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Grouping Plants


  1. plant groupings
    by Steve Pushak <teban/> (Fri, 04 Sep 1998)
  2. Maintaining Groups of Plants
    by "Alysoun McLaughlin" <alysoun.mclaughlin/> (Fri, 4 Sep 1998)
  3. plant groupings
    by Eric Deese <edeese/> (Fri, 4 Sep 1998)
  4. plant groupings
    by John Griffith <john.griffith/> (Fri, 04 Sep 1998)
  5. plant groupings
    by Tom Petersen <peter334/> (Fri, 4 Sep 1998)

plant groupings

by Steve Pushak <teban/>
Date: Fri, 04 Sep 1998

Roger S. Miller hallucinated and wrote:
> It's been a slow week here on the APD, and I'm starting to suffer symptoms
> of plant-email deprivation.  My deprivation-induced hallucinations have
> even lead me to believe that there was a large, conversational response to
> my letter of last Sunday wherein I called for information about maintaining
> groups of plants.  Being the usually friendly type, I'm going to continue
> that conversation, hence this note about maintaining groups of
> Cryptocoryne wendtii.

Perhaps you have a small stand of C. sativa in there Roger? That could
induce the hallucinations. :-)

> Crypts as a family have a reputation as slow-growing, conservative plants.
> Some members of the family have the added problem of being difficult to
> grow.  C. wendtii is a relatively slow-growing plant, but it's one of the
> easiest crypts to keep. While the individual plants are slow growing and
> conservative, but groups of C. wendtii can be very aggressive.

Hmmm... I've never found C. wendtii to be particularly slow growing in
comparison to other Crypts. If you fertilize the substrate especially
with clay and fertilizer, this plant can grow quite rapidly.

> New plants arise from root runners.  Generally the new plants appear very
> close to the parent plant, and sometimes it just looks like the plant has
> spread out a little when actually there are two or more plants present.

I concur with this observation.

> The C. wendtii stands in two of my tanks requires no additional
> maintenance.  The stand in a third tank tends to drop older leaves.  I can
> leave those and they quickly melt away, but the dying leaves detract from
> the appearance of the group and I prefer to remove them when I first see
> them fade - when the leaf blade begins to yellow and the petiole curls.

That seems to be a problem with many kinds of Crypts although they look
better if you can keep conditions right so that they don't start to melt
from too bright of light or a change in lighting.

> Gad, this deprivation-induced hallucination is starting to fade, and it
> looks like I just responded to my own post.  Groan...this is
> embarassing.

I've done it before. (not the hallucination part, the replying to myself

> Does anyone else have something they'd like to add about maintaining
> groups of plants?  I'm looking especially for experience with other
> crypts, small groups of stem plants and "carpet" plants.

I've noticed that there is a big difference between how rapidly some
kinds of Crypts spread and the way in which they send out runners.

I have a medium sized brown Crypt which I think is C bullosa (check out
the picture at ( This
plant sends runners out with new plants several inches away from the
parent plant. 

The green C wendtii (also pictured on in the PicketFence/4275 page) is
quite different. It grows into a dense thicket and doesn't spread much
at all. This is far more preferable if you want a grouping that doesn't
invade other parts of the tank. 

The upside of the C bullosa is that its easy to separate daughter plants
to sell or give away. C blassi, the huge Crypt, sends out thick runners
that surface 6" to a foot away. 

C crispatula (balansae) also sends out runners that make daughter plants
3-6 inches away.

C parva is very slow growing although I've not tried to stimulate it
much with fertilization. It spreads a few inches at a time but takes

C nurii is very very slow growing and I have not seen it send out a
runner yet although when I last moved one it had a very nice thick
rhizome going. We recently obtained a large selection of C nurii in a
shipment and all of these were made from cuttings which had a few white
roots on them. I think that these were grown emersed into dense thickets
and then uprooted and separated with a knife for propagation. Currently,
this plant is not too happy with me because I'm giving it more light
than it would like and it simply is not able to adjust. I also suspect
that this new MH bulb, a 5000K, has more actinic light which stimulates
photosynthesis too much and this causes the plant tissue to melt. 

Has ANYBODY read the latest article in TAG on crypt melting??? Nobody
has commented on this yet so I may have to resort to replying to my own
message too! Wait... I think I can see responses now, yes dozens of
them... floating up before me like ghostly images on the CRT... ;-)

Steve Pushak                              Vancouver, BC, CANADA 

Visit "Steve's Aquatic Page"
 for LOTS of pics, tips and links for aquatic gardening!!!

