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Re: planting plants
The best way to plant plants is with surgical or electrical tweezers. I have 3 pairs of tweezers of various sizes and can plant anything from 1 stem of Cardamine (which BTW, I had to laugh because that is the plant that almost made me cry one day when I couldn't get it to stay in my gravel;) all the way up to fairly large swords and anubias.
Your local hardware store should have lots to choose from. The key is to make sure that you can pinch them shut with very little effort.
Stem plants are the ones likely to give you a hard time. What I do is, depending on the size of the plant, pinch 1-4 stems in the jaws of the tweezer and push straight down where I want the plant to be. Push down far, about 3 internodes or more. Then, carefully, open the jaws and pull out. If you have pinched the plant close to the base, you will have little damage to the base, and very neat placement. Pinch a little furthur up on the stem and you won't have as clean of a planting due to the crinkled and broken stem.
Hope this helps,