When will the lotus bloom again in Echo Park Lake? Check back in 2015

Echo Park lotus bed in 2005. Photos by Martin Cox

When Echo Park Lake’s clean up is  completed next year, one of the last jobs of the $65 million project will be the replanting of the legendary lotus bed that once bloomed in the northwest corner of the lake.  The lotus, which by some accounts were  believed to be planted during the late 1920s, died off about four years ago, with a city report unable to pinpoint what  killed the floating bed of floppy green leaves and pom-pom sized blooms.  Biologists and others working on the $65 million Echo Park Lake project  said at one point that the new lotus bed could be replanted with different varieties of lotus, which would bloom in different shades of color instead of the uniform pink and cream flowers that had grown in the lake.  So, what kind of lotus will bloom anew in Echo Park Lake?  Apparently officials in charge decided to stick with tradition.

Michelle Vargas, a spokeswoman for the city’s Public Works department, said the city will order 92 tubers and 286, four-gallon containers of what’s called Sacred Lotus – Nelumbo nucifera – to duplicate the now dead lotus bed.  The blooms from the plants supplied by an aquatic nursery will stick with the pink-and-cream color palate.  A new observation platform on the Glendale Boulevard side of the lake will provide park visitors with an elevated view of the flowers.

But Echo Park lotus lovers will have be patient. Even though the new lotus will be planted sometime next year, it will take at least two years for the plants to establish themselves, Vargas said.


  1. Please remove the comma splice in “286, four-gallon containers.”

  2. Weren’t you in that song, volay voo cochere avec moi, Sisquoc?

  3. Why do I. get the feeling this whole ” Revitilization ” Project was the result of of Someone just having it up to their Eyeballs in Gackles, and Cormorants, and Geese, and Soft Tacos, and Little Ceasars Pizza, and Doves, and Alois Saint-Martin, and Rainy Days and Mondays ?

  4. I’m pretty sure the bed got slammed by cold weather. The year it first got hit hard was a very very cold winter. That can weaken plants and subsequently make them susceptible to all kinds of pathogens which finish the job in later years.

    • Hard to prove that at a certain time cold weather will weaken the Lotus plants. Being in water Lotus plants are relatively immune from frost. I don’t think there ever was an ice layer over the Lotus area even though it is shallow and relatively calm water.

      I hope it isn’t from being weakened by sucking insects (that imperil the grape plants) or some virus. Maybe some of the lotus root harvesters (yes asians do eat lotus root) went too far into harvesting the lotus roots?

  5. Doubt that harvesting could kill entire bed — it was there for decades and was as permanent as an artificial lake’s bed could be. Doubt also that cold killed them off, as we’ve had cold winters over and over.

    I would wager it was a few issues and conditions, combined to bring beds to tipping point and they collapsed catastrophically. I’d pass by after they disappeared, was surprised nary a shoot poked up. We all know how hard it is to get rid of invasive bamboo, pampas grass, the other exotics that have taken hold here in So. Cal.

    Total disappearance of lotuses, imho, needed a few bad things working together.

  6. I cut a small leader off of one of the plants in 2005 and cultivated 13 five gallon pots of the Echo Park lotus. At the time I told my fiancee that if anything should happen to the lotus in Echo Park, at least I have some stock to reintroduce to the lake. My company, McDonald’s Aquatic Nursery will be delivering almost 300 4.5 gallon pots of the historical Asian Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) to the lake to be planted in February, 2013. I have never seen any problem of any kind with the stock we are using. They are a very strong, hardy, and vigorous lotus and I am happy to know that I had the insight to keep a population going so that they can thrive once again in the future of the lake.

  7. As far as an opinion, based on my own personal experience with lotus is concerned, as to why they died: The lotus bed grew about five times its size in 1998 and took up all of the space available (they won’t grow in the deeper parts of the lake). They will grow like a weed, looking for nutrient in every possible niche of the planting bed. It has been stated that the lotus bed hadn’t been maintained for 20 years. Lotus are tremendous feeders of nutrient! When there is no nutrient added, they start to fade out. When people start disturbing them by cutting the tubers for use as food and bruising the growing tips of others, by just bumping into them, then that leader will die and start a fermentation like a compost pile. As there isn’t enough nutrient and there are small composting piles building from the decaying damaged lotus, the entire planting starts to succumb. This is especially true when there are no more fresh areas to grow over in search of new places to root and find nutrients. The only thing that was certain is that the entire bed was choked up with old, rotting leader stems that hadn’t been removed in twenty years. People were damaging them and cutting out tubers to use as food. Add to that the fact that there wasn’t any kind of fertilizing program and no new areas to root into and find what they needed to survice and it is no surprise that they finally decided to call it quits.

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