotus- begin with 3 tablets and increase to 6 or 7 tablets every 2 weeks after 7 or more leaves stand up out of the water
Tall Lotus - first application 3 tablets, followed by 5 ten days later, then 8 to 10 tabs every 2-3 weeks the rest of summer.
Fertilize with tablets every 2-3 weeks until late July or August 1st at the latest.
Lotus will flower with lots of direct sunlight, in water that is not too deep or too cool, and wide pots with proper heavy loam soil. Never use potting soil. Do not apply gravel. DO NOT fertilize until you have aerial leaves growing out of the water.
Exquisite of Bowl/Dwarf/Teacup---8-14 inch wide container
the wider the container, the more flowers!
only 2-3 inches of water above roots*
Dwarf Lotus ----12-16 inch wide container
Only 2-4 inches of water over roots*
Medium Lotus 16 to 24 inch wide containers
Only 3 to 7 inches of water over roots until it is well established, no more than 12 inches deep once established.
Tall Lotus 20 to 36 inch wide containers
Only 5 to 8 inches of water over roots when beginning tubers. 15 inches max, if in a very large pot with an established plant
1.) ONLY the two species: nelumbo Nucifera (aka Sacred lotus) and nelumbo Lutea grown from seed, will you know what plant you are getting. Once a species is crossed with another set of genetics it is a hybrid and you will not have any way to know what species the seeds will grow (it may produce a non-flowering lotus!)
2.) Lotus CANNOT be grown inside unless you have lots of grow lighting.
3.) Lotus Should Not be started early inside (likely to rot, develop mold, become weak)
Divide lotus pots every 2 years before they break dormancy in spring. The thick, hard fleshy tubers at the very bottom of the pot are new dormant plants, the part you keep. Everything black or mushy above them is no good. Be sure each section you divide has 2 or more unbroken chambers.