Five easy stem plants

Stem plants are what you see in stores sold in bunches that are banded together. Each individual stem in the bunch grows as an individual plant. Some of these plants are easier to grow than others. Here are five popular and easy to grow stem plants:

Hygrophila difformis, Wisteria

Wisteria has a distinctive look with its pale green and fern like leaves. It grows quickly and easily under moderate to strong light. With thick stems it will grow upright. If the stems are thin it will tend to flop over and grow somewhat horizontal. It will consume nitrate readily if it is getting enough light. Adding C02 will make it grow even faster. Like many stem plants, it tends to have the most dense leaf growth near the tops of the stems that are closest to the light. When the stems get too tall, trim off the tops and replant them to preserve that dense leaf growth and thick strong stems. The new growth from the original cut stem will have much thinner stems with wider gaps between the leaves.

Alternanthera reineckii. Red Temple

Red Temple is one of the easier red plants to grow. The underside of the leaves range from a purplish red to a bright red while the top side is olive green. The leaves grow upward toward the light with the red underside facing forward so all that is seen is the red side of the leaf. It does best with bright light and at least 20ppm of Co2 in the water. It will grow all the way to the water surface if you let it.

Ludwigia repens

Ludwigia is native to the southeastern USA. It grows in marshy bogs and shallow ponds. I is a combination of dark red and green. The brighter the light the more red it gets. The stems tend to have very dense leaf growth at the tops and the lower stems become bare of leaves with thick, hairy exposed roots. Frequent topping off and replanting is needed to retain the more desirable looking dense growth.

Hemianthus micranthemoides

This plant has very thin stems and tiny leaves. The stems will grow upright in tight groups like a bush, or it can be trained to grow horizontal as a ground cover. The brighter the light and the higher the Co2 level the faster it will grow. Since this plant has very little body mass, it will start to disintegrate pretty quickly if conditions in the tank go bad for an extended period of time.

Rotala indica

Rotala indica has small tooth shaped leaves that are pinkish orange in color. The stems grow straight up and branch. It grows fairly quickly under moderate to bright light and with added Co2 it will really take off. To prune the plant simply top off and replant. In groups it is a nice mid to background plant for a splash of color. It is also fitting for an Asian theme tank.