Couple of techniques I came up with on my own:
- Buy plant weights
and 4" cable ties. Make sure that the "teeth" on the cable ties go all the way up
to the square head. Use a pair of needle nosed pliers to aid you in rolling up a plant weight. The hole in the middle should be quite large... large enough for the plant stem to fit through very very easily. But, just large enough so the square head of the cable tie will NOT fit through. Once the plant weight is rolled, clip the bottom of a stem just below an internode, clipping off any leaves at the node. Gently slip it through the rolled plant weight. Now, fasten a cable tie around the plant stem. Since the cable tie has VERY fine teeth, you can tighten it JUST perfectly enough so that it is NOT squeezing the plant stem, but will not slide off the bottom. Be VERY careful NOT to squeeze the stem with the tie. Clip the excess cable tie tail off. You will now end up with a stem with a weight on the bottom that will not slide off. Simply drop it in the tank where you want it. I have had VERY few stems come loose using this technique.
- Use plant plugs
, the normal size. Ignore the directions. Use a serrated knife to slice a plant plug in half. Now take one of the halves and slice out a thin depression in the middle (from edge to edge). Clip your stems below
the internodes and clip off any large leaves. For small or fine leaves (such as anacharis), leave the leaves alone. Lay 6 or so stems (or more if you're feeling bold, I've done up to 12) in the depression in the plant plug half. Lay the other half on top. Gently hold the halves together and slide the white mesh that comes with the plant plug over the halves. Get two 8" cable ties and fasten them around the white mesh. Put one towards the top of the white mesh and one towards the bottom. You can fasten them slightly tight as the plant plug material will cushion your stems, to an extent
. You want it tight enough that the stems remain in place but not TOO tight. Clip off the tail ends of the cable ties. Now bury the plant plug in the tank substrate at the desired location. The plug protects the bottom of the stems. It also protects plant roots if you are planting rooted plants.
Hope that wasn't too hard to follow!
A very important guideline... keep your plants in cool water as much as possible while you are working with them. Fill a bucket with cold tap water and place plants in there whenever you are not handling them. Don't hold the stems with your fingers for too long. The heat from your fingers can damage the stems. Be careful not to squeeze the stems. When you work with the plants on a surface, don't use a towel. Use something that doesn't absorb water, such as a plate or piece of glass (like a tank top). Some species are hardy and this isn't much of an issue, but for many other species, it is.