Sounds futuristic doesn’t it? I mean grown in jelly – how can you grow plants that way? Well a few businesses around the world are doing just that and have been doing so for a long time too. Strictly speaking it’s not jelly and is in fact a tissue culture which has been around since the 1950s. Tropica have been using tissue culture plants since the 1990s and they’re the most active in the industry and have begun to establish these types of plants and make them available to hobbyists. So what’s the benefits? Well for businesses like Tropica a lot. Plants grown in laboratories yield extraordinary amounts in perfect conditions so the plants literally flourish before your very eyes (just imagine being able to watch plants grow). Not only that but the plants are all disease free, they produce wonderful clean roots and the plants are much stronger compared to those which are produced by conventional methods such as seeds or cuttings. And to top it all off, they can pack hundreds and hundreds of plants into a very small space so from a square meterage point of view, they score a 10. And when the plants are big enough they chop them up into tiny portions maybe 8 pieces from one container and pot them up in one of their gigantic greenhouses. At some stage along the way they will be ready to sell. However, not all of them make it to greenhouse heaven, and some stay in their containers, and this is what Tropica have called Tropica 1-2-Grow! (catchy heh). But it’s all well and good hearing how great it is for Tropica, the most important part is how good is it for you right? You want to know what the benefits are when compared to the other option which is potted plants?
My own personal opinion is that they are very good but I’ll break this down into bit sized chunks. PROS: Tissue culture plants are free from all types of pests (snails etc) and are 100% free from algae. As a result if you decided that you wanted a tank which definitely had no snails, then tissue cultured plants are perfect. In addition it’s worth remembering that these types of plants take very well in the aquarium and you get less die off due to the plants living in a sterile environment from day one. And lastly, they ship very well so if you live abroad and buy from us then the plants are more than likely to arrive in perfect condition. CONS: The range is somewhat limited with 17 species available (however I expect this to increase in the future). The pots are not very big, roughly 7cm diameter. And lastly the plants themselves are not very big as the pot is only 4cm tall so you do, like the label suggests need to grow them on.
But taking all that into consideration, they are generally well received. In fact as an example, Hemianthus ‘Cuba’ is very popular because it’s great value and it really fills the pot up. I know some of you struggle with Hemianthus (previously discussed in the last newsletter) but the 1-2-Grow variety takes even better than the potted type – ok it costs a little more but you have to balance that up against size of plants and amount of die off. But what ever way you look at it, Tissue Cultured plants are here to stay and only a 6 months ago was I having a very brief discussion with Claus from Tropica and he very much thinks these plants are the future and will one day (maybe 5 years from now) become more popular than potted plants. Can you imagine that? Exciting heh