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Old 01-05-2008, 02:16 PM   #1
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What To Do With Stem Plants?

I have a couple bunches of stem plants that are in the back corners of my tank, covering equipment. The taller they grow, they better they look as they get a red tint to the leaves on older leaves. The problem is that they're so incredibly tall now. They can probably stand out six inches out of the top of the tank if I let them stretch out. Does anyone have any aquascaping tips for these kinds of plants other than cutting them off and replanting them?
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Old 01-05-2008, 04:08 PM   #2
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I cut them off and replant them or sell/trade them to other planted tank enthusiasts.
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Old 01-05-2008, 05:00 PM   #3
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Yeah, that's what I figured was going to be my option. On stem plants, every time I cut them, the plant will split in two at the cut. Am I better off unrooting every once in a while and replanting tops so I don't get exponential splits in the plants?
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Old 01-05-2008, 05:03 PM   #4
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I replant the tops often, sometimes I uproot, sometimes not. I don't get splits in the plants I wonder if that is because I use a razor blade to cut them as it is incredibly sharp? I have no answer on that one. Plant experts will have to chime in on that one.
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Old 01-06-2008, 12:33 AM   #5
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If you cut them low say in half they will grow into a nice thick bunch. You can replant or trade the tops. After a while the bottoms do get ratty and need to be tossed.
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Old 01-06-2008, 02:30 AM   #6
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So am I correct to assume the bottoms stay and new material is added to the tops?
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Old 01-06-2008, 10:54 AM   #7
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Whenever I trim a stem plant, I cut the bottom few inches and roots off. If this is a nice, healthy piece, I replant it. Soon a new little stem and leaf will grow out of the cut area. Sometimes two separate ones have grown. Whenever this new top gets tall enough, I cut it off the bottom starter piece and have a new straight stem plant. You can usually tell where the old piece was and the new growth begins because the two sections aren't perfectly straight and in line with each other. Plants like Rotala will often grow multiple new tops and those get nice and bushy fast. Plants like Bacopa will get one or sometimes two tops.

Whenever I cut and replant a top, it just grows taller without any new side or top growth. If you want to start new stem plants, the best way is to replant that bottom part. Sometimes my Bacopa monnieri has started a new stem from the bottom of the mother plant (a new stem appears at the base of the plant coming up through the gravel) and when that's big enough I uproot the mother plant and cut the new stem off and replant it by itself.
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Old 01-07-2008, 07:44 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theotheragentm View Post
So am I correct to assume the bottoms stay and new material is added to the tops?
Yes, a plant can not re-grow already grown leaves. If the bottom of the stem plant has lost its leaves or has been eaten or otherwise damaged then the only way to eliminate the "ratty" look is to remove that portion of the plant.
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Old 01-08-2008, 06:01 PM   #9
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How often would you guys say on average that you have to remove the bottoms? Based on my little experience, I think I am looking at 2-3 months before the bottoms start getting ratty looking.
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Old 01-08-2008, 10:33 PM   #10
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I do most of my trimming from the bottom and not the top (meaning I top off and replant, trimming away a few inches off the bottom). So trimming with this method always keeps the bottom looking nice. If I do have an especially nice bottom and replant it to get more tops, usually I'll let it grow 2-3 tops and then it gets ratty-looking. I'd say that's about 6-8 weeks for me.
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Old 01-09-2008, 09:43 AM   #11
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This also heavily depends on what kind of plant it is and how well your fish like to eat it.
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