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Replanting R. indica cuttings

1526 Views 7 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Wheeler
I'm not sure if this belongs in "Plant Physiology" but I'll put it here for now.

I have this consistent problem with topping and replanting R. indica: right after replanting one, it will grow out a few more puny leaves with the internodes becoming very short. Then it will stop but a new branch will shoot off from a lower node. This branch will grow out beautifully... Until I have to trim and replant it. Then it does the same thing. Nowadays I usually leave the rooted portion in place because the new stems that form from it are fine.

While it sounds like I'm grasping at straws here, my theory is that when I replant a cutting, energy suddenly goes into growing roots; during this time, the proper growth of the stem/foliage is compromised. Once the roots are well-formed, the plant resumes growth - which may be most practical by forming a brand-new branch.

Anyway, I'm sure this isn't the case for everybody. Is there something I can do - nutrient-wise - that would allow the stem to continue growing normally after being cut and replanted? Maybe add a piece of Jobe's at the base of the replanted stem?

Tank info:
10 gallon
28W PC light (6700K)
Low-to-moderate liquid fertilization (specifics upon request)


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I know---I'm obsessed with iron, but it sounds like iron deficiency to me. All the Rotalas need high levels of iron.

My hypothesis: When the stem is cut and does not have a root system, it is not going to be as efficient at getting iron. Once some new roots have grown, it regains its uptake capabilities.
Hi Naomi!!

I used to find the same thing-- Then I realised that I could get away with planting a 2 inch stem of R. indica and it'll still grow just fine. That gives it time to get the roots going before you see it. When it reaches 4-5 inches everything's good again. At least IME...

I believe HeyPK is right. Fe is probably the culprit. With the good amount of light on that tank, I'd be sure to add ~.5 ml of an iron product daily. I use Flourish Fe. With iron in the water column, daily dosing seems to be better than a couple times per week.

In iron deficiency in the Rotalas an early symptom is smaller leaves and then comes death of the growing point. Probably, the death of the growing point had already occured, and that is why the new growth started and the old growth did not resume.
Paul - I'm getting pretty obsessed with iron lately, too. I'm seeing less of a number of problems since I increased the dosage, but I'm afraid that in *most* of the re-planted R. indica stems, this particular problem is not going away. Every now and again, a stem will continue to grow from the same tip, but only after putting out a few puny leaves, first. Looks weird. Sometimes, I even take a cutting from this 10-gallon and plant it in my 2.5-gallon tank with 8W NO fluorescent lighting, Flourite, DIY CO2, and basically close to the same dosage of iron as the 10-gallon, just scaled down. I even leave the cutting tall enough so that the tip is close to the light, but the same problem occurs, except that it takes longer for the new branch to make its appearance. Would it help to boost the iron at the roots? Like root tabs that contain iron?

John!!! Hi!!! It's so good to see you here. It's been a while since we've been in touch. Last time, you were still using plain gravel in that 15-gallon(?). Those reds were incredible! I saw you post somewhere that you replaced it with richer substrate. Believe it or not, I'm dosing Flourish Iron in my 10-gallon at 1.25 mL *per day*. On top of this, I'm adding about 10 drops of Flourish; I think this contains iron, as well. So while I think that this is actually enough iron for most of my plants, it still appears to be on the low side for others. This may be why my Alternanthera reineckii has NEVER looked good in my tank. The lower leaves of my M. umbrosum get ratty really fast. And M. matogrossense has been experiencing a slow, excruciating death - I'm down to the last two stems, which I'm sure are going to die very soon.

So are you saying that you only replant the top 2" of the cutting and let it branch out? I guess that's a way to do it... It's really a shame, though, that the beautiful, full-grown stems can't just be replanted and expected to continue its beautiful growth. If I could grow out 5-6 stems at the same time, I could always try to sell them. But it just never seems to work out this way.

Anyway, thanks. I may try dosing an additional 0.25 mL iron per day and see what happens. But I'd be a little worried about adding more than this.

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If you're adding that much, than iron isn't the issue. I always replanted my indica tops without trouble except when I was low on Fe. Not sure what the problem is.... You're in the Bay Area right? How's your Ca and Mg? Also, how is your NO3, and CO2? If old leaves are deteriorating, it has to be a mobile nutrient (check APD archives). I'd bet NO3. Add 1-2ppm and see what happens. That much shouldn't hurt if you're being cautious about it.

Yeah, I took the plain gravel out of that 20g-- The trace and iron consumption was unbelieveable, so I needed to do something to fix that. I added the kitchen sink, Hehe. Worm castings, solid humics, laterite, mulm, and Activated Carbon. That fixed it alright. Even better reds and a third of the traces and Fe added to the water column... You should see the E. stellata. I'll attach a pic here... Sorry about the quality. I had to shrink the pic 90% in order to be able to post it here.


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John, that's beautiful! I would not even try E. stellata with the way my plants are growing at present.

I think this will catch you up a little bit on what's been happening in my tank:

So the GH in the tank was high (~13dH), and apparently, so were the macros - to the point where the amount of iron and traces I was adding were not enough to keep up. I've discontinued the use of Equilibrium as well as the buffers, but I only do ~10% water change per week, so I'm pretty sure that the GH is still up there. Tom suggested that the CO2 levels are probably too low, and I'm certain that this is the case, as well. I can't test for it with the pH/KH/CO2 chart, however, because up until a week or so ago, I was adding the buffers.

As for my macros, I've cut back to 1/2 of KNO3 (from the max I was using), 1/2 mL Flourish Phosphorus, and add very minimal K2SO4, each on a daily basis.

Anyway, I guess as long as the offshoots are growing nicely, I shouldn't really complain. It wasn't so long ago that I couldn't get it to grow at all.

Thanks again. And John - I'd love to see the rest of that tank!

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Well, if it's not traces, NO3 or CO2 then I'm stumped... That Eco-Complete stuff sure is potent. I'd bet that's why your re-growth is doing so well. Try doubling your traces, but keep iron the same for a week. Then try a tad more NO3 but you shouldn't need it. CO2 is always a concern...

My tank is a mess of growth right now-- all wild, but really the healthiest growth I've ever had. I'll send you a pic in a week or so. You can tell me what you think:)
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