Alternantera: tips for growing in a home aquarium

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Alternantera: tips for growing in a home aquarium
Alternantera: tips for growing in a home aquarium

Characteristic features of the plant, advice on growing alternatives in a home aquarium and garden, recommendations for breeding, combating possible pests and diseases, facts for growers, species. Alternanthera (Alternanthera) belongs to the numerous family Amaranth (Amaranthaceae), which is sometimes called Shiritsy. It includes representatives of the flora, in the embryo of which two cotyledons are formed. Almost all species included in the genus grow on the territory of those lands where there is a tropical or subtropical climate. These include areas of America, Asia, the Australian continent and Africa, but such plants can even be found in the Galapagos. They prefer to settle in their natural environment in coastal areas, near waterways, which often occur in floods or floods.

Family name Amaranth or Schiritz
Life cycle Annuals or perennials
Growth features Herbaceous or subshrub
Reproduction Seed and vegetative (cuttings or division of the rhizome)
Landing period in open ground Seedlings are planted in early June
Substrate Neutral, medium moisture
Illumination Open area with bright lighting
Moisture indicators Moisture-loving
Special Requirements There are some difficulties
Plant height 0.1-0.25 m
Color of flowers White, pinkish, green
Type of flowers, inflorescences Globular
Flowering time May June
Decorative time Spring-summer
Place of application Aquariums, flowerpots, carpet beds, borders, flower drawings or portraits, flower beds, pool landscaping
USDA zone 4, 5, 6

Sometimes you can hear among the people how the alternant is called the Alternator. But the plant bears its scientific name due to the combination of Latin words "alternus" and "anthera", which translates as "variable" and "stamen". As a result, the phrase "variable stamens" is obtained and, in all likelihood, this indicates the alternation of sterile and fertile stamens.

All Alternanthera growing in nature have a herbaceous or semi-shrub shape and do not exceed 10–25 cm in height. The shoots are well branched and wide bushes are formed through them. The development rate of such bushes is quite high and there is the ability to reproduce quickly. Often, because of these properties, it is customary to use alternantera as a ground cover crop. These representatives of the flora can be grown both in the aquatic environment (aquariums) and as a pot culture. At the same time, the anther is also able to extract nutrients from both water and soil. It is accepted to grow as an annual or perennial plant.

Alternantera has gained popularity among florists and aquarists because of its brightly colored foliage. The shape of the leaf plates is lanceolate. The coloring will be able to take on shades of reddish-brown, orange, yellow or yellowish-green tones. It happens that on the surface of the leaves there is a pattern of whitish specks. All color combinations depend on the species.

During flowering, small and inconspicuous flowers are formed, which do not represent any decorative value. They gather inexpressive dense inflorescences, crowning the tops of the branches. The flowers are filmy, their color takes on a white, greenish or purple hue.

