When cutting stemmed plants for
propagation you have to include at least
one node, but more should be included.
The node is the place where the leaves grow
out of the stem. It’s also a place where new
stems and roots can grow. After cutting
your stemmed plants, if you are taking
them to be sold or traded, you can just leave
them or gently wrap them in bundles with
weights or carefully with rubber bands.
Remember these are usually delicate, and
damaged portions of the plants will die. Put
these in bags and transport them within 24
hours for best results.
If the new cuttings are to be propagated
in the original aquarium, they will need
to be planted just like the original plants
were. At least one node will need to go
under the gravel or substrate, which is
where new roots will first form. Sometimes
roots form at nodes that aren’t under the
substrate, too. The stem above the gravel
should have several nodes with leaves,
though. As long as there are nodes, even
pieces of stem without leaves will often
grow and develop new leaves. Of course,
the better condition the piece of plant
you’re trying to propagate, the more likely
you’ll be successful. Fortunately with
aquarium plants, most of the time—as
long as the pieces aren’t of extremely poor
quality—they are likely to grow.
Scissors should be used with thick-stemmed plants like this Hygrophila. Roots, leaves, and stems
will all grow out of the nodes, clearly visible in this photo.
Plants With Runners
Plants with runners are best
characterized by Vallisneria and some of
the Sagittaria and Echinodorus species.
Other plants that grow along runners
include Marsilea and Ranunculus. Runners
are like stems growing along or under the
substrate with nodes of leaves and roots.
A piece of runner alone is worthless. The
nodes are where new leaves, roots, and
more runners will originate from.
When taking cuttings to propagate
these types of plants, be aware that more-developed plants will almost always grow,
and those that are less developed don’t
always survive. It is okay to take a larger
node that has smaller ones attached to
it, as long as there’s one good plant that
has a reasonable root system and several
leaves. Bag or replant these cuttings. When
replanting, be sure to get the roots under
the substrate, but leave the crown of the
plant (where the leaves grow out of) above
the substrate. There shouldn’t be a problem
if you bury it slightly, but if you bury it too
deeply the plant may not survive.
Plants like Ranunculus grow on runners, which can be cut between plants.
Swordplants are propagated in the
aquarium through flowering stalks that
produce baby plants or through division
of the crown. Amazon swords can often
be purchased with baby plants already
growing on them. Wait until the baby
plants have leaves and roots developed
before removing them from the parent
plant. Be careful to avoid burying the
crown of the plant when rooting. The
better the root system on the plant before
planting, the more likely it is to stay in
the substrate. Sometimes you have to
plant them a couple of times before the
roots take hold enough to stay in place.
Swordplants may also split at the crown
into two or more plants. When looking at
your swordplant, if you see two or more
distinct rosettes of leaves, the plant has
divided. You can split your swordplant
and replant the separated plants. When
doing this you have to be careful—make
sure your plant has fully developed into
Tropical Fish Hobbyist www.tfhmagazine.com