Nelumbo lutea

American Lotus

$3.00 - $12.00

1/4 oz.
1/2 oz
1 oz.

Sweet-smelling American Lotus is highly sought-after for its large flowers and decorative dried seed capsules. The large blossoms often span over 10" across. Its creamy white petals fan out from a frilled yellow center. The flowers rise above the waterline on sturdy stems: gorgeous gifts offered from the depths below. Unlike Water Lily leaves which rest on the water's surface, American Lotus foliage extends into the open air. In natural wetland settings, the plant itself is about 6 feet tall, but only 1 to 2 feet is visible above the water.

Waterfowl like Mallards and Northern Shovelers eat the seeds; Muskrats will nibble on the plant. Several native bees and flies visit American Lotus to collect its pollen. Plant American Lotus in calm water with full sun and it will thrive. Oddly enough, it is listed as noxious in some states and endangered in others; MN lists it as protected.

To attempt seed germination, use a file or knife to nick the seed coat and then put in water to germinate (Germination Code O - see corresponding photo. Our seed germinated after about 1 week). 

6 Questions asked on Nelumbo lutea

If I can get it to germinate, then what? Into an aquatic pot with aquatic compost and straight into the pond? Or does it need to grow more before I do that? Thanks for any growing info. On this beauty!
I found some helpful information from the Missouri Botanical Garden: "Easily grown in organically rich loams in calm water margins in full sun. Winter hardy to USDA Zone 4 as long as the roots do not freeze (i.e., water does not freeze down to the roots). For water gardens or small ponds, plant roots in large containers or planting baskets with up to 24” of water covering the crowns. Container grown plants are easier to control and, if desired, to move to other locations. For naturalizing in larger ponds, roots may be anchored directly in the muddy bottom near the water margin where, once established, they will spread and colonize. In fall, containers submerged in very shallow water (less than 6”) should be moved into deeper water or brought indoors (basement, root cellar or other frost-free area) for overwintering"
Do you know if this can be grown in a container?
The Nelumbo lutea is an interesting species because it requires calm standing water to thrive. That being said, starting the species by seed in a container can be achieved, but keep in mind, this species may reach up to 6 feet tall. We have not tried this ourselves, but do know of hobbyists and professionals that have achieved success in very deep containers, like rain barrels. We have read that a container should hold at least 4 feet of water and at least 8 inches of soil in the bottom for roots to establish
Is the root of this lotus edible?
Hi Jody, While we acknowledge the fact that some native plant species are edible, we cannot advise on consumption of plants. I hope you understand.
Is this a noxious or invasive in Michigan?
Hi Kathy. American Lotus is considered aggressive to the point of being noxious primarily along the Northeast coast. Within the state of Michigan, though, this species is actually rather rare.
Where is American Lotus considered native?
Hi Patick, American Lotus is native across much of the Midwest and South Eastern United States. Please look closely at the BONAP Range Map to make sure it is not considered invasive where you live - the pink or teal colored states should be avoided. Nelumbo lutea - American Lotus, BONAP MAP
Not a question, but a comment. Best way I have found to break the seed shell so far is using a pair of vice grips (i used mini) by testing the tightness slowly I managed to just 'crack' the seed shell, it was safe and easy.
Thank you for sharing this, Cori! As long as the "meat" of the seed inside is not squished, the slow, controlled pressure is a great idea!


Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.

Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.

Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.

To learn more, read our BLOG: How to Germinate Native Seeds

Dormant Bare Root Plants

We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.

Download: Installing Your Bare-Root Plants

Potted Plants

3-packs and trays of 32, 38, or 50 plants leave our Midwest greenhouses based on species readiness (being well-rooted for transit) and order date; Spring shipping is typically early May through June, and Fall shipping is mid-August through September. Potted 3-packs and trays of 38 plugs are started from seed in the winter so are typically 3-4 months old when they ship. Trays of 32/50 plugs are usually overwintered so are 1 year old. Plant tray cells are approximately 2” wide x 5” deep in the trays of 38 and 50, and 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep in the 3-packs and trays of 32; ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting & care instructions are included with each order.

Download: Planting and Care of Potted Plants

*PLEASE NOTE: we are a mail order nursery and have no retail facilities, but you may pick up your order if prior arrangements are made. Pick up orders are subject to **MN Sales Tax.

Shipping & Handling Charges

SEED $100.00 and under: $5.00
Retail SEED orders over $100.00 ship free!

Custom seed mixes or discounted seed sales over $100, add 5% of the total seed cost
(for orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required)

BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $9.00
over $50.00: 18% of the total plant cost. (For orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required.)

TOOLS and BOOKS have the shipping fee included in the cost of the product (within the contiguous US).

**We are required to collect state sales tax in certain states. Your state's eligibility and % will be calculated at checkout. MN State Sales Tax of 7.375% is applied for orders picked up at our MN location. Shipping & handling charges are also subject to the sales tax.

Shipping Season

SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within 1-3 business days.

BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.

POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 32/38/50 plugs and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June; shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve). We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May. Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.


We ship using USPS, UPS and Spee Dee. UPS and Spee Dee are often used for expediting plant orders; they will not deliver to Post Office Box numbers, so please also include your street address if ordering plants. We send tracking numbers to your email address so please include it when you order.



Germination Code
Life Cycle
Sun Exposure
Soil Moisture
Bloom Time
July, August, September
Bloom Color
White, Yellow
Bird Favorite: seeds, insects, fruit, nectar, nesting, perch
Highly recommended for home landscaping
USDA Zones
Plant Spacing
Catalog Code