Water Lily VS Lotus – (Similarities, Differences and Potting)

The water lily vs. lotus argument is one of the most popular discussion topics out there for gardeners. The reason is that both plants are common in various settings such as gardens, indoor grow pots, and other similar settings. 

However, what are the main differences between water lily vs. lotus?

The main difference between lotus and little is that the former plant version sits flat on the water. However, lotus leaves often grow four feet above the water. Furthermore, lily blooms tend to float on the water’s surface, while lotus grows from inside the water. The lotus flowers feature a barrel-shaped carpel in a large receptacle compared to the lily plants. 

Water Lily vs. Lotus Comparison Chart

Below is a chart that identifies all the specific aspects you should consider in the water lily vs. lotus argument:

Parameters of ComparisonLilyLotus
FamilyNymphaeaceae.Nelumbinaceae family.
Origin locationNorth AmericaNorthern sections of India.
Preferred HabitatGrows in muddy regions such as streams and ponds.Water bodies such as ponds and swamps.
Petals shapeSmall with a tapered structure on the ned section.Large, broad, and blunt on the end section.
Water conditionsFresh waterFresh water

What is Water Lily?

water lily vs lotus tattoo
Source: Unsplash.

Lily refers to a plant that blooms and comes from the Lilaceae genus family known as Lilium. The plants are common in Asia, North America, and Europe. It also exists in various species, with most of them having flowers that can have many different colors. 

These include orange, red, yellow, and pink. The plant has also existed for many years and is famous in Greek Mythology.  

Water lily is also from the Nelumbo water little genus and has shieldlike leaves that project out above the water. The unique appearance of the water lily vs lotus tattoo also makes it common among many people today.

So what does the water lily symbolize?

According to the Greek stories, the main water lily meaning plant came from the breast milk of Hera, who was the wife of Zeus. However, the story contradicts Roman mythology, suggesting that the Goddess of Splendor was the one responsible for creating the plant. 

The plant has also been a crucial aspect of Minoan culture, with most of them appearing in the Crete House.

Even though there are various types of tropical water lilies, the most popular one is the Sunset species. 

The plant has a unique appearance that consists of unique hues of red and green foliage. Some even have pink and yellow petals, thus ranking them high up among some of the most appealing plants in the world. 

The stem of water lily also features stalks that arise from the thick fleshy underwater that sit underneath the mud. Plus, they tend to have fragrant and solitary flowers that sit on top of the water surface and have a cup-like flower with a spiral petal arrangement.

Water Lillies also feature two main categories, which include the 

  • Hard water lilies, which can have blooms averaging between 7 to 13 inches in size.
  • The blue lilies, which can grow to between 9 and 12 inches, with the common ones being the Helvola and Blue Aster species.

What is Lotus?

difference between lotus and water lily seeds
Source: Unsplash.

The Nelumbonaceae family refers to water plants that also include the lotus species. The characteristic appearance of the plant features leaves that bloom above the water. 

Contrary to how water lilies grow, lotus grows by spreading and floating on the surface of the water.

Additionally, lotus plants tend to be larger than their counterparts, the water lilies. The plants also tend to grow to heights of up to about 9 inches long, with leaves that can reach the 37-inch mark. 

The most notable drawback, which is also a variation, is the requirements for the plant to bloom. Unlike water lilies which might exist in direct sunlight or partial shade, lotuses require more than sufficient light to bloom. 

The Bali Red Lotus species is the most common species in this category. We recommend you access some water lily vs. lotus images to get more insight into the differences these plants share.

It features dark red blooms that come in the winter and can often grow up to four feet tall. The ideal setting for the plant to blossom involves long durations of bright and warm weather. The plant will also require good quality soil.

Lotus is also much more challenging to cultivate than the water lily species. The care and feeding of lotus plants also require much more effort than the previous plant.

