Stem Pant Primer: A How To Guide, Part 2
In its natural form, L. repens, called Creeping Ludwigia in shops, is quite variable. Most commonly it has light olive green rounded leaves on the surface with a reddish underside. Roots sprout from leaf nodes.
Reaching 20 inches, L. repens grows very quickly in most tanks. Bright light and regular trimming will keep it healthy. Temps are 68-82 (20-28C).
Called Red Star or Glandular Ludwigia, L. glandulosa comes from our southern states. Reaching up to 12 inches, glandulosa has dark green, two inch leaves with a white vein down the center. Underside is a rich purplish red. Good light, Co2 and chelated iron will keep that color.
Ludwigia helminthorrhiza is an excellent floating plant, of which we have few. Medium-green slightly pointed oval leaves typify this species. It spreads via its stem, which grows horizontally across the surface. The trailing roots add a bit of jungle to your tank when viewed from below. Leaves are 1.5 to 2 inches long.
It is important that a tank containing this species have a cover glass, to keep the air humid, and also have bright light for it. Liquid fertilization is recommended. Well situated, it spreads quickly. Trimmed when it gets too large, pieces can be given to other aquarium keepers. Bettas love this plant.
With short, translucent, pearl-like leaves, L. arcuta is idea for the mid-ground of a well landscaped tank. It quickly turns itself into a bush, and will need judicious trimming to keep it in shape. A hardy plant for any new planted aquarium.
All Ludwigias do best in the mid to upper 70's (up to 26C).
Ammania, most commonly sold as A. gracilus, has grass-like, upright leaves on a red-brown stem. Its the character of these four-inch leaves that make the plant popular; green, brown and red on the same plant. Bright light and a good, loose substrate intensify those colors. Hailing from Africa and called Delicate or Red Amannia in the trade, gracilus can grow to 20 inches, though some stems will top out at 10. It will grow moderate to fast, depending on the conditions. Temps are 72-82 (22-28C).
Gracilus is commonly planted in front of plants with light green leaves for contrast. It spreads by side shoots and by cutting.
The Bacopas are fleshy-leaved plants that have been popular in the hobby for over 70 years. In reality a marsh plant, Bacopa grows slowly submerged, but in clear, clean water and under bright light, Bacopa commonly blooms in aquariums if planted out in the open in well-spaced (about 2 inches) groups.
Most common is Giant Bacopa; B. caroliniana from the southern US and Central America. Highly adaptable and quite hardy, if happy, a lovely white four or five petaled flower will be produced on a long tendril reaching for the surface.
When crushed, the leaves have a scent between new-mown grass and sage.
Caroliniana grows from 8 to 16 inches, occasionally more. It prefers soft water but can adapt to most setups. It can be kept in cooler water, down to 72, though does best at 75 to 77 degrees.
The West African Bacopa monnieri is sold as Baby Tears or Dwarf Bacopa. More delicate in appearance than the former, monnieri is tolerant of varied water conditions, but ideally very bright light, regular fertilization, a good substrate and Co2 will have this plant looking its best. In such surroundings a lilac-purple flower will be produced as the plant eventually reaches 20 inches tall. Only very bright light will keep it compact; otherwise the plant will be leggy and weak. Judicious pruning will keep it in shape. Monnieri prefers temps between 72 and 86.
Water-loving is what Hygrophila means, and describes several species available to the planted tank enthusiast. However one of the best, H. polysperma, is no longer available in the US, as it has been placed on the Federal Noxious Weed List. Other countries may be able to obtain it.
Highly adaptable, in good conditions polysperma can reach 20 inches. Dark green, white veined lanceolate leaves typify this species, whose exceptional adaptability doomed it in America. Ideally, great light and conditions will make it thrive. It spreads by cuttings and side shoots. A great plant for beginners.
Giant Hygrophila. H. corymbosa, comes to us from India and Indonesia. Also called Nomaphila stricta, corymbosa is very popular due to its beauty and adaptability. It'll grow in nearly any substrate and isn't fussy about water quality. The light green spade-like leaves look like those from an terrestrial tree.
Corymbosa is commonly planted in the corners of aquariums as the plant looks out of place otherwise.
H. difformis, called Water Wisteria, hails from Southeast Asia, and is quite variable in appearance. At lower temperatures (75 degrees, 24 C) the leaves are thicker and smaller. Warmer, up to 82 (28C) its a lighter green with large, (more than four inches) highly divided leaves. Too little light will cause it to drop its leaves, and snails find it quite tasty, but Wisteria is lovely plant. It prefers temps in the upper 70's (about 25C) and slowly grows to 20 inches tall. It can be reproduced by cuttings and side shoots.
H. guianensis, from Guiana, is a bit more difficult to grow than other Hygrophilas. It will fail unless given bright light, plenty of space between stems, a very good substrate, and Co2. Given them, it can be expected to thrive. The light green, plainly veined leaves can reach more than four inches and be nearly an inch across.
Guianensis tops out at 10 inches (25 cm) and prefers temps between 72 and 82 (22-28C).
The Rotalas are an Asian genus with several striking species for the aquarium.
Perhaps the most popular and most challenging to keep is Rotala macranda, the Giant Red Rotala. The crumpled paper-like leaves can be deep red, brown, yellow and green if the plant gets what it needs; an iron-rich substrate and 4+watts-per-gallon of full spectrum light.
Plant macranda carefully, as the stems are easily damaged. Planted in groups, with shorter stems in front as an accent plant, macranda has few equals.
Macranda reaches 20 inches tall and needs temperatures between 77-82 degrees (25-30C).
Dwarf Rotala, L. rotundifolia has small, dark olive leaves on a dark green stem. Reaching 20 inches tall, dwarf Rotala grows well in a planted aquarium substrate and bright light. Fairly easy to keep, dwarf Rotala is a pretty plant for the background of your tank. Cuttings should be four inches or more to make sure they take. Given 4+ wpg, upper leaves can turn an attractive pinkish-red color.
Temps are 68-82 (20-28C). At low temps, dwarf Rotala's growth may slow down and stop.
Looking more like a Myrophyllium than a Rotala, R. wallichi is an attractive rusty red in excellent surroundings (iron-rich substrate, bright light, soft water). Many prize-winning planted tanks use this plant as a graduated background. Given sympathetic surroundings, wallachi isn't a tender plant. Reaching 16 or more inches, wallachi is procreated by judicious cuttings. It like temperatures between 72 and 86 degrees (22-30C). To my experience, it grows best at 77.
Called Water Hedge, the North America native Diplidis diandra winds up our list. Reaching about a foot tall, diandra when established branches out from its stems, making a real bush of itself in short order. In very bright light, the top leaves turn a rusty red. Water Hedge does best in soft water with an iron-ruch substrate, regular fertilization and full-spectrum light. Its doesn't do well at all in hard water. Temps between 75-82 (24-28C) suit this species.
There are several more stem plants available to the planted tank enthusiast. I encourage to seek out and learn about the plants listed above, so you, too can develop a 'wet thumb'.
Last edited by Dave66; 10-02-2007 at 08:36 AM.
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Very nice article. Again very helpful and easy to read. Great information.