Re: growing lace plants

>From: PacoIII at aol_com
>Date: Sat, 30 Dec 1995 11:18:59 -0500
>Subject: (Q) Madagascar Laceleaf (Aponogeton fenestralis)
>  I went to my local store and found this lovely plant.  I'm going a little
>crazy buying plants and this one is a little expensive as plants go that is,
> I only have a little information about this plant so I was wondering if
>someone could give me some help on it.   It said in  " Aqualink/aquatic plant
>list" that it's difficult to maintain,  I will give it my full attention, It
>likes to have DIM to MED light ( what does that mean?), high in nutrients
>(how much and what should I use),   a regular supply of Iron (how much and
>what do I use). Can anyone help,  Please, this is a beutiful  plant and I
>would love to make it happy in it's new home.
>                                 Sincerely,
>                                      PacoIII at aol_com

I have grown lace plants for many years in gravel with a little soil at the
bottom.  I take a few handfuls of ordinary topsoil and mix water with  it
until it pours like thick soup.  I pour this through a rice strainer into
the bottom of a glass baking dish until I have a layer about 5 to 10
millimeters deep, and then fill up the dish to the top with gravel. I use
this type of setup for Aponogetons, because a number of them don't like a
whole lot of organic matter in their soil.

My favorite aquatic plant book, The Complete Guide to Aquatic Plants by
Muhlberg, lists three species of lace plants, A. madagascariensis, A.
henkelianus, and A. guillotii.  Some other books lump them together as one
species, A. madagascariensis.  I have had experience with A.
madagascariensis and A. guillotii, and they are very different plants.  A.
Guillotii gets huge, even too big for a 75 gallon aquarium, and it produces
flowers with five pink spikes that never self-fertilize.  A.
madagascariensis is much smaller and can fit nicely in a 15 gallon tank.
It produces flowers with two white spikes that self-fertilize easily and
produce viable seeds.

A. madagascariensis is a difficult plant to grow, but I have always had
success when I have some crypts growing in the same dish with it.  I
hypothesize that the crypts act in some way as companion plants, and that
their roots provide some kind of benefit to the lace plant. Probably plants
other than crypts could serve as companion plants.   Without companion
plants, the leaves of the lace plant get blackened areas and die soon after
they have reached full size.  With companion plants I have maintained a
lace plant for five years without any noticable resting period.  During
this five year period I replanted the lace plant once when the crypts (C
nevillii and C. willisii) became overcrowded and began to crowd out the
lace plant.  I wonder if the resting period that everyone talks about with
Aponogetons isn't caused by changing daylength in cultures kept under
daylight, or by the plant simply running out of nutrients when kept under
artificial light. I noticed that my lace plant,after a year or so, started
producing smaller, paler leaves, and I got much improved growth with
soluble iron additions.  (Fe diethylenetreaminepentaacetic acid, [ Fe
DEPTA, I think])

A. guillotii is easier to grow, and does not seem to have as strong a
requirement for companion plants.  It looks nice when it is not full grown,
but when the petioles of the leaves go all the way to the water surface, it
doesn't look nearly as nice.

Good luck, and let us know how your lace plant is doing.

Paul Krombholz                  Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, MS  39174