George Booth Wrote:

<Much that I agree with snipped>

> > Sword plants will prosper very well in a very rich substrate
> > so you can follow the Randall method and "pot 'em up"!!
> Sword plants will also prosper in a less dangerous gravel/lateri
> subtrate, so you need not bother to potting 'em up. 

Not necessarily so!  In my experience, this is dependent to a 
large extent on water chemistry. (I don't know _why_ this is so, 
but seems to hold true)  Those with very soft water can often grow 
beautiful large Swords with much less fuss than George goes to.  
I've seen robust healthy Swords in plain gravel with a single aged 
fluorescent tube over them in soft water areas. (which in this 
area are often also iron rich... perhaps this is a clue?)

I had these conditions in my last home, and grew more Swords than 
I knew whet to do with using very low tech (standard "fish tank") 
methods.  In our current home, time and again I have tried Swords 
without soil.  Using laterite, regular (Dupla) trace element 
supplementation, strong light, CO2 and substrate heating. In every 
case they languish.  They don't die outright (or at least they 
take so long getting around to it that they've out-waited me!) but 
they grow "down", getting smaller and smaller.  

If I take one of these dwarfed plants and pot it with soil, within 
a few weeks it has returned to its normal growth pattern.  This 
seems to be true of other plants that do better in soil in my 
tanks as well.  

I would be interested in hearing how many people in harder water 
areas are able to grow Swords well without using soil.  

I have found that you can't make generalities about a specific 
plant's needs until you've seen it grow under a variety of water 

> > I would also like to point out that most plants absorb nutrien
> > more readily with their roots than through their leaf surface
> > (despite some comments made recently). 
> Perhaps that may be true, but stem plants seem to be able to gro
> extremely well in a "rootless" state.  Trimming stem plants typi
> takes the form of cutting off the top portion, planting that an
> throwing out the existing rooted portion.  If stem plants *depen
> on the roots for nutrients, this practice would certainly lead t
> disastor.  Which it doesn't. 

It is certainly true that "topping" if anything, encourages more 
vigorous growth.  That does _not_ mean, however that they do not 
feed stronglt from their roots.  My experience has been that 
theses plants put out healthy new root growth very quickly.  In 
the mean time, I suspect they subsist on stored nutrients.  
Remember that if you take an Ivy cutting (among _many_ other 
terrestrial plants) and put it in the top of your aquarium  it 
will continue to grow and will begin to root immediately.  I don't 
think this suggests that the plant is somehow extracting nutrients 
from the air ;-)