Mother Natures insecticide

When you keep tropical plants in a tropical environment, you naturally get quite a few pests. This is inevitable – flies like the conditions of a tropical environment. Now I’m not comfortable killing flies – I know this may sound crazy but in general they don’t harm me and they don’t harm the plants. However sometimes there are too many or they lay their eggs and then the babies hatch, and then you’ve got real problems.

So I’ve implemented a plant that many of you will be familiar with, aka the Venus Fly Trap. As a young boy I loved these plants but could never keep them alive – that was totally my fault as I used to enjoy ticking the ‘feelers’ on the traps so that they would close. If you do this, the plant anticipates it will get something to eat, but sadly nothing. Do this more than a few times and you will kill it :(

But I’ve grown up now and know better. All this plant eats is flies. And if you look closely, the trap in the middle has actually closed and you can see the remains of a fly. So it’s doing its job which put a smile on my face today.

There’s a couple of leaves that have gone black and died, but the bulk of the plant is very healthy and active. I don’t know how many of these traps I will need for our tents but quite a few. Nevertheless I’m a lot more comfortable with they way they deal with flies, so I don’t have to.

Do you have a venus fly trap at home or maybe something similar you could suggest? I would love to hear about your experiences with them.Natures fly traps

Bacopa myriophylloides in flower

So it would seem that Bacopa myriophylloides is enjoying the conditions now and has treated me to just 2 single flowers this morning. A crisp pinky/white, but none the less very attractive. The stems are only about 15cm high at the moment so it’s a small plant, but a happy one! We’ve got about 30 of these in stock at the moment, so I wonder when the others might flower – would be great if they all did!IMG_0344 IMG_0345 IMG_0346

Limnophilia aromatica in flower

Here we have another very happy stem plant, and more lilac coloured flowers too – I wonder if this is a common theme in aquatic plants – I have seen white and lilac – maybe a yellow will show soon?

Limnophilia aromatica is a very easy stem plant – nice strong stems which are reddy brown and then rather soft green leaves. Easy on the eye, easy on the pocket. You can’t really go wrong with this beauty.

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Beautiful flowering aquatic plants

You know how much we love our plants here, and nothing puts a smile on our face more when the plants begin to flower. Not only is it delightful to see but it tells us a lot about the plant – i.e. it’s very very happy.

So I wanted to share this news with you. Today’s flowering plant is Hydrocotyle leucecephala and this is one of the easiest aquatic plants to grow underwater. Below are a few shots of it flowering (quite a nice round flower) and also an image of what they look like in groups (and yes they get tangled easily).

I’ll keep you posted on any other plants that flower!

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Tissue Culture Plants from Anubias in Italy

Due to the rising popularity of tissue cultured plants, I wanted to expand the range and offer some more plants that were a little different to what is available from Tropica.

Anubias which is a company based in Italy produce a very broad range of tissue cultured plants and some of them look pretty exciting. I also realise some of you may not have a clue what tissue culture plants are so here’s the definition:

Tissue culture (T/C) is a way to obtain perfect, sterile clones of a plant thanks to in vitro conditions, from a very small piece of a mother plant. T/C cultured plants are the best solution for many problems, for the aquarium enthusiasts.

Benefit for the aquarist:

  • The availability of plants generally avoided by plant nurseries, because difficult to grow emerged
  • Many T/C cultured species start growing very promptly once in a tank, faster than potted plants grown emerged
  • T/C plants are pesticide-free
  • T/C plants are algae spores-free
  • T/C plants don’t carry Lemna sp., snails, Hydra and any other unwanted organism
  • T/C plants are rockwool–free, so no contaminants or mechanic threats are carried into the tank

So there we have it. They’re pretty neat and as you can see from the above, sterile and free of all snails and algae. You can check out our range by clicking on this link.

Cryptocoryne petchi Pink CUP

have you seen our YouTube videos?

So I’m getting creative and producing high quality HD videos of our plants. This allows you (my lovely customers) to get a more in depth view of the plant you are currently admiring. And what better way to do this than a short clip.

Each one lasts about 90 seconds, and I’ve left a few notes on each plant for reference.

What do you think?

Fixated on iron…

I’m really surprised how iron focussed some people are. It’s rather worrying too. Problem is that so many manufacturers have banged on about it for some long, they’ve given the impression that it’s really important. So here’s some news for you:

iron is a trace element

That’s right – trace. That means it’s required in small quantities – not large quantities. Iron does not cause hair algae, it won’t make your plants grow better (on its own) and you really need to stop focusing on it so much.You’re also very unlikely to have only an iron deficiency, because nutrients are all generally linked.

Those of you who are wise will know that there are far more important things to be concerned about such as good water circulation, lighting on for no more than 8 hours per day, minimum 30% water change per week (and more if you are having algae issues) and adding quality fertilisers on a daily basis.

So does iron ever need to be dosed separately? You probably know the answer to this by now but for those of you who haven’t worked it out then no. You just need to add more of your main fertilisers, that’s all. Neutro T and Neutro+ cover this.

Enough said.

Not all plants are easy to grow…

Not all plants are easy to grow…

Yes, it’s true – some are and some aren’t. But if you decide on adding pressurised CO2, then those tricky plants become…not so tricky. To make that transition from easy plants, to difficult plants you need lots of CO2 better lighting and better water distribution with macro and micro nutrients. But here’s the flipper – when you improve one, you have to improve all of them. Step up CO2 and you have to tweak a few others. It’s no big deal but important that the right steps are taken – something people often overlook.

So what is easy then? An easy plant is one where you don’t really need to do much to succeed. You take it out of its pot, remove the rock wool and plant. Then in no time you’ll probably have some new shoots. An example of easy plant is Anubias nana.

You really don’t need to do much with this plant in order to grow – it’s even happy being tied to wood or rock.

Medium Difficulty – this is where it gets a little more interesting. The type of plant that falls into this category is one that prefers some type of CO2, (preferably the pressurised variety). As plants go up the scale of difficulty, in general they need more CO2, more light, more fertilisers and better water distribution. Lobelia cardinalis is one that falls under this category.

This plant (like all of our plants) is kept hydroponically and when we look at it in one of our grow tents, the leaves are dark green on the top and on the reverse, a deep purple (very nice). But you need intensive lighting for this plant to flourish so consider LED lighting or multiple T5 lights, then this plant will fly!!

Difficult Plants – The most tricky and challenging of all plants – and the key word really is challenging. Many have tried and failed very quickly but only because these plants allow little margin for error.

Hemianthus callitrichoides (HC for short) has to be the number one foregound plant. When you establish this plant and get it growing properly, it’s the definition of sheer delight. The tiny leaves (commonly known as baby tears) release O2 bubbles and your plant will literally be brimming with life.

Get it wrong and your HC will melt and disappear in front of your very eyes. To succeed the steps are simple – lots of CO2, medium to high light and lots of micro and macro nutrients. If you tick all the boxes and make sure CO2 bubbles are quite literally being pushed over and into this plant, it will grow quickly.

Summary:

Not all plants are easy to grow but at the same time, if they were things would be a little boring wouldn’t they? Challenging plants like Hemianthus callictrichoides are difficult but at the same time, the most rewarding.

I always recommend to hobbyists that they start with plants that are straight forward and easy, do lots of research (so much available on google and our blog), build up your confidence levels and then move up the order of plants in terms of difficulty. Don’t jump in with both feet (however tempting) and plump for difficult plants just because you like the look of them. Master the basics and then the rest will simply fall into line.

Food for thought…