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Re: Madagascar Lace Plant

I recently had the good fortune to get a small lace plant at our local
aquarium club auction. My previous attempts with this plant had not been
successful but this time we'll see.

I have the bulb in a small pot with inorganic soil in the bottom. In
addition there are several clay fertilizer balls (which I make by
rolling about 7-10 osmocote pellets in soft clay) in the bottom and
covered by a layer of gravel.

The plant is alive and producing new leaves however they are still of
the small size so I presume that the roots have not yet been able to
grow sufficiently to begin providing new energy reserves and the plant
is still running on reserves from the bulb.

I have put no companion plant with it (yet); the other person to have
had very good success with lace plants is Richard Sexton and he uses an
extremely fertile substrate comprised of manure and soil (I believe).

When I have had an lace plant growing well, it grew large leaves and
very quickly. I believe this plant has a rapid growth pattern and a
hungry metabolism. It seems to be dependent upon its root system for
sustenance once the bulb reserves are exhausted and so I'm inclined to
think that it can tolerate a fairly strong reducing substrate.

The only tank which I have suitable for a lace plant is an unheated
Crypt tank which has no fish, just snails. I didn't want to put any
manure or compost into that tank because I was pretty certain that would
produce an algae explosion; the Crypts are of very slow growing

I think fertile soil substrates are really only best for fast growers
and in tanks where the plants can quickly gain the upper hand over
algae. The low-fertility soil soup method should help to reduce the
fertility greatly but it might not if you had started with something
that had compost added to it within the last few years or so.

Using clay balls with fertilizer is my hope to provide a sort of
compromise; limit the amount of nutrients making it into the water and
yet providing the lace plant with nutrients that it probably needs to
support its rapid growth habit.

It seems to me that plants with the rapid growth strategy would be
highly seasonal. This plant's growth cycle may rely upon reaching
maturity quickly and producing an abundance of seeds. I don't know if
those seeds are intended to germinate the next season or if they
germinate that season, grow a large tuber as a reserve and then last
through the dry season until the rains return to grow large enough to
flower. The tuber seems to indicate a multi-season plant. Maybe it is
like garlic where the seeds need two seasons to attain the ability to
flower again. I have garlic (and only now learning how to grow it
properly) The seeds look like little miniature bulbs!
Steve Pushak                              Vancouver, BC, CANADA 

Visit "Steve's Aquatic Page"      http://home.infinet.net/teban/
 for LOTS of pics, tips and links for aquatic gardening!!!