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Newbie L. Aromatica Grower - all pointers welcome!

I just started trying to grow this plant for culinary use. I don't have fish, don't plan to, but I have been trying to learn to grow this plant for quite a couple of months. I have tried to find other growers on various grower lists to which I subscribe, but am having no luck finding such. When researching growing tips, I found this forum and several others where the plant is discussed as an aquarium plant. So, I'd like to respectfully ask a few questions.

I am a professional grower and one of our specialties is growing for our customers things that not everybody else grows. I have chefs interested in this crop so decided I'd try to grow it. First problem I had was finding a source for the plant (in hindsight, guess I should've tried the aquarium plant sources), but I finally found one and bought 6 plants in 2” pots. I had heard they love heat and moisture, so since I have received them they have lived in my germination shed under lights. They get 12 hours of light a day from 4 Phillips F40T12/C50 light bars like these. I noticed within a week or so of receiving them, some of the older leaves started drying up and turning brown on each of the 6 plants. I up-potted them into 4” pots of potting soil, and this continued. I thought maybe lack of heat or moisture was contributing, so I put more water in their watering trays. Those 4” pots now sit in about 3 inches of water constantly. The leaf browning continues. The new growth on the upper part of the plant all looks great, but most of the leaves on about the lower half of each plant stem starts browning from the outside in. Of course in most crops this can be a sign of not enough water, although the greenness of the leaves furthest from the roots at the top does not support this. So at this point I'm not sure what the problem is. If anything sticks out according to what I've said so far, I'd love to hear your thoughts.


In researching tips for growing this new (to us) crop, I found this forum and decided maybe they aren't staying wet enough and why not try to grow one as a test in an aquarium? I have located a used 20G aquarium, filter, pump, light bar, and gravel. Once I have everything cleaned and disinfected, I'm going to plant one of the plants in the aquarium gravel and then fill it with water and see what happens. I live in NE TX, and summer is upon us, so the daily temps will be in the Fahrenheit 90's moving over 100 within a few weeks, low in the 70's at night. I plan for this aquarium to be outside, so I intend to utilize the sun, not the aquarium lights.


I had a freshwater tank growing up and am not unfamiliar with aquariums, but this is my first attempt to use one to grow a plant crop. I have read this helpful discussion and others. Are their any words of caution you would give me before I try this experiment? Is pH and/or chlorine a problem for this plant, for instance? Is just plain aquarium gravel okay as a planting medium? Also, since I won't have fish in with it, what do you suggest as a fertilizer? I grow organically, so I keep on hand fish extraction and/or emulsion and seaweed as general fertilizers, but I'm willing to source others if needed. I am not so much concerned with the color of the foliage so much as the flavor. I believe my chefs are looking for it to be delivered green, but they are most concerned with flavor and quality of the leaves and have probably never seen it any other color.


It sounds from reading this thread that the plant is pretty hardy in the aquarium, but if it is particularly sensitive about one or more aspects, I'd like to find out before I unnecessarily kill it.


Best regards from a hopeful limnophila aromatica newbie,
Laurie
 

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Timwag2001, thanks for your feedback. This is exactly the type of feedback I'm looking for. At this point, there are many more things I DON'T know about growing this than things I do know about it. Gotta start somewhere.

Guess I'll 86 the idea of growing in the sunlight and find a shadier area, as you both seem confident algae will be a big problem with direct sun.

Tuffgong, thanks to you as well for your feedback. I'll assume at this point that algae eaters won't be able to keep up with algae production of the sun but will keep that idea in mind. I'm inferring from your posts that you believe the part growing under water will be inedible, right? Why so? I'm sure this is a really stupid question, but it'd help if you spelled it out for me, please.
 

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Tuffgong, thanks for the feedback. That makes perfect sense about sun and the underwater part having algae. I will look into the hydroponics aspect as well. I had read earlier in this thread about propagating the plant by cutting and replanting the tops, very cool.

