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Madagascar Lace Plant


  1. re: Madagascar lace question
    by "shaji (s.) bhaskar" <> (Sun, 23 Apr 1995)
  2. Re:Madesgasgar Lace (sp?)question
    by (Stephen Pushak) (Mon, 24 Apr 95)
  3. Madagascar Lace Plants
    by David Randall <> (25 Apr 95)
  4. Aponogeton madagascariensis is flowering
    by (Stephen Pushak) (Tue, 23 May 95)
  5. A. madagascariensis
    by krombhol-at-felix.TECLink.Net (Paul Krombholz) (Wed, 23 Aug 1995)
  6. A. madagascariensis
    by krombhol-at-felix.TECLink.Net (Paul Krombholz) (Sat, 23 Sep 1995)
  7. lace plant
    by krombhol-at-felix.TECLink.Net (Paul Krombholz) (Mon, 13 May 1996)
  8. Re:Madagascar lace plant
    by (Paul Krombholz) (Sat, 22 Feb 1997)
  9. Lace Plant
    by krombhol/ (Paul Krombholz) (Tue, 16 Dec 1997)
  10. re: Aponogeton madagascariensus
    by Michael Eckardt <mike/> (Fri, 11 Sep 1998)
  11. RE:lace and Cordata
    by "Thomas Barr" <tcbiii/> (Sat, 15 Jan 2000)
  12. laceplants
    by "Richard J. Sexton" <richard/> (Sun, 16 Jan 2000)
  13. Lace plants
    by "Thomas Barr" <tcbiii/> (Tue, 23 May 2000)
  14. Aponogeton henkelianus, Narrow leaf lace plant
    by krombhol/ (Paul Krombholz) (Sun, 10 Feb 2002)

re: Madagascar lace question

by "shaji (s.) bhaskar" <>
Date: Sun, 23 Apr 1995

>From: (Peter Staehling)
>Date: Sun, 23 Apr 1995 09:52:40 -0400
>Subject: Madesgasgar Lace (sp?)question
>I am relatively new keeping fresh water plants.  I have a 55 g. planted tank
>that seems to be doing well. The setup is: DIY yeast CO2, single tube tritons,
>78 F., 7.1 PH, (7.4 PH before CO2), small (.125")natural gravel over a layer
>of peat moss, moderate bio load, Penquin 300 filter.  Will the Madesgasgar
>Lace plant do well under these conditions?

The Madagascar lace plant is quite hard to cultivate, and few people
are able to keep it going more than one season.  Usually, the plant is
unable to build up enough reserves of food during its growth and
flowering period.  The tuber is exhausted, and the plant dies.

>  How long of a dormancy period do they need?  How often?  Is it possible to
>rotate two plants so that one was always in the tank and one in cool storage?

Books recommend two months at around 60-65 degrees F.  You will know
when the plant goes dormant.  The growth slows down, and the leaves
become smaller.

>The local shop has some very nice specimens and I am unsure whether to make
>the plunge.

I believe that lace plants sold in the U.S. are imported.  IMO, anyone
trying to cultivate this plant should be prepared to invest a lot of
effort to make sure that he/she contributes to learning how to culture
this plant reliably.

You will probably have a lot better luck if you have already learned
how to keep the easier Aponogetons like crispus and undulatus going
from year to year.

Sorry if I sound discouraging.

