Growing Lotus Plants in Sturgeon Bay

Growing Lotus Plants in Sturgeon Bay

Part of Ep. 1904 Around the World in Wisconsin

Travel to Egypt to visit a lotus bog, well actually Sturgeon Bay, but close enough.  Although exotic looking lotus plants are hardy in Wisconsin, care must be taken because they can be invasive as well.  We’ll also meet something else that comes from Egypt - a surprise.

Premiere date: Jun 29, 2011

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley Ryan:
We are continuing with our focus on international gardens right here in Wisconsin.  We are outside of Sturgeon Bay and we’re looking at a lotus bog.  I’m with lotus grower extraordinaire, Lisa Jeansonne.  Why lotus, Lisa?  These seem so exotic. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
Well, they are, Shelley.   But actually the reason I started growing them is because my father used to call my mother “Lotus” as a pet name.  So I grow them in memory of her. 

Shelley Ryan:
Well, that is very special. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
It is.  It’s a special plant to me. 

Shelley Ryan:
Well, is this something that can only be grown in such a large bog? 

Lisa Jeansonne:
Actually, Shelley, they’re very versatile.  Let me know you how I started. 

Shelley Ryan:
Okay. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
I actually started them in containers about this size.  As large as what you can manage.  Just for today though we’re going to plant a lotus tuber in this small container. 

Shelley Ryan:
So we can lift it a little. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
Yes. 

Shelley Ryan:
Okay, so no holes in the bottom. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
No holes in the bottom, because it needs to have water on top of it.  All you have to do, this is how the lotuses come.  This is a lotus tuber. 

Shelley Ryan:
It looks like a banana. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
It does.  And a good one is very hard and firm.  You don’t want a squishy, mushy one. 

Shelley Ryan:
This one’s a little tired. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
It is, but for today. 

Shelley Ryan:
It works. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
It works.  It will work, yes. What we want to do is we want to just take this tuber and set it on the top of the dirt.  There will be a growing tip on the end.  It’s very important that you don’t break that off, because if it gets broken off it will die. 

Shelley Ryan:
Okay, so be very gentle.  We can order these in the spring from lots of places. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
Yes, any aquatic nursery.  There are many different types of lotuses.  But they only ship them in spring when they’re dormant. 

Shelley Ryan:
Okay, so we put it there.  Rocks are for what? 

Lisa Jeansonne:
All we want to do it put a couple of rocks on it.  The most reason for failure is because people bury them too deeply and they rot. 

Shelley Ryan:
So lay it right on top. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
Yes. 

Shelley Ryan:
It’s going to under a couple inches of water, so the rocks are to keep in from floating. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
Correct. 

Shelley Ryan:
Got it, okay. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
And what I do, they’re heavy feeders, I use an aquatic fertilizer tablet.  One tablet, you know, every so many inches.  Follow the directions on the package.  Every two weeks during growing season. 

Shelley Ryan:
And what’s that for? 

Lisa Jeansonne:
This is a flowering tree spike.  That’s what I use in this large outdoor bog. 

Shelley Ryan:
This is stunning but a lot more work.  Why did you switch from these very portable containers to the huge bog? 

Lisa Jeansonne:
Well, the containers are very heavy.  It’s hard on your back to take them in and out of the house for the winter. 

Shelley Ryan:
You’re taking them in because they’re not winter hardy? 

Lisa Jeansonne:
Well, not in a container like this.  You have to bring them inside so they don’t freeze. 

Shelley Ryan:
Because they freeze solid in a container. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
Right. 

Shelley Ryan:
So outside, they are winter hardy. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
They are. 

Shelley Ryan:
Oh, cool. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
This is my lotus bog.  What we did, is we dug a 12-foot circular hole, with a machine of course, not by hand.  We put in a rubber liner.  You can use roofing material for this, because it’s just a lotus bog.  You’re not dealing with fish or anything like that . 

Shelley Ryan:
So, it’s not a pond.  There’s no recirculating of water.  There’s no pump. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
Right, it’s very simple, very green. 
Shelley Ryan:
And it’s how deep is it? 

Lisa Jeansonne:
This is three feet deep. 

Shelley Ryan:
Okay, all Righty.  So then you put all the dirt back. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
That’s right. 

Shelley Ryan:
And you said they’re heavy feeders, so are you adding anything else to it? 

