[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: cultivating Echinodorus, "ozelot"

Diana wrote:

>    I have a 30 gal long I want to dedicate to learning methods for
> propigating an ozelot plant or marble queen.

I don't have experience with either of those cultivars, but I am growing
E. cordifolius.  Isn't Marble Queen a variety of E. cordifolius?.

I started with a run-of-the-mill plant from the LFS.  It was
emersed-grown and had no trouble adapting.  I think for most Echinodorus
you can easily tell whether they were emersed grown or not.  Some have
lanceolate submersed leaves and oval emergent leaves, while others have
about the same leaf form above or below water.  In the case where the
leaf forms are about the same the submersed leaves usually are more
delicate, with undulating margins, while the emersed-grown leaves are
more robust with straight leaf margins.

My cordifolius grows poorly in cool air; it likes nice, warm spaces.  A
couple times when growth stalled I checked and found that the potting
medium was very cool.  An Oriental sword that I originally tried to grow
under the same conditions failed to thrive and I think it was because of
cool growing conditions.

The cordifolius isn't as picky about dry air and is growing well right
now in *very* dry air.  I used to mist the leaves every morning, but I
gave that up and it doesn't seem to make much difference.  Probably some
varieties will be more tolerant of dry air than others.  The leaves were
bigger last summer when conditions were consistently humid (due to a
swamp cooler), but it's hard to say whether that was because of humidity
or whether the current growth habit (smaller leaves, longer petioles) is
an adaptation to winter growing conditions with short days and cool

The plant is "potted" in a fish bowl and grows with it's leaves above
the bowl.  The bottom half of the bowl (about 5 inches) is filled with a
mixture of aquarium gravel (two sizes) and potting soil, with water
always above the gravel.  I added a teaspoon or so of powdered DTPA
chelated iron to the potting soil in the lower couple inches of the pot
and it hasn't had any iron deficiency problems.  I fertilize with jobes
houseplant spikes.  The leaves often have small pin holes in them and I
think that's a deficiency symptom; I'll guess potassium for no real
reason. The substrate is anaerobic and now pretty thoroughly root-bound.

I keep ramshorn snails in the bowl to keep algae from taking over.  When
an old leaf dies I usually fold it back into the water and let it rot. 
That feeds the snails and recycles the leaves.

I've kept the plant mostly in very bright indirect sunlight under
skylights.  Recently I moved it to an east-facing window and it's
growing well.  I think the plant can probably take about as much light
as I could give it, short of putting in our direct desert sunlight. 
There aren't very many non-native herbaceous plants that can handle
Albuquerque's unrelenting sunlight.

Water use is very high. In the summer the plant used at least a half
gallon of water a week.  I suppose that water was mostly transpired by
the plant, though some of the water would have evaporated and the cats
drank the rest.  Two out of three cats prefer plant water.  Salt builds
up in the pot because of the high water use and near the end of summer
that buildup almost killed the plant.  Since then I've drained and
replaced the water every few weeks to keep the salt buildup from getting
too bad.

The plant put out 3-foot long stalks and flowered all summer, carrying
three or four stalks most of the time.  The stalks aren't particularly
attractive. Individual flowers (which are fairly pretty, close up) are
open from a little after dawn to early evening, then they close up and
develop seed heads.  I let the seed heads dry on the flower stalks and
gathered them after I cut the stalk off the plant.  

Small plants developed on the stalk, just like they do under water.  I
removed the baby plants and planted them in a clear plastic tray with a
lid.  I used gravel+potting soil substrate covered with about an inch of
water and left the plants there until there was good growth and leaf
development, then I moved them to an aquarium where they were completely
submersed.  Once they were established under water I traded those plants
to my favorite LFS.  Being submersed-grown plants they keep better in
the LFS tanks than do emersed grown plants.  The leaves of emersed grown
plants tend to die quickly under dim light and the plant becomes

I have hundreds of seeds that I gathered from the parent plant.  I
recently set up tables in front of two sunlit windows where I'm going to
try to get some of the seeds to sprout.  I plan to sprinkle the seeds on
a moist mixture of sand and potting soil in clear-plastic boxes from the
grocery-store salad bar.  I'm pretty sure something will grow, though it
may just be algae.  I don't know if the seeds are even fertile.

I don't know if that helps very much, as my one-plant method doesn't use
an aquarium for anything but the last step of adapting baby plants to
submersed growth.  Generally, I think emersed culture is a good idea;
you will get much faster growth and fewer maintenance problems if you
grow the plants emersed.  Also, use all the sunlight you can get --
unless you live in Tucson or some other brutally sunny place.

One thing I should point out is that emersed-grown Echinodorus can get
pretty big.  A 30 gallon tank might not give you enough space for more
than two full-sized plants, and those will probably grow out of the top
of the tank.  The tank should be good for less-than-full-grown plants,
and great for adapting young plants to submersed growth.

I'd like to try some cross pollinations too, but I don't know how to go
about doing it.  One problem I see right away is that the flowers are
open only very briefly; that doesn't leave much of a window of
opportunity to get to the flower and do your work. 

Good luck, and let us know how it all works.

Roger Miller