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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've gotten a lot of good information from this forum over the past year or so that I've re-entered the hobby. Since this has been my first venture into live plants it's been particularly helpful.

I've run across a trick, and wanted to give back a bit by sharing it. I haven't seen this anywhere, so forgive me if I'm putting up something that's already well known to everyone, if that's the case, I've just managed to totally miss it. (shrug)

Background: I've been planting Val of various types, and had trouble keeping some of the plants in the substrate due to their roots being too short or to few to get a good hold (a circumstance which the MTS really are not helpful with).

I thought about this for quite a while and finally had a brainwave that has panned out. After reading here about tying plants to rocks/driftwood/etc. with cotton thread, and how rots away slowly enough that the plants can anchor well, but fast enough that it's not a permanent decoration, I finally realized I could use a similar approach to add artificial "roots" to my root-challenged vals plants.


The Trick: The basic idea is to cut a rectangle of cotton gauze and wrap it around the roots, then plant that into the substrate. The gauze substitutes for the roots, but allows new ones to grow out through it. As an extra benefit, for plants like vals, it can be a visual aid for getting the planting depth right: wrap it just below the crown and plant it deep enough that you can't see the gauze, and you're good to go.


Details: First, you have to make sure you get cotton gauze that doesn't have any kind of treatment on it (antibiotics/lotion/whatever they put on the stuff) which would probably be ... undesirable for obvious reasons.

Second, unfold the gauze completely so that you have a single layer of the stuff. At this point the threads will shift around a lot if it's handled too roughly, so a bit of delicacy is in order.

Next just cut a rectangle of gauze with a pair of nice, sharp scissors. Use the size that seems best for what you're planting. It seems to work best if it wraps around at least twice, and you should make a long enough "root" for your planting intentions. The water in the real roots will kind of temporarily stick the gauze to the plant, making wrapping pretty easy. I've found that giving the "roots" a light twist will make them stay rolled a bit better.

Finally, grab the end with your planting instrument of choice and shove it down into the substrate. All done. The weight of the substrate keeps it wrapped around the plant snugly, but not tight enough to cause the plant any distress.


It also occurs to me that this might also be a way to grant some protection during planting to plants with particularly delicate roots. As mentioned above, I've really only used this for vals, but I don't see why it couldn't work for other plants.

I hope that's helpful to someone.
 

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great tip and thanks for sharing. ill toss one back. my best friend for planting is really cheap black pond netting used to keep out leaves. it works great as a temporary anchor or a base for carpet plants. good for attaching moss to things and i have woven hc into it to keep it together till it can attach. the trick is to find the really cheap stuff as it is flimsy . almost like fishnet stockings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Dandy notion, drlower, I have some european water clover on order that might be good to try that with. Can I get that mesh someplace like Lowe's? Does it also break down after a while? Do you just weigh it down with rocks or something to hold it in place, or bury the edges in gravel, perhaps?
 

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great idea... well 2 great ideas really, so i figured i would share one also.

when i kept cichlids (big ones) i used squares, approx 2 - 3 inches accross, of sturdy plastic mesh sold here in plant centres to cover the holes in the bottom of pots and keep them open for drainage, its quite a solid plastic mesh with 3 - 4mm holes and i would tie the bottom of the plants to the square with fishing line and bury it under the gravel so that the square remains flat, then its nearly impossible for a fish to pull it out and only the biggest cichlids i had (8 - 9 inch pearl horseface) could manage to dig them up. i really only ever used this for cheap stem plants as most of them didnt last long with the fish snacking on them but i dont see why it wouldnt work for other plants.

its not as simple as your idea but it is effective when you need a solid plant anchor
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
That's an excellent idea, VaultBoy -- I expect it would work nicely for plastic plants as well ... not that there's likely to be anyone looking here for plastic plant tips, now that I think about it. :rolleyes:
 

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It's funny you posted this because I had to fix the same problem a few days ago. Great tip, and I'll throw my own out there, this is what worked for me since I didn't see your thread in time to use your trick ;-)

I used some of the extra net bag that came with my Aquaclear. The netting that the Biomax goes in, I had quite a bit left, so I cut it into 2" strips. Gather up all the long roots, stretch open the netting, and insert the ball of roots. For plants that didn't have many roots, I just put the netting up over the base. It's very stretchy and soft and the roots shouldn't have any problem growing out of it.
 
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