- -Shaji

Re:Madesgasgar Lace (sp?)question

by (Stephen Pushak)
Date: Mon, 24 Apr 95

> From: (Peter Staehling)
> Date: Sun, 23 Apr 1995 09:52:40 -0400
> Subject: Madesgasgar Lace (sp?)question
> Hi
> I am relatively new keeping fresh water plants.  I have a 55 g. planted tank
> that seems to be doing well. The setup is: DIY yeast CO2, single tube tritons,
> 78 F., 7.1 PH, (7.4 PH before CO2), small (.125")natural gravel over a layer
> of peat moss, moderate bio load, Penquin 300 filter.  Will the Madesgasgar
> Lace plant do well under these conditions?
Well, the Madagascar Lace plant (Aponogeton madagascariensis) is a beautiful
plant and all sources agree that it requires a very rich substrate. I would
also suggest you might add some fertilizer tablets. I urge you to get some
and let us know how it does in the peat substrate. We have not heard wonderful
things about the use of peat substrate, but that doesn't mean it's not working
in some applications. An alternative that I've read about is to put the
bulb(s) in a ceramic (unglazed) flower pot with a special soil. Sand, gravel,
laterite (or clay) and well composted, powdered manure is suggested although
I have not yet tried this. I need to find more A. mad specimens because they
are rare. So far I don't know of anyone who has propagated it here but you
might be the first. Also, (if you can shoulder the cost), I'd suggest putting
several bulbs together as this produces a much more pleasing effect and
unfortunately, they have a habit of dying off. Try to choose only large,
firm bulbs. Old ones will be soft and are no good with only small leaves.
Try to negotiate a package deal on several if the leaves are small but suspect
these because they may be old. You use Co2: good! I had troubles with
algae growing on the leaves and I believe this is the answer to this problem.
>   How long of a dormancy period do they need?  How often?  Is it possible to
The natural dormant period is several months however I suspect that the plant
can be "fooled" like many Aponogetons, by water temperature and the duration
of lighting. House plants can be fooled into renewed blooming after a few
weeks of subdued lighting followed by an increase so I suspect it is weeks
rather than months.
> rotate two plants so that one was always in the tank and one in cool storage?
Just rest 'em in when they stop making leaves. I think a small, cooler tank
with oxygen, a few small fish and plants and about a 10 hr lighting period
would do the trick. I'm hesitant about putting it in the fridge because of
the possibility of deteriorating water conditions. You could change the 
water every few days with tank or carbon filtered water to keep it fresh.
>   The local shop has some very nice specimens and I am unsure whether to make
> the plunge.
PLUNGE!!! I'm always here to talk with fellow A. mad. growers, breeders!
>   Any tips including recommended reading appreciated.  
Aquarium Plants by Rataj and Horeman has an extensive section on growing
Aponogetons and covers the lace plant. Anyone else have more specific, or
recent research material?

Madagascar Lace Plants

by David Randall <>
Date: 25 Apr 95

Jeff and Hoesch,

 A while ago I asked Claus Christensen of Tropica what he could tell me about
Madagascar lace plants, and here is his reply.  I thought it was pretty grim
if he couldn't keep 90% of them alive!<g>  Soon after I got this, the one I
was keeping joined the other 89 in it's group of 100.<VBG>

 >> Sorry to disappoint you!! This plant IS INCALCULABLE for me too! It is
very hard to cultivate this plant in aquarium. Mostly (ca. 50%) of the plant
die very quickly! Most of the rest (40%) of the plants do not really grow -
they only use the energy stored in the bulb - after this
 reserve is used to develop new leaves the plant will be smaller and smaller!
But a very little part (10%) grow up to a really beautiful and big plants!
Often do they reach a size over 80 cm. People there have seen it - always
remember it! In these aquariums the plant grow year after year (with out a
sleeping period!)

 The very "funny" about it is - it is never completely solved why there is
this so. (I have used some time to try)! There is no 100% secure way to

 Some facts:
 Most people with luck do have not to hard water!
 The plant is sensitive on bacteria and fungus!
 The plant is probably sensitive on copper and other heavy metal!
 The plant prefer a clean bottom material but still with some nutrient!
 It a very variable species - and the species from different places
 is different in cultivation! But my investigation show it is not all the
 Some experiment have shown that it is more easy if the water is not too hot -
but I have also good result in 28 C degree!

 One of the main problems is that all (99.9%) of all sold plants are "wild
plants" imported direct from Madagascar and Mauritius. Because of that they
are not "domesticated"! The same problem as with some imported "wild fish"!

 In the moment there is some experiments with cultivating the plant from seed
and in "In Vitro laboratory" (test tube "plants"). But it take about 3-4 year
before a good bulb is developed - and then it is extreme expensive! <<

 Didn't mean to depress you... maybe you'll be one of the lucky 10%!