Lisa Jeansonne:
What
We did is we put the dirt back in and them we put about six inches of composted manure.  You can get at your local stores.  Or if you have a friend with some composted manure, put that in.  Put some dirt back on top, and set the lotuses in just as we had done in here. 

Shelley Ryan:
Right on the surface with rocks. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
Right on the surface. 

Shelley Ryan:
Then you use the fertilizer spikes. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
That’s right. 

Shelley Ryan:
Okay, any winter clean up or spring clean up? 

Lisa Jeansonne:
I don’t do anything for them in the winter time.  I just sort of let them go dormant.  Ten in the spring I clean any dead foliage off. 

Shelley Ryan:
What variety are we looking at here? 

Lisa Jeansonne:
This is Mrs. Perry Slocum.  It’s a large variety.  It’s a changable variety. 
Shelley Ryan:
What does that mean?  This is a new bloom here? 

Lisa Jeansonne:
Yes, this just opened today, just for you. 

Shelley Ryan:
Oh, thank you! 

Lisa Jeansonne:
And the other bloom, that is it’s third day. 

Shelley Ryan:
The yellow, the paler one in the back? 

Lisa Jeansonne:
Yes. 

Shelley Ryan:
So it changes that much? 

Lisa Jeansonne:
It does.  From very pink to very pale. 

Shelley Ryan:
Now you’ve got one here.  This one is almost completely done and I can see the lotus pods starting to form in the middle, and again how exotic that looks. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
It is.  They’re very photogenic as well.  The leaves will all fall from that stem and you’ll be left with a seedpod, which will continue to grow over the summer.  

Shelley Ryan:
So that will look like the classic huge pods. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
Exactly.  The seeds are about the size of a jelly bean inside. 

Shelley Ryan:
Wow.  But look, even this is exotic.  I mean, look at the leaves. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
Isn’t that fun? 

Shelley Ryan:
It looks like mercury almost. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
They are water repellant.  The water just sort of dances on them like mercury. 

Shelley Ryan:
There are other varieties if we want? 

Lisa Jeansonne:
There are.  You can get dwarf ones if you want them on a patio deck.  This is actually a large variety. 

Shelley Ryan:
Now these are invasive if we let them loose. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
You’re right.  Put them in a container it you want to put them in a pond.  But if you want to put them in the ground, make sure it’s a lined. 

Shelley Ryan:
Don’t put them just plant them in a dirt pond, or out in the stream where they can take off. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
Exactly. 

Shelley Ryan:
Now these come from? 

Lisa Jeansonne:
These are from Egypt. 

Shelley Ryan:
Well and there’s a rumor that you grow other things from Egypt.  Large things. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
Yes, well I’ve been known to like large things.  But in addition to the lotuses from Egypt, we have coming in right now our camel Harley, with my husband Ken. 

Shelley Ryan:
Who is suddenly acting up!  

Lisa Jeansonne:
Who is all sort of happy to be here. 

(Shelley laughing)
Shelley Ryan:
Hey, come here cutie. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
He says, oh boy, oh boy. 

Shelley Ryan:
How about a carrot for you?  Hi sweetheart. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
This is Harley. 

Shelley Ryan:
So you’re showing off for us, are you?  Can you dance too? 

Lisa Jeansonne:
Our resident clown, yes. 

Shelley Ryan:
So, how did you end up with lotuses and a camel from Egypt?  Hi baby. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
Well, I wanted one for a long time.  And about four years ago, we came across him and the opportunity to get him.  He is just the most wonderful pet in the world. 

Shelley Ryan:
Well, and I understand you’re a big baby, but a big show off too. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
He is. 

Shelley Ryan:
Well, you know, this is what I love about Wisconsin gardeners.  You never know what you’re going to find growing in their back yards. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
You’re right. 

Shelley Ryan:
You are a show off.  Thank you, Lisa. 

Lisa Jeansonne:
Thank you, Shelley. 

Shelley Ryan:
Well, Harley, I think that’s our cue to walk off in to the sunset.  You know, if you squint your eyes, it almost does look like Egypt.  For more information please check out our website at
wpt.org/garden.  I’m Shelley Ryan.  Thanks for watching the “Wisconsin Gardener.”  Hey, Harley, how about a kiss?  Thanks.  Shall we go?  Off into the sunset together. 

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