Robert H, thanks so much for your insight. I don't have a lot of plant stock to work with yet, but looks like I'll be trying several scenarios, none of which will involve sunlight since that now sounds like a really bad idea. I have a 10G and 20HG aquarium. I will be putting one of those under lights with a plant of two emersed in a few of inches of water as you suggested.

One logistical question on this, though. If I'm not misreading your post, you're saying I could put one of my potted plants in the aquarium, add enough water to cover the roots and base, run a pump continuously for circulation and run the lights some amount of time each day (will start with 8 hrs and may have to play with that some depending on how the plant does unless somebody chimes in and already knows the answer.) What keeps the soil from just making a big mess in the water, in other words, what keeps it in the pot? Or do I care? The plants are in just a good basic potting soil, so it's pretty loose. Cannot think offhand of any medium that wouldn't just mix up with the water. What am I missing?

I also might try planting a plant near the shore of my irrigation pond, again unless somebody tells me that is a really bad idea. If I plant it a few inches in of the water line far enough back from where I think the water line will drop the lowest this summer, I can maybe reproduce the bog you describe. Algae grows like nobody's business in the pond so the submerged part of the plant will have it, but the above water part where I harvest should be fine.

I realize in both the aquarium and pond configurations, I'll have to create that terrarium effect you described. Not a problem in the aquarium, as I already have domes that should work. I'll have to think about how to do that with the pond planting. At least I now know that the reason the leaves are browning and curling up in my germination shed is they aren't staying moist enough.

Your comments about above water leaf characteristics versus below water make perfect sense. I was able to verify with one of my chefs yesterday that this is the herb she is in the market for. I think ours have the small, roundish leaves.

Again, thanks to you both for all your help so far. What I know about this plant obviously fits in a very small space, so your help is very much appreciated.
 

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Safe temp range for L. aromatica?

I've followed jman's advice and am in the process of setting up a 20G tank to grow L.a. emersed. The ideal location for this tank from a convenience standpoint is in my garage. Unfortunately, August came to NE TX in May this year. Using a digital max/min thermometer/hygrometer, I'm getting max readings of 107 dFahrenheit/75% humidity without lights and 110 dF/75% with lights. This is a covered empty tank with a couple gallons water, no plants yet. Pretty sure that's too hot for this plant, but cannot find what IS a good temp range to make this guy happy. I'm taking measurements in a room within the a/c'ed house, but was wondering what others thought was a good temp range and what humidity do I need to be shooting for? Thanks in advance...you guys have been a great help so far.
 

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Thanks for the tip, chad320. I don't mind algae in the water. Before I read your post, I had found a place in my a/c'ed germination shed to put the tank. I've got germination lights on it 12 hours/day. Because I don't want to kill off my modest quantity of plant stock, I put one plant in the tank this morning. The tank came with a cover with a fairly large opening which I covered up but for a couple vent holes. The light bar sits on top of the other big opening. I'm getting 84 df/80% humidity so far, so we'll see how the plant likes it.

The good news is it tip propagates just as easily as you guys describe. I've successfully started 5/6 attempts so far. Now if I can just get the humidity to a level it likes, should be good to go. If I can't get good results where it is, will bring it to a room with south facing window as you suggest.

Thanks,
Laurie
 

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jman, thanks! I've started some new plants and as soon as they look like they are going to make it, I'm going to put them in plastic bags with holes as shown in the link. I'll have to put them in a shaded area, as we are in the high 90's or low 100's every day these days. The ones I've put in the 20G aquarium under lights are looking better than when they were out in the open under lights, but not great. I don't have a light bar for this aquarium, but I have a two-bulb germination light sitting on top of the opening in the lid of the aquarium. The other opening in the lid is covered in plastic. The temp is staying pretty constant, 80ish, and humidity is anywhere from 80-95% during the 12 hours each day the light is on. But those leaf ends are still browning. Maybe this bag method will get it hot enough and humid enough to make them more happy.
 
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