Tips for keeping alternantera in a pot or home aquarium

Alternantera in a pot
Alternantera in a pot
  • Lighting and selection of a landing site. Only under the influence of bright lighting will all the beauty of the foliage shades be revealed. The more sun's rays illuminate the bush, the more saturated colors the foliage will become. With a lack of light, the leaf plates will gradually acquire the usual green color, and, ultimately, it will simply become pale. The duration of daylight hours should be at least 12 hours, therefore, when growing in an aquarium, lights are needed.
  • Water indicators for aquarium maintenance. If it is decided to grow the plant in an aquarium, then acidity in the pH range of 6, 2–6, 8 is suitable for it, while the water hardness should be between 2 and 12 dKH.
  • Content temperature alternanters in the summer should be in the range of 24-28 degrees, and with the arrival of winter at least 15 units.
  • Humidity. Very high humidity parameters are most suitable and only under such conditions is Alternanthera possible to bloom, although its flowers have no decorative value, but the plant feels fine in dry indoor air.
  • Watering when keeping alternantera in a pot, regular ones are necessary throughout the growing season. But it is important to remember, for some species, that excess moisture is harmful.
  • Pruning. If you regularly trim the shoots, then they begin to bush very strongly.
  • Fertilizers. It is recommended during the growing season to support the plant with mineral fertilizers, which must be applied every 15-30 days. When growing in an aquarium, ferrous salts of iron are added to the water every two weeks.
  • Wintering alternantera. Because of her love for a warm climate, she will not endure winters in our latitudes, therefore, when the heat indicators are close to 15 degrees, the bushes are dug up and planted in containers. They are kept in the autumn-winter period in a room with good lighting, where the temperature is in the range of 15-17 degrees.
  • General advice on keeping in the aquarium. It is necessary to change the water frequently - every week up to 20% of the volume of the container. The plant does not like to overgrow with algae and loves crystal clear water, so a powerful filter is used.
  • Transplant and advice on soil selection. This tropical plant can be grown as a pot plant. Since its growth rate is small, it should be transplanted infrequently, only if the capacity has become small for the root system and the size of the bush itself. It is recommended to use a soil mixture of leaf and sod land, with the addition of humus and coarse sand - all parts of the components are taken equal. When kept in a pot, you need to lay a drainage layer on the bottom to avoid moisture stagnation. You will also need to make holes in the bottom of the container to drain excess moisture. When grown as an aquarium plant for Alternantera, the soil does not play a special role, therefore, special formulations of substrates for aquarium flora should be used. They should contain coarse sand, which has a positive effect on the growth of bushes. In an aquarium tank, it is recommended to place Alternanthera on shelves arranged on the sides so that the stems can rise above the surface of the water.
  • Application of the next anther. Since the plant is small in size, it is customary to grow it not only in aquariums; alpine slides and mixborders are decorated with such bushes, they are planted as border landscaping, and carpet flower beds, flower portraits and drawings are also created. Because of the love for wet soils, it can be planted in the coastal zone of artificial and natural reservoirs.

Breeding recommendations Alternantera

Alternantera grows
Alternantera grows

You can get a new plant by seed and vegetative methods (cuttings and division of the old bush).

The first method is rather difficult, since often Alternanthera does not form flowers, therefore it is recommended to use the second one in floriculture. In this case, preference is given to cuttings. It is customary to cut blanks for this in the autumn. Then the cuttings are planted in a nutritious and heated soil, a sand-peat mixture can act as it. The container with cuttings is covered with transparent plastic wrap and placed in a well-lit place without direct sunlight. The workpieces of the branches are deepened to the first leaf plate, while the length of the cutting should be at least 8-10 cm and 8 leaves. Care will consist of aerating and moisturizing the soil. When young leaves appear, the shelter can be removed and young alternanters can be accustomed to indoor conditions.

After signs of increased growth appear, the tops of the shoots must be pinched, which will help them start branching, forming new shoots on the sides. Cuttings can take root after 8-10 days. When May comes and return frosts take place, these plants are transplanted to a prepared place in the garden. To get more lush bushes in one planting hole, it is recommended to place 2-3 young seedlings. If Alternanthera is planned to be grown as a pot crop, then a small pot is selected.

When a plant is propagated in an aquarium, the cutting is simply left to float on the surface of the water. Soon, root shoots appear and such seedlings can be planted in the substrate.

With the arrival of spring, you can divide the overgrown bush. Usually on autumn days, when the heat indices begin to decrease, the bush of the parent specimen is transplanted into a pot and kept in greenhouses or a prepared room. In such a place, it is necessary to create good lighting and heat indicators are maintained at about 15 degrees. In winter, watering is carried out in moderation, waiting for the substrate to dry out on top. With the onset of May days, the alternantera is pulled out of the flowerpot, its elongated root processes are trimmed, and then division is carried out. It is necessary that each division has a sufficient number of roots and shoots. Then a landing is carried out to a permanent place in a garden, pond or pot.

Fight against possible pests and diseases alternantera

Alternantera leaves
Alternantera leaves

The plant is quite resistant and does not undergo diseases or pest attacks. But still, with frequent violations of the conditions of detention, it can be affected by gray rot, especially if this representative of the flora is grown as a pot culture. Such a nuisance happens with high soil moisture. To cure it, it is recommended to remove all affected parts of Alternanthera, and then treat the bush with fungicidal agents. It can be copper sulfate or similar drugs with a similar effect.