  E-mail from: Karen Randall, 24-Apr-1995

Aponogeton madagascariensis is flowering

by (Stephen Pushak)
Date: Tue, 23 May 95

Happiness! One of the two plants from Peter Staehler has a flower stalk
streaking toward the water surface. The growth rate is really awesome;
in 48 hrs, it has risen 9 cm! During the active photo period in the 
middle of the day I estimated growth at .5 cm/hr!! So I don't think I will
be moving this particular plant to a new container or home until after
these seeds mature. This is excellent. You can keep an Aponogeton for months
hoping that it will send up that flower stalk (in vain) or it will oblige you
in the first month that you have it! Anyone have any ideas about how long
it takes for the seeds to mature? Is there a danger they may drop and be lost?
Should they be dried or left wet to hopefully sprout? Any suggestions on
the treatment of seedlings? Thanks in advance for suggestions. :-)

In regards to shipping Aponogetons; the results of Peter & my experiment seems
pretty conclusive. The dried bulbs that he shipped all now show a fair bit of
fungus attack which the larger wet ones did not. The wet ones were shipped
with the leaves attached in inflated plastic bags and only a little water.
The old leaves decayed a lot however the bulbs continued to sprout small
pinkish white shoots which quickly unfolded to become real leaves after a
few days in the aquarium. My theory is that the live plants are able to
protect themselves against fungal attack perhaps by enzymes which they
evolved to protect themselves during the dormant phase. I have seen dried
Aponogeton bulbs of other species that were able to sprout; perhaps these
were sun dried. Live and learn.

                    -- Steve Pushak 
                    email -

A. madagascariensis

by krombhol-at-felix.TECLink.Net (Paul Krombholz)
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 1995

Stephen Pushak writes, Tue, 15 Aug 95 13:16:48 PDT

>Interested in any and all experiences with this plant.  (A. madagascariensis)

I have found that A. madagascariensis benefits greatly from having some
companion plants growing in the same pot.  I think the roots of the
companion plants somehow benefit the lace plant, possibly by providing
oxygen.  I have had a lace plant in continuous growth without any dormant
phase for four years.  It was in a pyrex baking dish with about 1/4 inch
topsoil on the bottom covered by one inch of gravel.  Growing with it was
C. nevilii (spelling?).  The plant flowered on several occasions and
produced seeds from which I got about 20 plants which I gave to the local
tropical fish store when they (the plants) had bulbs about the size of
marbles.  Without companion plants the leaves of the lace plant get patches
that die and turn black.

Paul Krombholz

A. madagascariensis

by krombhol-at-felix.TECLink.Net (Paul Krombholz)
Date: Sat, 23 Sep 1995

>> Some even suggested that Crypts and this Aponogeton
>> had an affinity; increased oxygenation due to the roots of the
>> neighbour.
>Although it is possible that increased oxygenation (or
>circulation) is beneficial to A. mad.,(it certainly seems to be to
>other rooted plants) it seems unlikely that this is a Cryptocoryne
>specific phenomenon.  They don't even come from the same
>continent, so this would be a strange adaptation, indeed. ;-)
I was the one who suggested this, and it has really worked for me, whereas
lace plants never did much of anything for me by themselves, even with good
light, nutrients, and CO2.  I had a lace plant growing with crypts  that
bloomed, produced viable seeds, and continued to grow for five years
without any resting period.   I did not mean to suggest that only crypts
would work.  My hypothesis is that the roots of the crypts or any other
plant make conditions better for the lace plant probably by supplying
oxygen to the underwater soil.  Small crypts, such as C. nevilli, make good
companion plants for A. madagascariensis because they do not grow high
enough to compete with the lace plant's leaves for light.

I grew this plant in a glass tray with about 0.25 inches of mud at the
bottom and 1.5 inches of gravel on top of the mud. The mud was made by
slowly mixing water with topsoil with plenty of stirring until I had a
mixture runny enough to pass through a rice strainer.