Maintaining Groups of Plants

by "Alysoun McLaughlin" <alysoun.mclaughlin/>
Date: Fri, 4 Sep 1998

>Does anyone else have something they'd like to add about maintaining
>groups of plants?  I'm looking especially for experience with other
>crypts, small groups of stem plants and "carpet" plants.
>Roger Miller

As I've mentioned before, I'm a compulsive redecorator.  However, my basic
design stays pretty constant.  Tall curtains of rotala, hygro sp.,
watersprite, or anything else that's tall and full in back; a centerpiece
plant or two, individual plants/small groupings spread throughout, and a
carpet of dwarf sag in front.

Background groups --
I trim them just below the surface of the water (occasionally let them
spread across, for effect) and plant top trimmings, of staggered heights, in
front of the group.

The rotala is great for this.  Every few months, I need to uproot the group
and thin out the scrawnier strands,  but on the whole, it's self-sustaining.
I trim more or less weekly.

The hygro, however, is a pain.  It will look great for a few weeks, and then
the roots start.  Overgrown rotala looks fine, it just blocks some of the
light to other plants.  Overgrown hygro, though, looks like a mess when the
roots start growing down.  I'm constantly camouflaging the root growth on
the plants in back, by planting top trimmings in front, and it's like a game
of roulette, guessing whether the roots are going to set in, or the plant
will grow for a while without them.

I've kept individual plants, not groups, of crypts and the like.  Not much
room for large groups of them in a small tank, and my design concept hasn't
changed, now that I've moved up to a 75 gallon.

I've got a carpet of dwarf sag, which spreads like mad.  It doesn't seem to
choke out other plants, though.  There's a nice visual transition, from the
dwarf sag (1" tall plants), to the larger variety (3-4" tall plants) to the
medium-sized swords and crypts.  I haven't confronted many 'issues' with
keeping the sag as a group, except that it collects debris.  A couple of
corys have helped with this, though.

Alysoun McLaughlin
Wheaton, Maryland

plant groupings

by Eric Deese <edeese/>
Date: Fri, 4 Sep 1998

OK Roger, you've gotten me to bite on this one. Your comment
that crypts are usually referred to as slow growing, etc. is
likewise counter to my experience with Cryptocoryne petchii
and also Sagitarria subulata, once they get established in
"clumps". I further agree with your technique of initially
planting three or more individual plants within close proximity. 
You mention one to two inches, but my best experience is at one
inch apart. The time required to form into a grouping is
accelerated the closer they are initially.

I have one 40G tank that is pretty much overrun by C. petchii
and S. subulata in this fashion. I have to severely thin out
both plants on a regular basis. My technique for thinning is
very similar to your description of controlling them within
a fixed area. I do find that if I remove too many plants at
one time, recovery takes much longer. However, once a critical
density of plants is reached, growth is explosive.

I have often wondered exactly what motivates this. I find this
only works when I initially establish the planting with three
or more seperate plants - not just a multi-plant runner of a 
single plant. Overlapping of the different root systems seems
to be the factor the causes this phenomenon. I don't know if
each respective plant somehow detects that there is another
seperate plant within close proximity, and it therefore must
spread out to enhance it's survival ability (due to competition
for nutrients or other resources) or what. I have noticed that 
when I don't start with "enough" initial plants, that a group 
will often times never establish, and I will wind up with a 
singular plant, or it will eventually die off (from loneliness???).

I have successfully spread my S. subulata and C. petchii to
other tanks using this technique. Your observations and techniques
are very similar to my experiences. I would be very interested
in a more scientifically based explanation of this behavior.

Eric Deese    Columbus, Ohio

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plant groupings

by John Griffith <john.griffith/>
Date: Fri, 04 Sep 1998

> Does anyone else have something they'd like to add about maintaining
> groups of plants?  I'm looking especially for experience with other
> crypts, small groups of stem plants and "carpet" plants.
> Roger Miller

I have a group of star grass which spreads fairly vigorously by root
runners.  The way I contain its growth is pretty low-tech but works
great:  I cut the bottom off a 4 litre plastic milk jug and filled it
with the same substrate, and planted the star grass in it.  I buried it
so you can't see the plastic (even if a bit does get uncovered it's
translucent so doesn't look too bad).


plant groupings

by Tom Petersen <peter334/>
Date: Fri, 4 Sep 1998

In response to your response of your own response... :)  Have you had any
similar experiences with dwarf sag?  I purchased 5 and placed them
adjacent to my bronze crypt wendtii, but only 1 seems to be doing well.
But, it's not spreading, only putting out leaves and flower shoots.  It
flowers about once a month and sends it about 20", but doesn't get
pollinated due to the aquarium lid.  I have a well lit open area
surrounding it, but it refuses to spread.  The crypts are doing exactly
what you describe, but the tank isn't mature enough to require thinning
these great looking specimens out.  I've looked under my tank, and they
are by far sending out the most prolific set of roots in my 125 with about
20 other plant specimens.  I use liquid gold, substrate gold, undergravel
heating(~80 watts every other half hour) and 200 watts florescent.


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