Success with Aponogeton Fenestralis
One of the supposedly hardest to raise aquatic plants
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No where near full grown. One lace plant will quickly fill a 10-gallon tank.
Lace Plant Basics. Everyone who sees a well-grown Madagascar lace plant “oohs” and “ahs” at its beauty. Lace plants are usually the focal point of any tank you find them in. If you see a poorly grown lace plant or bare bulb, you’re more ho hum about the plant. Full-grown lace plants do not ship well and are on the pricey side. So most lace plant growers start with less cash, a bare bulb, and lots of faith.
Name Change. Last millennium someone changed the lace plant’s name from A. fenestralis to A. madagascariensis. You’ll find it under both names in many places. Too bad. Fenestra in Latin means window -- a phrase that aptly describes their leaves. Here’s your mnemonic device to help you remember that word: When the coroner says, “Death by defenestration” it means someone threw the corpus out the window. Unfortunately, lots of Aponogetons come from Madagascar which makes that term less descriptive. So we’ll call them lace plants.
Slow Growers. Compared to Aponogeton ulvaceous and hornwort, lace plants grow very slowly. Compared to bolbitis, lace plants grow like a weed. Lace plants usually grow from a bulb (of stored energy). It just seems to take forever -- but certainly not as long as it takes to earn a law degree.
Lace Plant Substrate. We recommend smaller gravels for most plants. Since nearly all Aponogetons grow whether you plant them or not, substrate may make little difference. We like to mix vermiculite into our plant gravel because we usually forget to add fertilizers on a regular basis. By the way, if you fertilize them with smaller amounts more frequently, it seems to help.
Leaf Pattern. And here we see where the lace (formerly window plant) gets its name. The delicate lace pattern that catches your eyeball also makes the lace plant hard to grow -- for most people. Too much light grows algae. Too little light retards growth. Plecostomus and silver dollars more than decimate (another good Latin word that means “kill every tenth person” not “obliterate”) the leaves. Your capture net can rip the leaves and uproot the whole plant. Still, Aponogetons are tough as nails. Lace plants usually recover completely.
Lace Plant Stems. Leaves and the stems that hold them don’t always grow straight or even in the direction you prefer. Step back and say “Bonsai!” Take a tip from those tree torturers. Solomon said: “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree” or in this case, so grows the lace plant. Forget that copper wire and use those very pliable lead-like plant weights and espalier your leaves as you’d like them to grow. Lace plant leaves change directions much faster than Japanese red maple trees.
Lessen the Light. Green plants need light to grow. However, too much light can “burn” your leaves or grow algae like a rug. Decrease the light by putting lots of duckweed atop your lace plants (after they get off to a good start). Duckweed really sucks up the light so you’ll need to thin it periodically (like weekly). Duckweed also eats excess nutrients in the water that would otherwise feed algae.
Other De-Algifiers. Unleash the algae-eating shrimp squad and cry havoc. Once these shrimps snack off all the algae, start feeding them or remove them. Hungry shrimp do not hesitate to eat most plants. You may be able to use otocinclus, but since they changed their name from O. arnoldi I just can’t trust them anymore.
Harry Martin, Casper, WY, May 7, 2010
"Snip off the bloom stalk before it opens."
I've never done that and my lace plant does just fine. Sometimes I get
two blooms. The root/bulb is now about 5" by 3" in size. I think I've
had this plant over 10 years now.
A: Usually, if you let them bloom and go to seed, they will die back and go into a period of inactivity. I'll add your comments to my lace plant page. Keep it healthy. They are getting more costly every day. LA
Harry Martin, Casper, WY, May 8, 2010
Thanks for the feedback. I'd also like to add that the plant loves water changes. Whenever it starts to look ill, I do a water change and it perks right up.
A: I'll add your new info to the page. LA
Snip the Bloom of Youth. Other Aponogetons throw up a bloom stalk when they get growing well. If they flower and set seeds, they will wither and die back. Dead head the little rascals before that happens to your lace plant (unless you want to try growing the little guys). If you intend to grow them from seeds, lower your water level and lean back for about four years.
Other Reproduction. Some hobbyists increase their stock of lace plants by dividing their crowns. There are three crowns here, but cutting them apart will leave bulbs too small to support their foliage. Best to just let this one grow naturally.
Potted Plants. Potted plants usually grow better than non-planted specimens. They suffer less shock when moved. I’ve never potted a lace plant, so “That’s all I have to say about that” as my hero, Forrest, always says. LA.
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