Paul Krombholz                  Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, MS  39174

lace plant

by krombhol-at-felix.TECLink.Net (Paul Krombholz)
Date: Mon, 13 May 1996

>Date: Mon, 13 May 1996 12:43:32 -0600
>Subject: lace plant..
>I have keeping lace plants for a couple of months now and they are doing
>great...actually a little too great!!!  I had no idea how HUGE the
>plants get...they completely took over the 20 gallon that i had....and I
>had to sacrifice it or lose everything else in the tank because of the
>shade :(
>I have learned my lesson and will only keep it in bigger tanks :)
I am wondering if you have Aponogeton guillotii.  it has narrower leaves
than madagascariensis or henkelianus, pink five-spiked flowers and is a
much larger plant.  I had one once that got too big for my 75 gallon tank.
The petioles of the leaves reached the surface, and the flower stalks were
more than 1/2 inch thick.  I never got any seeds, even though I tried
fertilizing the flowers with a paint brush.  A. guillotii definitely seems
to be self-sterile in contrast to A. madagascariensis.

Paul Krombholz                  Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, MS  39174

Re:Madagascar lace plant

by (Paul Krombholz)
Date: Sat, 22 Feb 1997

       From: "Michael E. Kane" <mek-at-GNV.IFAS.UFL.EDU>

>I'm growing Aponogeton madagascariensis (fenestralis) stock plants in tanks
>in a shaded greenhouse. We are plan on using these plants as a source of
>shoot tips for some tissue culture studies.  Does any one have first-hand
>knowledge of  the environmental/cultural conditions that will promote
>flowering in this species?  I would also like to generate seed.

I have had two of the three varieties of madagascariensis; the narrow
leaved one, given a separate species status (guillotii) by Muhlberg, but
not by other authors, such as Rataj or Kasselmann; and the madagascariensis
variety.  Guillotii, with its very large size and five-spiked purple,
self-sterile flowers is quite different from madagascariensis, with its
smaller size and two-spiked, white, self-fertile flowers.  Both bloom on a
long day (16 hours of light).  I have not seen the third variety,

One thing I have found that is necessary for good growth with the
madagascariensis variety is to have "companion" plants that are rooted near
the lace plant.  Small crypts, such as nevillii (now C. x willisii) are
good as "companion" plants because the lace plant can easily get its leaves
above those of its companion.

I got lots of flowers from guillotii, but never any seeds because I had no
second plant to use for cross fertilization.  I got lots of seeds from
madagascariensis, and they sprout readily, but are a bit difficult to grow
to a large size.  To start them, I recommend sand with a little mud made by
mixing topsoil with water mixed in the bottom layer of sand.  Small
companion plants may help here, too.  When the seedlings have leaves four
to six inches long or bulbs the size of a pea, they can be transplanted.

When seeds are shed, they are covered in a thin, water repellant jacket,
and they float for a day or two before the jacket disintegrates and the
naked seedling drops to the bottom.  I once got a seedling in sterile
culture by breaking open the jacket and letting the seedling fall in
sterile nutrient solution.  It grew to full size, flowered, self fertilized
and produced a crop of seedlings which also started growing well.  The
experiment ended when I got the nutrient solution contaminated with algae
while attempting to change it.

Paul Krombholz                  Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, MS  39174
Goofing off instead of working in pleasant, although cooler, Jackson,

Lace Plant

by krombhol/ (Paul Krombholz)
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997

>Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 03:35:58 -0500
>From: (Matthew T. Mason)
>Subject: Lace Plant
>Has anyone had any luck with the lace plant (Matagascar -sp?)?

