Hygrophila (Temple Plant)
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Prologue: Because this seems one of the easiest plants to find on the market, I decided to cover it again in more detail. I originally included it in my Bunch Plants page as one of the hygrophila varieties. Since it's so popular, I've decided to cover it in more detail. Let's just say it's hard to screw up this particular plant.
Potted Hygrophila Corymbosa: When ordering a quantity of mixed potted plants, we often receive some giant hygrophila in the assortment. They usually grow faster than any of the other species in the assortment. The rooting medium used in these plant pots is a fiberglass foam. Potted plants are often grown emersed in hydroponic trays. They arrive with stouter stems and occasionally with flowers. You see no flowers when you grow hygrophila submerged. You'll see no roots like these when the non-potted plants initially arrive. As you can see, the giant hygrophila very quickly sends out adventitious roots. Good root growth nearly always means good leaf growth will follow.
Newly Arrived Hygrophila Corymbosa: Potted plants do not usually arrive in full fledged display foliage. They arrive in a sparse condition (which they soon outgrow). As you look at the nodes on the stem, these are the places where roots or leaves or both can grow. Usually the roots grow on the lower level and leaves grow on the higher levels. If you look closely, you'll detect a new stem growing at that second node from the bottom. This is the way temple plants grow into display plants.
One Month Later: These potted temple plants grew to this size in a 55 with fluorescent lighting. Most people remove the pots (with scissors) and stick their roots in their tank's substrate. We leave the pots on their roots to make them easier to handle when we sell them. You can cut the pots off at home.
Non-Potted Hygrophila Corymbosa: When planting non-potted specimens, we stick them in any kind of substrate and can count on them rooting in two to three weeks -- sometimes less. These particular specimens are three weeks old -- lots of roots.
More Non-Potted Hygrophila Corymbosa: Type of substrate makes a little difference but not much. Smaller natural gravels let the roots grow faster. Larger colored gravels slow their root growth but only temporarily.
Hygrophila Corymbosa's Main Disadvantage: As the top grows, the new top leaves tend to shade the lower leaves. Once they turn yellow, they become unsightly and probably should be removed. Also, when the stems become too long, you need to trim them back and start new plants. The original plant branches out two new stams where it was "topped off."
Advantages to Trimming: When you snip off the tops (with scissors or thumbnail), you encourage new growth at the node you liberated. This makes your temple plant grow bushier and more attractive (IMnonHO). You can also start new plants by planting your trimmings. As a general practice, you'll get more success when you remove the leaves from your bottom two nodes. Be sure to leave at least three pairs of leaves in your new "cutting."
Phototropism: Growing plants tend to twist around in order to expose maximum chlorophyll to the sun.
Add Fertilizers?: You can encourage plant growth by adding an aquatic fertilizer designed for aquariums. If you plant your giant hygrophila in a tank with fish in it, you probably won't need to add fertilizer -- at least at first.
High Light: These particular tanks receive light 24 hours a day. We're finding out if giant hygrophila can stand up to African cichlids. So far they ignore it.
Last Words: Which ever choice you make, you'll find these plants make attractive, easy-to-grow additions to any aquarium.
3600 Sixth Avenue
Corner of Sixth & Euclid Avenues
Des Moines, IA 50313
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