Success with the Easy-Growing Aponogeton Plants

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LA
Aponogetons are often called "wonder bulbs" because you wonder if they'll grow or not.

LA
We get some aponogetons we never do find the names of.

LA
Here's a bag of 100 bulbs we tossed in this tank 10 days ago.

LA
Sprouted and still no clue what species these guys are.  But cute.

In the Beginning.  Aponogetons usually hit the market as bulbs – usually brown, hairy, fibrous rhizomes that everyone calls “bulbs.”  Bulbs really refers to the round often tasty plants, like onions, that grow in layers or those shiny things that light up when you clap your hands ... but lets not get off on a rant.  Well just call em bulbs.

LA
Once they get started, most aponogetons grow like a weed.  A. boivinianus grows slowly.

Minimal Needs.  Each aponogeton bulb contains the germ of life that starts a tiny green shoot growing AND the energy it takes to sustain its life.  Your aponogeton will grow for months whether or not you fertilize it, regardless of aquarium pH, and regardless of your tank temperature or substrate.

Enemies.  Plecostomus species (sucker mouth catfishes) eagerly devour sword plants.  But for some strange reason, they exclude many (but not all) aponogetons from their diet.  Large plecos will naturally knock all plants willy-nilly or even crush them.  Ditto most large cichlids, goldfish, and koi.  They just like to tear up plants.  Apple snails enjoy eating the tasty foliage of aponogetons. Other snails ignore them.

LA
Aponogetons grow whether planted or not.  Take this mess apart and plant the bulbs.

Fertilizer.  Food stored in the “bulb” gets your aponogeton off to a rousing start.  Your fish also give off nitrogenous wastes, phosphates, and carbon dioxide that this fast-growing plant inhales.  However, you’ll get bigger and better specimens if you fertilize them on a regular basis -- frequent small amounts of fertilizer work better than infrequent large doses.  One healthy aponogeton can easily fill half a 10-gallon aquarium with attractive green leaves.

LA Pic
Even the lace plants grow whether you plant them or not.

LA Pic
Bare bulb Aponogeton  lace plant on right.  Well started one on left.

Planting.  If you toss your bulb in a bare tank, it will fall to the bottom and start growing.  In a tank with gravel, it will root itself.  Most people stick their bulbs into the gravel because they want their show plants in a specific place – not drifting all over the place like the tumbling tumbleweed.  Don’t bury your bulb.  Just stick it in far enough to hold it in the place you want to keep it.

LA
Planting four aponogeton undulatus four inches apart yields an aquatic Jungle.
 
 

Nutish Ramrekha, February 8, 2009
Thnx for your info on crispus. I have potted 4 of them and here are the photos >Please note that you can use them on your site<

NR

NR

NR

A:  Thanks for the Aponogeton crispus pictures.  I'll add them to my Aponogetons page.  LA
PS 
I hope everyone understands that these plants need to grow submerged.  LA

Lotsa Light.  You can’t grow plants in the dark.  Give your aponogetons 12 hours of light daily.  You can find electrical timers priced under $10.  You also need brighter bulbs in tanks larger than 20 gallons.  The Triton bulbs work very well.  Aponogetons grow in poor light, they just grow slowly.

LA
Aponogetons in front of white rock and in back right corner.  Dwarf lilies on left.

LA
Dwarf lilies come in with aponogetons as bulbs -- round, hard, and smooth bulbs.

LA
A. bassweedus, 29-inches tall.  Roots next to none.  Every leaf on top the water.  (Ugly.)

LA
A. bassweedus from the top.  No clue as to real name ...  Found out 05-01-04.  It's an Aponogeton distachyos and called a water hawthorn.  The blooms play a key role in mutton stew in South Africa.

LA
Here's the reputedly tasty bloom.

LA
Now, what's this similar one?

LA
Week-old from bare bulb Aponogeton boivianus.  Similar to A. ulvaceous but pricier.

LA
Same bulbs one month later.

LA
A totally unknown (to us) type of aponogeton.  Long skinny leaves.  Long skinny "bulb."

LA Pic
Ditto with this one.

LA
Here's another one.  Multiple crowns.  Guess I'd better start planting them.

LA
Aponogetons grow even faster when you plant them.


Many Versions.
  You’ll see several different types of aponogetons – some with wider leaves, some with skinny leaves, even some with reddish brown leaves.  All grow like a weed and sell at a very economical price except for the Madagascar lace plant.  This finest of all aponogetons sells for roughly 10 times the average aponogeton price

LA
Reddish-brown aponogeton half-filling a 10-gallon tank.  Note the bloom stalk at top.

Maintenance.  In the wild, these guys leaf out, throw up a two-to- four-foot long bloom stalk, go to seed, then die back during the dry season.  Take a look at the bloom stalk on the top.  If you want to prolong your aponogeton’s “salad days,” pinch off that bloom stalk before it starts blooming.  Otherwise, your show plant will go thru a several month resting phase.  If it goes into this phase with little stored energy, it may not recover.

LA
Aponogeton bloom stalks.  Some already matured into baby plants.

LA
You can't miss aponogeton blooms.  They grow right up out of your tank.

LA
Once they go their little plantlets, the plant usually dies back.

Propagation.  On the other hand, if you want hundreds of baby aponogetons, don’t yank that bloom stalk.  When the tiny flowers open, brush them lightly with a tiny paint brush to fertilize them.  

LA
Baby aponogeton plantlets ready to drop into the water.

Plantlets.  Six to eight week later the tiny plantlet/seeds mature and fall off the stalk.  They float a few days and eventually fall to the bottom to restart their cycle of life.  You’ll want to provide them a fish-free environment.  And you get better results in shallow water.  Since the adult bulbs sell for so little, few aquarists devote much effort to aponogeton farming.

LA
We love aponogeton lace plants, but would plant the crown higher and use natural gravel.

LA
Check out that red-leaved plant behind the cryptocoryne.

LA
No guarantees but it seems to be an aponogeton.

LA
See that bulb?

LA
No idea what species of aponogeton?

LA
Crispus multiplying by modified runner, December 3, 2011.

LA
Different batch doing the same.

LA
All babies from the same parent.

LA
30 Aponogeton crispus planted as bulbs a month ago.

Summary.  Aponogetons rapidly grow into excellent show plants. Lace plants cost five to ten times as much as the others.  And they almost always come as bare bulbs.  You need to fill in with something else.  You get better results when you grow fast and slow-growing plants together.  Sometimes you need to brutally cut back the faster growers.  LA.

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