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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think I remember Tom Barr saying that the bottoms of just about all stem plants start to look pretty crappy when they start getting bigger and filled out. I let my ludwigia narrow leaf grow pretty crazy and even with weekly trimmings the bottom half of the plant starts to look ratty and gets some algae on it. My Wistiria is the same way. The top half always looks on point but the older leaves get real ugly and wilt downward. When I trim the top off the bottom part stay ugly. I have read people suggest to trim the top and uproot and discard the bottom. That seems weird to me. All my plants grow pretty crazy root systems and that would cause a huge mess every week.

Any thoughts?
 

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Trim right down close to the substrate (within about an inch or so, I'd think) and let them regrow from the roots?

If they're not really sensitive/delicate plants and they have good root systems, I'd expect them to come back fine, though you could save the tops to replant if needed.
 

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I've been wondering this too so great question about the roots. If we keep trimming low as possible will all the existing roots decay and affect the water? Or affect new "tops" from growing? I doubt this but what do I know lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You heard right. Trim the top and replant. Pull out the bottom. At least that's what I have always done

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How often do you do this? If I did that I would have to do that every week or two. I get about 5-6 inches a week in growth from the ludwigia. Would be huge ploom of stuff from the substrate.

Trim right down close to the substrate (within about an inch or so, I'd think) and let them regrow from the roots?

If they're not really sensitive/delicate plants and they have good root systems, I'd expect them to come back fine, though you could save the tops to replant if needed.
All of the root systems are very strong and would def regrow. My concern in taking out too much plant mass would be algae starting to form.

I always see people's ar mini looking good and it's a stem. Is that just from trimming like crazy so the lower leafs don't wilt?
 

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If you're really worried about removing so much plant mass that it causes algae, I'd think you could do the trimming back in stages, half (or one third if it's a lot of plants or you're really concerned) of your goal and then the next section when the previously trimmed plant's roots start to put out new growth.
 

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Trimming stems is certainly an acquired skill. What I do is start with plants in the back. Let them grow a little and trim the tops so that a few nodes are left. Plant the tops in front. Repeat.

This way you have a nice view even of the lower parts. After many cuts the back stems start getting too thick so and I can remove just those and replace with tops. Just a little disturbance and no big reset.

Of course it depends on the stem we are talking about. Bacopa will not have many sideshoots. Staurogyne can look good even when very crowded. Most Rotala and Ludwigia will branch like crazy, even without cutting the tops.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Trimming stems is certainly an acquired skill. What I do is start with plants in the back. Let them grow a little and trim the tops so that a few nodes are left. Plant the tops in front. Repeat.

This way you have a nice view even of the lower parts. After many cuts the back stems start getting too thick so and I can remove just those and replace with tops. Just a little disturbance and no big reset.

Of course it depends on the stem we are talking about. Bacopa will not have many sideshoots. Staurogyne can look good even when very crowded. Most Rotala and Ludwigia will branch like crazy, even without cutting the tops.
Yeah my ludwigia shoots out like crazy when I trim it. I can see how if you get into a routine of trim and pull every week you'll eventually not have too crazy of root systems to cause a bunch of disturbances. Probably have more uniformity as well. I let my ludwigia fill my whole tank as a way to temp build plant mass to limit algae. I think moving forward I will use stems as more of an accent to my "bulb" plants. I just added some Sagittaria and will have dhg carpeting and I would like to find some blyxa japonica. I think long term I'll keep ar mini as my "accent plant".

Thank you all for your help. Got some good info
 

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I would also like to point out that while plant mass is a good target, you also need plant growth to control algae. If your plants don't have enough space to grow problems will appear. Trimming and thinning is good practice to maintain a good growth rate and good water circulation.

Funny, I actually moved back to stems because bulb and rosette plants grow to big for my aquascaping ideas. Ar mini is a supper nice plant. Blyxa is a stem, see just can't avoid them :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I would also like to point out that while plant mass is a good target, you also need plant growth to control algae. If your plants don't have enough space to grow problems will appear. Trimming and thinning is good practice to maintain a good growth rate and good water circulation.

Funny, I actually moved back to stems because bulb and rosette plants grow to big for my aquascaping ideas. Ar mini is a supper nice plant. Blyxa is a stem, see just can't avoid them
good call on plant growth over plant mass and also how it relates to water circulation that is something I was definitely thinking wrong about
 
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