Why are my lily's leaves so tiny?


A reader asks why the leaves on her Nymphaea lotus bulb seem very small and insubstantial. Expert Jordan advises...

Q) I have a Nymphaea lotus bulb, bought online from a reputable aquarium plant dealer in early Q) January. It started to produce leaves almost immediately, but they have all been very small and insubstantial, and all short-stemmed (no more than 1cm at most). The tank is quite deep at 50cm, but I do have plant-rated aquarium LED lights and I fertilise regularly. I have other plants growing well. Am I doing something wrong with it? Also, do I need to take out and 'rest' these bulbs once they've finished at all? If so, any advice on doing this would be welcome.



A) JORDAN SAYS: As your other plants are doing well, maybe the Nymphaea lotus is still adapting to your water parameters. It might be a matter of time for these short stems to become longer, but in order to achieve this goal, be sure to supply it with a full range of macro and micro nutrients. In many cases this species will become dormant for a period of time through the year, and during this time it may only have small leaves or no leaves. I haven’t personally experienced this, but this period of dormancy is common knowledge among other hobbyists that grow this plant.

When planting, don’t place the bulb fully into the substrate and instead plant the bottom portion 25-50% into the soil. However, it may be possible to just lay it on the substrate or on a piece of hardscape as other hobbyists as well as myself, have had success with this method.

Herbaceous perennial in nature, Nymphaea lotus will die back in the colder months and grow back during warmer months. Some people rest the bulb by placing it in a cool damp place sealed in a bag for up to six months, but I have never done so myself as I haven’t felt the need to. Following discussions with other hobbyists, it was recognized that these bulbs can be kept in the tank during their dormancy period and will bloom when ready.