Of the harmful insects that harm the alternate, spider mites, aphids or whiteflies are isolated. If signs of damage are detected (whitish specks on the back of leaves or white midges, cobwebs on leaves and twigs or small greenish bugs), it is recommended to treat with insecticidal preparations with repeated spraying after a week.

Facts for florists about Alternantera, plant photo

Photo alternanteres
Photo alternanteres

Since there is information that some of the varieties have poisonous properties, it is important to clarify this aspect before buying.

Alternantera types

Variety of alternantera
Variety of alternantera
  1. Alternanthera reineckii. The native distribution area falls on the territory of South America. The branches of this shrub are about 25 cm long. The shoots have sessile foliage, but sometimes the leaves are crowned with short petioles. The color mainly includes various shades of red. The root system is tender. It can be grown in aquarium conditions, where the plant is attached to the walls of the container, then the stems can creep along the surface of the water, but if they are completely submerged under water, then the growth rate will slow down significantly. In culture, there is a dwarf-sized variety Alternanthera mini, which is distinguished by an even smaller size of bush and foliage.
  2. Sedentary Alternanthera (Alternanthera sessilis). This shrub can grow up to 30 cm in height. The variety is relatively undemanding and has gained popularity among aquarists due to its pink-green foliage, but can be grown in humid greenhouse conditions. When completely submerged in water, the growth rate does not decrease as much as that of Alternanthera reineckii.
  3. Alternanthera cute (Alternanthera amoena) or as it is also called the adorable Alternantera. The shoots are not so long in length and their maximum size reaches 10–20 cm. This species differs in that there is abundant branching in the lower part of the branches. Moreover, while the plant is young, the shoots are covered with pubescence and have grooves. The foliage is painted in greenish-red tones, alternating in places with orange color. The shape of the leaf plate is oblong-oval or in the form of a narrowed ellipse. When flowering, filmy small flowers are formed, collected in condensed apical inflorescences. The color of the flowers is whitish. The native territories of growth are in the lands of Brazil.
  4. Alternanthera versicolor predominantly growing in natural conditions in Brazilian territories. It can grow in the form of a dwarf shrub or have a herbaceous form. Perennial, which is close to the height of 15 cm. Due to the strong branching of the shoots, the shape of the plant resembles thickened bushes of spreading outlines. When the stems are young, their surface is covered with slight pubescence. The leaf plates have a blunt-pointed oblong-spatulate shape, while there is a narrowing towards the petiole. Its length is rather short. The surface of the leaves is covered with wrinkles. The name of the variety indicates the unusual color of its foliage, in which different shades of pink, yellow, red and greenish colors are mixed. This species is distinguished by a large number of garden variations.
  5. Alternanthera lilac (Alternanthera lilacina) or as it is also called Alternantera lilacin. Naturally, the look cannot fail to dwell on the decoratively painted foliage, which is varied on the upper and lower sides. So on top of the leaf is red or greenish, and the back of the maroon color scheme. The shape of the leaf plate is oblong. The shoots have upright outlines. If the plant is grown as an aquarium culture, then the length of its shoots can approach half a meter. If the owner provides fairly humid growing conditions, then the formation of whitish flowers is possible.
  6. Alternanthera red round also differs in rather long shoots, on which leaf plates are located in opposite order. They are attached to the branches by means of short petioles. On average, the length of the bush is 20 cm. The growth rate of this species is very low, but if all the rules of cultivation are followed, then the plant will delight with flowering. However, such flowers do not possess beauty.
  7. Alternanthera bettzickiana takes the form of a semi-shrub or has a herbaceous shape. This perennial plant can reach 15 cm in height with its vertically growing shoots. At the very base, the branches have pubescence. Since they are distinguished by strong branching, they can form spreading thickets. Sharpening is present at the tops of the leaf plates. The leaf shape is spatulate with a slight bend in the central part. The color takes on shades of olive-green color, while on the surface of the foliage there is a pattern of specks of whitish, white-yellow and reddish hues. Floral capitate inflorescences originate in the leaf axils that grow at the tops of the shoots. This species has a large number of forms, the leaves of which are cast in rich shades of green, red or yellow.

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