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Re: growing Barclaya

On Mon, 28 Jun 1999, Olga wrote:

> I have a small
> (tiny) B.l. growing in my 33 gallon flourite substrate tank. Any
> suggestions for boosting its growth? What were your nutrient problems?

If I had poor growth in Barclaya longifolia I might try some of these

1) pinch off all flower buds as soon as they appear.
2) if light is bright, then reduce the light and/or shade the plants.
3) provide more potassium and/or in soft water add more magnesium.
4) reduce other nutrients in the water column.

Your actual course of action will of course depend on what you're doing
with them now.  My experience follows:

Right now the plants are in 1 1/2 inches of plain, fine sand over about 2
inches of old (10+ years) coarse gravel with lots of mulm.  I don't think
details of the substrate are real important here, but shucks, maybe they

The tank gets moderate amounts of CO2 (DIY) and has as long as the
barclaya has been there, so I can't tell you how changes in CO2 might
effect things.  I tried adding jobes spikes around the Barclaya once, but
I got no results and stopped.  I add iron with bits of Fe gluconate
tablets pushed in around plants, but I don't think I've ever fed the
Barclaya that way.

I bought the plants as bare tubers and planted them in a coarse, aged
gravel substrate.  At first they grew 6" leaves then started flowering.
After they started flowering the plants got progressively weaker.  So I
started pinching off the flower buds as they appeared and the plants got
quite a bit stronger, but the leaves stayed around 8 inches long.

The plants were originally unshaded in a 55 gallon tank that had 4X40
watts of GE daylight ~5000K fluorescents.

Since then, I removed and replaced the top part of the old substrate with
fine washed river sand (so far this appears to be a mistake), started
adding potassium and magnesium to the water (this helped the plants hold
on to their older leaves) and rewired the lights to run 3 tubes over the
tank instead of 4.  I planted some banana plants and Egeria densa near
the Barclaya and those shaded the Barclaya some.  Also, my not-so-pygmy
pygmy chain swords started moving in fairly close to the Barclaya.

After all that the Barclaya started putting out bigger leaves.  They're
now about 14 inches long (mostly leaf blade - the petioles are only 3 or 4
inches long) and just reaching the water surface.  I think the change in
growth was probably mostly a response to the reduced light, but probably
also a response to the competition for light (greener light).  I'm still
pinching off the buds (but I apparently missed at least one) and I intend
to keep doing that.

The plants aren't losing leaves as quickly as they used to, so they're
getting very full.  These are spectacular plants with delicate leaves, red
when first growing and when mature dark green on top and pink on the
bottom with pink or red petioles.  Now that they're up to almost 20
leaves/plant they really dominate their part of the tank.

That's most all I can think of that might have contributed to their
success.  The only other thing that I can think of is that I try to keep
the nutrients in the water to a minimum - aside from the K and Mg that I
mix with my change water to get 5 mg/l K and 1 degree of Mg hardness I add
no fertilizers of any kind to the water column.

I wish I could guarantee you that these were reproducable results, but I
can't.  Your mileage may vary.  I also don't know how long it might take
to get the seedlings to develop a good tuber, how to encourage them into
doing it or whether I can divide the rhizome of my large plants.  Any
experience? Anyone?

Roger Miller

P.S.  Oh yeah, uprooting the plants and replanting them can shock them
into a period of poor growth or outright dormancy.  Do so carefully.