Similarities Between Water Lily and Lotus

Below is a list of some specific similarities that water lily and lotus plants share:

  • Water lily and lotus plants are species of aquatic flowering plants that are common in the horticulture industry.
  • Both plants grow in freshwater.
  • The water lily vs. lotus symbolism is common among many Asian cultures.
  • Both plants have long stems, circular-shaped leaves, and tubed roots.
  • Both plants feature flowers that have several colored and wide-shaped petals.
  • They mostly rely on insect pollination.
  • Both plants are famous for having appealing colors and a fragrant smell.

Differences Between Water Lily and Lotus

water lily species
Source: Unsplash.

While similar in various instances, water lily and lotus plants are different in various ways, including:

  • Family. Water lily belongs to the Nymhaecea family, while lotus exists in the Nelumbonacea family.
  • Origins. Water lily is a plant native to North America, while the lotus is from a much more geographical region, including Asia and the Americas.
  • Habitat. While the water lily prefers environments with mud, such as ponds and shallow streams, lotus grows in swamps and shallow ponds.
  • Hardiness zones. Water lily grows in USDA zones 10 and 11, while lotus develops in USDA zones 5 to 9.
  • Height. While water lilies tend to be short, lotus plants are much longer.
  • Leaf structure. Water lilies have a distinct leaf structure, while lotus plants have a complete circle.
  • Leaf color. Water lily leaves have a variaged appearance, with most of them appearing dark purple. The lotus leaves 2-foot-wide standing leaves. These leaves get support from 3- to 6-foot-long stems that hold the leaves well above the water level.
  • Epidermis. Even though water lily has leaves with a waxy cuticle, lotus has a trichome structure.
  • The water lily petals tend to be small, compact, and tapered on the end section of the leave. However, the petals of lotus flowers tend to be wide and blunt.
  • The petals of water lily are denser than the petals of lotus flowers which are significantly thin.
  • The color of water lily petals is white or rose, while lotus flowers have a white or pink appearance.
  • Water lily features three unique carpels, while lotus has a barrel-shaped carpel structure. The carpel of the lotus plant also sits inside an expanded receptacle.

Potting Water Lilies and Lotus 

water lily vs lotus tattoo
Source: Unsplash.

The planting instructions are different for hardy and tropical water lilies. The reason is that water lilies require the same potting procedures as other annual plants. Plus, these plants exist as bare root plants. 

You can set them in the central section of a container and allow the plant’s crown to rest on the soil surface. If you have hardy lilies, set the rhizome at a 45-degree angle and ensure the growing tip faces the middle section of the pot. 

It should also rest slightly above the soil level. Next, cover the soil with some gravel or a thin sand layer.

Set the lotus in a plastic pot sized for the water feature and the ideal plant size. Usually, lotus grows to match the average size of a container. You might have to start with an average of 2 inches of sand, then with about 4 inches of topsoil with some clay.

Create a small trench using your hand, and then set the lotus plant tuber in the trench with the leaves facing upwards. Then, cover the tube gently using a small amount of soil. However, avoid compacting the soil and let it sit naturally. 

Ensure you are also careful enough to avoid damaging the runners and tubers that grown from the tuber. Finally, add water to the setup until the soil becomes saturated with mud, and don’t let and puddling sit on top.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the Difference between Lotus and Water Lily Seeds?

There are various differences between lotus and water lily seeds. Water lily seeds are stored in the bulb of water lily flowers. However, the water lotus seeds are stored in the roots, which grow parallel to the structure of the flowers.

Is Lotus the Same as Water Lily?

Water lilies and lotuses are plants that have specific variations. The water lilies grow on or just above he water, and usually have an extensive colour range. However, the lotus plants grow above the water , and often feature pink flowers.

Difference between Lotus and Water Lily Leaves

There are various differences between lotus and water lily leaves. The leaves of lily flowers tend to have thick and waxy appearence. However, the leaves of the lotus plant tend to have a papery and thin structure.

And there we have it! Thats all you need to know in the water lily vs lotus argument. While both plants share various similarities, they are also crucial differences to consider. 

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