I had one going continuously for five years without any dormant period,
during which time it bloomed a number of times and produced many seedlings.
I used about a quarter inch of "soil soup" covered with 1.5 inches of
gravel.  The preparation of soil soup was discussed in APD V2, # 1139.  In
my opinion, lace plants benefit a great deal from having some "companion"
plants growing nearby with their roots in contact with those of the lace
plant.  Low growing crypts, such as C. x willisii (formerly nevillii) make
good companion plants.  Lace plants do not like a lot of organic matter in
their soil, and the companion plants are essential.  The water I have is
soft, but rather alkaline due to a lot of naturally occurring sodium
bicarbonate.  The lace plant benefitted a lot from regular CO2 additions.
It was in a 15 gallon aquarium with two, 20 watt, cool white, fluorescent

Paul Krombholz, in Jackson, Mississippi where we had 7 inches of snow

re: Aponogeton madagascariensus

by Michael Eckardt <mike/>
Date: Fri, 11 Sep 1998

> Has anyone successfully kept this plant, and if so, how did they go about

I purchased my A. mad. bulb about 1 1/2 years ago. It was owned for years by
a local aquarist (Southern Ontario) who "totally ignored" it.
I did the same: Following Neil Frank's advice (thanks Neil!), I put it in my
tank, close to a clump of Cryptocorynes, and ignored it. The plant grew long
leaves (40cm) but didn't flower. Then It went through its rest cycle and
came back again. Again without flowers. The temp was as high as 86deg F on
hot days, normally about 78deg F.

I moved recently and doubled(?) the amount of light to 4x27W T8s bulbs.
Again, I planted the bulb near a bunch of crypts.The bulb lost some of its
leaves during the move, but recovered very rapidly. Now I have 7 or 8 60cm!
long leaves, and a flower stalk. Temperature about 78deg F.

In both situations, I injected C02, pH at 6.9 to 7.0. Carbonate hardness
6dH, in the first tank, about 10 in the second.

My recommendations for A. mad., (totally unscientific gut feelings):
1. plant near crypt roots,
2. plant only the bottom half of the bulb
3. some clay or laterite in the substrate
4. let the plant grow and don't constantly re-arrange it - hands off
5. plant in fine sand and take care not to damage the bulb
6. temp 75-80 is OK
7. give it a Jobe palm and fern stick every now and then, especially when it
comes out of its rest period.
8. don't remove the bulb from the tank when it rests - the bulbs come from
PERMANENT creeks and rivers that silt up in the rainy season. According to
C. KASSELMANN in AQUARIENPFLANZEN (Ulmer, 1995), the reduced light due to
the soil in the water triggers the dormancy. It is not, as usually assumed,
the disappearance of the water from the habitat due to the dry season.
Therefore, leave the bulb in the tank, and ignore it.

FWIW, YMMW, etc., etc.

Michael Eckardt
- --------------------------
"The pendulum of the mind oscillates between sense and nonsense,
not between right and wrong."
Carl Jung

RE:lace and Cordata

by "Thomas Barr" <tcbiii/>
Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2000

 As I read it 
>thrives with extra-large water changes (optimally 2/3) and weekly,

This is not true.

 cool water 
>(70/22, that's pretty cool) and cooler during 2 rest months (66/18), 

Cool *generally* is the best method. They will grow like a weed. You can
keep them higher but they don't last in the long term.

with the 
>slender leaved ones needing distant light or semi-shade, fuller light for 
>broad-leaf.  Making sure they don't get cold feet (or in the apon. case 
>"foot") can be important rot from what I hear, too.

Cold feet is not a problem for lace plants. Mr. Sexton has grown them in
manure(Hummmm! was it Cat manure/feces<g>?) and they aren't prone to rot
there so moving them around and other bulb stresses(like temp) are the
causes of rot rather than the anaerobic gravel as I had postulated
previously in a post. I can rule that one out. 

 An interesting 
>side-note, apparently mass imports are endangering the wild reserves of Lace 
>Plants so don't ditch the bulbs and reorder unless you really want to!

No life form for that matter but there are a large number on the mainland of
Africa now that are being imported but they are still being removed from
their native home also. 
They aren't getting near the $ as before though so the $ issue will lessen
the amount taken hopefully. Capitalism.......and all. Cheaper to farm the
things. If I had the time and room! 

>  On a side-note, the discussion over the Cryptocoryne (C. cordata?) is very 
>interesting.  I was just reading an account by Dr. Chris Andrews of when he 
>went on a search for C. cordata, as he explains I guess there's some 
>confusion over color of the flower collar being yellow, or yellow and fading 
>into brown, or purple.   So anyways, in the wild he found they were all fully 
>yellow.  But he had to the rivers of East Johore to figure that much out!

