Southeast Asia and Australia
Background, midground in
very large aquariums
Description: Pogostemon stellatus is a stunning stem plant
originating from Southeast Asia and Australia. There are several
varieties of this plant currently in the hobby, differentiated mostly by
leaf size. A narrow-leaved variety first emerged in the hobby about
10 or 12 years ago, which was initially sold and traded under the
erroneous name of Eusteralis stellata. A broad-leaf variety from New
Guinea can grow quite large if given the room, with a leaf span of 8
inches or more across. Newest in the hobby is the needle-leaf variety,
with the finest leaves of all. When provided with proper conditions,
the stems of P. stellatus can develop a stunning reddish to purplish
coloration, adding a vibrant touch to a planted aquarium layout.
The proper growth of P. stellatus does require some attention by the
aquatic horticulturist. Medium to high light is necessary, as leaves in
the lower portions will shed without proper lighting or if they become
shaded. With higher light, carbon dioxide supplementation is a must,
as well as proper macronutrient and micronutrient supplementation.
Without these, the tips of growing stems tend to stunt, growing small,
curled leaves that portend the cessation of further growth.
P. stellatus “broad leaf” can sometimes be confused with the
similar whorled variant of Limnophila aromatica. These can be
distinguished by the purple nodes (where the leaves emerge from
the stem) on P. stellatus.
Pogostemon stellatus “broad leaf.”
Pogostemon stellatus has been readily available over the recent
years, with aquatic nurseries in Florida providing emersed-grown
pots of the regular and broad-leaf varieties to shops around the
country. The needle-leaf variety can only be obtained from other
hobbyists at the moment.
Use in Aquascaping: P. stellatus can be used as an
interesting background focal point in large aquariums. With its
stunning coloration and large leaves, the broad-leaf variety can
provide a beautiful contrast to green stem plants in aquariums
of 55 gallons or larger. The regular and needle-leaf varieties can
be used as background plants in medium to large aquariums
and can be trimmed into a bush for midground accents in large
Propagation: Once growth is well established, P. stellatus is
simple to propagate. The tops of stems may be trimmed, promoting
the growth of side shoots from stems left in the aquarium.
Alternatively, tops may be trimmed and the lower stems removed,
replaced with the newly cut stems. If the former method is employed,
removing a few of the side shoots on each stem will enable the
remaining ones to grow larger.