TIPS FOR ROOTING, PRUNING, AND PROPAGATING LIVE AQUARIUM PLANTS
- Stem Plants – These plants will need to be pruned more often than any other aquarium plant, so you should know how to do it properly. You can prune stem plants by trimming off the top two inches, as long as it is no more than 50% of the plant’s existing length. To propagate, place cut stems in an inch of substrate then relocate them once they’ve grown roots.
- Potted Plants – Most potted plants like crypts and Amazon sword plants require very little maintenance because they tend to grow more slowly than stem plants. If the plant becomes too thick, simply cut off a few leaves at the base of the roots – you should also do this occasionally with yellow or dying leaves. If the plant is growing too tall, remove the taller leaves and let the young leaves grow – don’t cut the leaves directly because it can stress the plant.
- Mosses – Many species of moss are easy to grow, especially with higher nitrate levels. Trimming aquarium moss is pretty straight-forward, though you may need to remove it from the tank to do it. When you replace the moss, anchor it to driftwood or rock to keep it in place.
- Rhizomes – Plants like java fern and anubias are easy to trim and propagate – you simply have to split the rhizome at the base of the plant and root them in the new location.
- Runners – A runner grows out of the base of a parent plant and produces small “slips” on the end. These slips anchor to the substrate and then begin to grow an entirely new plant, one genetically identical to the parent plant. You can either let this happen naturally or you can separate the runner from the plant once it anchors and then transplant it.
- Offsets – An offset is similar to a runner except it usually grows off of the main plant itself, very close to it. You can remove the offset it and plant it somewhere else to propagate the plant.
- Plantlets – In this method, small plantlets actually grow on the parent plant – they can form on any part of the plant such as the roots, nodes, leaves, or stems. Once the plantlet has had a chance to grow a little, it may naturally sever from the parent plant and you can move it. If it hasn’t happened by the time the plantlet grows to 3 or 4 cm, you can remove it and replant it.
These three propagation methods are natural processes, but you can also propagate aquatic plants artificially. One option is to take a cutting and plant it in substrate, so it will grow roots. To do this, take a cutting from the top stem just above a leaf node and then remove any leaves just around the node. You can also artificially propagate certain plants by dividing the rhizome - just take a sharp knife or razor blade and divide the solid rhizome at the base of the plant into two or three sections then root each individual section where you want them. Another option is to propagate by way of seeds, but it is much more difficult to do and is usually only worth it if you plan to grow a large number of plants.
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