So are you interested in Crypts yet folks?
>  Thanks for all the lighting tips from everyone (I got lots of info on 
>compact flourescents a little bit ago).  Everything turned out great...I got 
>a metal halide pendant.  Go figure, it's beautiful.

You would've been happy either way<g>! You'll like it.



by "Richard J. Sexton" <richard/>
Date: Sun, 16 Jan 2000

>Cold feet is not a problem for lace plants. Mr. Sexton has grown them in
>manure(Hummmm! was it Cat manure/feces<g>?)

Sheep manure, from the hardware store. An inch below 4" of sand.

Keep them cool. Feel well, LOTS of light and water movement. You
can move them once a year but that's IT. I've grown them in soft
and hard water. Acid and Alkaline.

They'll actually do ok in low light but won't grow as big.

When/if they flower, fertilize more. You need two plants
to get viable seeds and the seedlings aren't hard to grow.

- --
Richard J. Sexton                               
Maitland House, Bannockburn, Ontario, Canada, K0K 1Y0       +1 (613) 473 1719

Lace plants

by "Thomas Barr" <tcbiii/>
Date: Tue, 23 May 2000

>Well my 20 to 24" Lace plants were grown to this size in a nursery, in
>Florida. I dont think they run chillers, but I could be mistaken. My tank is
>at about 80F, hotter in the summer. I have smaller plants that are two years
>old. Now obviously they havnt reached maximum size, havnt flowered, but they
>are healthy enough otherwise. They havnt gone dormant either.

They will do "better" at lower temps especially henkelianus. The wholesalers
certainly don't use chillers! The outside mud in a deep pond is quite cool
even if the air temp is way up there. Try planting some in a pond Dwight. I
have a friend who has a nice pond that I'm going to toss a few plants into
to see how well the seed production is. Mine do OK at higher temps but much
above 80 they start to turn brown and older leaves will sometimes fall off.
Mine also flower easily at lower temps and sometimes at higher temps also
but the plant's leaves turn brown after its done its cycle.
Tom Barr 

Aponogeton henkelianus, Narrow leaf lace plant

by krombhol/ (Paul Krombholz)
Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2002

    * From: "Robert H" <>

OK, since we are talking about Aponogetons, I will use this to segway into
an Apon that is definetly not a Walmart plant!
Aponogeton henkelianus is a narrow leaf  "lace plant"or skeleton leaf plant
as it is sometimes called. The main difference between this and the
Madagascar Lace plant that I am aware of is it's leaf size and structure.
The leaves are generaly not more than 2" wide, and it's leaves are more of a
fine mesh or screen see-thru, where as its larger cousin has much thicker
skeleton like veins in the leaves...(does that make sense?)   Does anyone
have any more info on this plant? Here is a picture of it from Oriental
Aquariums' catalog:

the picture from Oriental Aquariums catalog, was pretty small, but the
flower in the inset identified it for me.  I have had this plant.  It has
longer narrower leaves than the other two kinds of lace plants.  Kasselmann
lumps all the lace plants together as A. madagascariensis (and the picture
she shows is a plant of this variety that looks like it is dying).  I have
doubts that this narrow leaved lace plant should be in the same species
with the other two.  Muhlberg lists A. madagascariensis, A. henkelianus,
and A. guillotii.  The first two are more similar with broad leaves and
white twin-spiked flowers.  The other is what Robert is describing now as
A. henkelianus!!  Whatever it is called, it is definitely different.  It
has five-spiked pink to purple flowers.  It also has a barrier to
self-fertilization, which the twin spiked varieties or species lack.  It is
also a much bigger plant that got too big for my 75 gallon tank.  The
leaves plus petioles got to be about 2.5 feet long, and the flowers had
stems over 1/2 inch thick.  There was no telling how big it would have
gotten if it had been in a bigger tank and had been fertilized properly.

Paul Krombholz in cooling central Mississippi, where a cold front came
through this morning.  

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