Originating from a land of mystical culture, the Lotus Flower has always been a part of lives in India. For the Indian psyche, it symbolizes purity which comes out from the dirt.
Ganesh Kumar Anandhakrishnan is an aspiring tropical Lotus hybridiser from the Kerala State of Southern India. He has been breeding and hybridising Lotus for the past six years, learning from Dr. Daike Tian. For the first time ever, he writes about his passions, here on the Mr Plant Geek website!
“Looking back at my childhood days, offering beautifully-made lotus garlands to Lord Vishnu was a part of the rituals at our Hindu temple, and we believed this would make our wishes come true. The power and magnetism of this flower is so intense that I completely fell for it, even after maturing enough to differentiate myth and science.
The diversity of Lotus in Asia is so extensive that more than 2000 cultivars have been developed, ranging from micro to large. The majority were created in China and Thailand. The Indian native Lotus was not really focused on much. This took me on a quest to discover the diversity of the Lotus genus within my country. This would give me an opportunity to understand the plant, and to learn about it’s diversity of lotus, ranging from temperate to tropical ecotypes.
Aquatic gardening is a relatively new concept to the Indian gardeners. We hardly ever see Lotus plants for sale in garden centres or nurseries. Since it was always considered to be a sacred flower, bound to temple ponds or lakes, it was rare to see this plant in Indian home gardens. Many believed that Lotus, the queen of flowers, is hard to tame and could be grown only in specific conditions.
Lotus requires full sunlight for more than 6 hours a day, and a temperature range of 25-30 degrees celsius. Almost all native Lotus are large cultivars and will be reluctant to bloom in a confined space.. The rapid urbanization and desire to install greenery in a limited space made me think of creating a type of hybrid that would grow in small to medium containers, and would be adaptable to all climatic zones of the country.
As the tropical Lotus has better adaptability towards the Indian climate, then a cross between the temperate and tropical Lotus would produce hybrids with highly desirable characteristics. The first hybrid I created was a small to medium cultivar, being named in 2015 after my mother, Nelumbo ‘Ala Melu’.
Breeding has brought some exciting variations to the genus. I have created more compact plants, characterised by increased petal counts and dazzling colours!
Here are a few more of my creations:
To say the least, my whole journey with one of the most beautiful specimens on earth, the Lotus, has been equally beautiful. It is a journey which I believe everyone needs to take at least once in a lifetime, especially you, as you are reading this right now! After all, I believe the Lotus have their own ways of sending signs to blessed souls whose lives they want add beauty and colour to.
Ganesh maintains a Facebook Group called Nymphaea and Nelumboan, along with his friend Somnath Pal, an avid water lily collector and aspiring hybridiser from Mumbai. Together, their wish is to promote water gardening to the enthusiast as well as the beginner. You can also find more information by following Ganesh on his blog.