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[APD] Re: hydroponic emersed culture (Cavan)

Cavan wrote:
Hi everybody

I've been growing Hygrophila corymbosa, H. difformis,
Limnophila aromatica (aka Gratiola), and Echinodorus
tenellus out on the deck this summer. I have a few

1. How "rich" can you make the water you feed the
plants? I'm not worried about algae or anything here,
so can you just really go for it? The aromatica has
grown a lot more since I started adding macros and
Flourish to its water (lots more side shoots and
flowers). The other plants are all growing out of a
big salsa jar filled with Flourite and dirt. They
have been getting the same water as the aromatica. But, although the plants are healthy...

I have found the emersed aquatic plants I grow can do quite well in pots with regular potting soil. They do benefit from the addition of fertilizer. You would have to add a lot of micro-nutrients to overdo it.
For macro-nutrients you can use a regular house plant fertilizer, just follow the directions on the package and you won't overdose the plants.

2. Why haven't any of them grown much above 8 inches
or so?
My emersed aquatics don't tend to get as tall as the same ones in a tank. The bright light outside should make the internodal distance smaller so the plants will be more compact and not be trying so hard to reach the light. Mine tend to reach a certain height then bloom or send out side shoots.

All seem to have adapted to outside
conditions, but I thought they would have been much
larger by now. As long as a plant has enough
nutrition, does it matter if the roots are a little
crowded? I don't think that should be a problem at
this point, but could it? For the most part, my thumb
is only green below water. I'm ashamed to admit I
have some sad looking house plants.

Plant growth can be restricted if they are root bound. Knock one out of its pot and see if it is a solid mass of roots. I have found that roots can fill a small pot very quickly.

I have my pots sitting in a deep tray with a water depth that ranges between 1/2 to 4 inches (usually around 2 inches). The soil surface is always above the top of the water, although that isn't necessary. The water in the tray does get thick with hair algae all the nutrients in the soil and the sunlight really make it take off :).

3. What might the emersed temperature tolerance of
those plants be? It's starting to get cool around

The Hygrophilla will still grow well in the upper 60's F and will survive short exposure to colder temps as long as it doesn't frost. Growth will slow down greatly at lower temps though.
I don't know about the Limnophila aromatica, but I have had Echinodorus (other than tenellus) survive exposure to 55 F for about 36 hours and survive. It wasn't happy about it, but it did pull through.

4. Is the air inside an average house too dry for
them? I'm wondering if they could make it as house
plants (which might spell their doom by either dryness
or neglect).

As long as they are sitting in water they will do OK. They will be happier in a terrarium though.

5. I suppose I could move them to a covered empty 20
long and leave them in a well lighted area. I do have
a terrarium going, but emersed plants seem to do a lot
better under the sun than even under power compacts. I'm in Pittsburgh, so if I went that route, would they
require supplimental light (especially in the winter
months? I'm in Pittsburgh)?

They will definitely do better with supplemental lighting. Most tropical plants do have a drier season so they can handle being in the house pretty well, but they still need a good light source.

Bill Wells

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