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Re: growing Lobelia cardinalis

Erin Poythress wrote:

>Picked some up at LFS yesterday, and having never
>grown it before and hopped online to learn a little
>more. Every site recommended CO2 injection and
>ultra-bright light to get it to thrive. Having neither
>of these, and having found information that
>contradicts my own experience in the past, I'm
>wondering A) what the plant guy was thinking who sold
>it to me, and B) if any of you have gotten L.
>cardinalis to make it in a medium-light, low-growth
>environment. I do fertilize with 3 Flourishes: Excel,
>K, and Fe, and perform 25% water changes weekly. Ph:
>7.0-7.25, KH: 3-4, GH: 4-6. Thanks in advance!

I grew this in a 5.5-gallon tank with 14 watts of normal-output fluorescent 
lighting and DIY CO2. I also grew the dwarf variety in a 2.5-gallon with an 
8W fluorescent light and DIY CO2. I did get better results in the latter, 
but they grew satisfactorily under lower lighting - just a bit leggy, and 
that could have been exacerbated by lack of nutrients and an old 
fluorescent tube. At one point, I stopped using CO2 and switched to Excel 
in that tank and they were still okay. Eventually I had to take down that 
tank, however. Last summer, I lost every single one of my L.cardinalis 
plants (in my 2.5-gallon tanks) to some pathogen. They disintegrated in a 
matter of days. This was the only plant that was affected, too. I was 
absolutely crushed because up to that point, this was my favorite plant. In 
my tiny tanks, it was the only thing that stayed small *and* grew very slowly.

One thing to note is that L. cardinalis is typically shipped to LFS's in 
the emersed form. It's easy to recognize - the undersides of the leaves 
will be purple and look a bit like Lorraine lettuce. If you got yours this 
way, those leaves are going to melt away and you'll get submersed growth, 
which is bright green. Still beautiful, IMO, although when I first got this 
plant, I was disappointed that the pretty purple leaves were going away.

Roger Miller sent me a photo attachment a year or two ago of his tank with 
the Lobelias, and it was proof enough for me that either variety can grow 
beautifully under moderate lighting. Just make sure that they don't get 
shaded over by any taller plants. They can certainly benefit from all the 
light they are able to get. To propagate this plant, trim off and replant 
the tops when the plant gets big enough, and leave the bottom portion 
rooted in the substrate. Right under the cut, you should eventually get two 
new shoots.

Enjoy this plant! I loved mine while I had 'em.