Alternanthera Reineckii is a plant for a tank, aquarium, or indoor flower. The plant is considered capricious to care for, but if you follow the easy growing rules, it will decorate your home aquarium or paludarium.
Alternanthera types and varieties
The numerous genus Alternater includes about 200 species that differ in botanical description (color, size, leaf shape), stem height and growth rate. The natural habitat of plants is swampy areas, the coasts of rivers and lakes, flooded fields in the tropics of Asia, North and South America.
Alternanthera Reineckii comes from southern Brazil and Paraguay. The species is distinguished by good adaptability to the habitat and ease of cultivation.
Adult specimens reach 25 cm in height, the dwarf Reinek variety, Mini, grows up to 18-20 cm.
When the stems reach the surface of the water, they continue to develop outside the reservoir. At the same time, airy leaves are formed on the shoots, and the lower ones fall off as unnecessary. So that the hydrophyte does not lose its attractiveness, it is important to monitor the growth and pinch the tops of the stems in time. This preserves the decorativeness of alternanthera, activates the formation of lateral shoots, gives the bushes density and volume.
Miniature pinkish or yellow-green flowers in the axils of the leaves have no special decorative effect. The beauty of the plant lies in the unusual color of the leaves and stems with a predominance of red and pink hues. Reineckii sessile leaves are arranged in pairs and crosswise on the stem – each pair is rotated 90 ° with respect to the previous one.
Lovers of aquariums and paludariums are better off choosing highly decorative alternanthera varieties: for example, alternanthera roseafolia with pink foliage, Purple Prince or Purple Knight with dark purple leaves.
Representatives of the species Alternanthera Lilovaya grow slowly, adult specimens stretch 40-50 cm from the ground surface. Plants are well suited for planting in the middle of an underwater landscape or along the sidewalls of an aquarium. The elongated leaves are two-colored: dark green or reddish-green above and dark red below.
Sedentary Alternanthera (sessilis) has a high growth rate – up to 5 cm per week. In the terrestrial or underwater form, the stems are dense and highly branching, and in subspecies growing in conditions of low humidity, they are creeping.
The color of the leaves ranges from green-lilac to pink-purple. The Sessilis Rubra variety with a bright ruby color of the leaf plates looks the most attractive in aquariums.
Alternantera Shiny (splendida) is difficult to transplant and takes a long time to take root in a new place. The height of erect stems reaches 20-40 cm.
Growing requires bright lighting, regular feeding with iron preparations, and a temperature range: + 22 … + 30 ° С. Only under such conditions will the plant please with the pink-red or red-violet color of the leaves.
The height of adult specimens of Bettzik’s alternanthera is about 15-20 cm. The opposite lobed leaves are olive-colored. In different varieties, the surface of the leaf plates is speckled with numerous spots of white, yellow, or red.
Rosanervig strikes with unusual ellipsoidal leaves. The upper part is painted brown-green, the lower one is pale pink or lilac-red. Leaves are always drawn towards the light source, so their bright back is clearly visible. Under favorable conditions, this alternanthera blooms with small white flowers that appear in the leaf axils almost all year round.
The plant is suitable for creating dense patches of green in the middle or along the sides of the aquarium. The color of the Betzikiana alternanthera (ficoidea) is dark green, light green, pink, yellow, dark purple (red). A peculiarity of the species is the oblong leaves in the form of boats. The height of adult specimens does not exceed 15-20 cm.
Another variety of alternanthera with red or purple leaves and long (up to 20 cm) shoots will adorn any aquarium. Hydrophyte grows slowly, but with optimal parameters of the aquatic environment and a sufficient level of illumination, it blooms for a long time.
The maximum height of the alternanthera Cardinalis (cardinalis) is 40 cm. The oblong-lanceolate leaves have a double color – rich green and bright red. The Cardinal variety thrives best when the tops of the stems are above the surface of the water but will thrive even when fully submerged in water.
Alternanthera lilacina is a relative of the lilac variety. She has an identical botanical description and similar growing conditions.
Alternanthera Adorable is more often used in potting culture. Prefers a humid warm climate with an air temperature of + 20 … + 28 ° С. The height of erect stems is 15-25 cm. Oval leaves, depending on the variety, have a green, red-orange or burgundy hue.
Alternanthera Reineckii Aquarium Plant Care
The Reineckii variety is more suitable for aquariums with tropical fish since the optimum temperature of the aquatic environment for it is + 24 … + 28 ° С. When the temperature drops to + 20 ° C, the alternanthera will stop growing, and at lower temperatures, it will start to hurt and die. In order for an aquarium plant to be please with bright leaves, the acidity of the water (pH) is needed in the range of 6.2-6.8, and the hardness (dH) – 2-12 ° F. Mandatory growing conditions are weekly replacement of 20-25% of the total volume of water and the use of a powerful filter.
The composition and structure of the soil for Alternanthera does not matter. Hydrophyte grows well in muddy and infertile substrates. The plant receives most of the nutrients directly from the water, and uses the soil only as a support. For the root system of Alternanthera, coarse sand or quartz substrate with a fraction of 2-3 mm is better suited. If gravel or pebbles are laid at the bottom of the aquarium, the flower can be planted in a low container with sand.
Aquarium water is the only source of nutrients for Alternanthera, so regular feeding is a must. In addition to complex fertilizers, you need to add ferrous salts to the water 1-2 times a month. These are ready-made compositions with a high content of a trace element or ferrous sulfate (ferrous sulfate).
When applying ready-made fertilizers, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on the package. When feeding with iron sulfate, the dosage is determined individually at the rate of 1-2 mg per 10 liters of water.
The color of alternanthera leaves directly depends on the intensity and duration of illumination: with a lack of natural or artificial light, bright leaves turn pale and turn green. Experienced aquarists advise using fluorescent lamps of the LB type with a calculated power of 0.5 W per 1 liter of water. Ugly burns appear on the upper leaves from the more powerful lamps. Luminaires should work 11-12 hours a day.
Propagation of Alternanthera Reineckii Aquarium Plant
The first breeding option is division. Overgrown bushes must be carefully removed from the ground and divided into parts. Each delenka should have at least 2-3 leafy shoots and full-fledged roots. In this way, it is easy to get several from one plant: flowers can be planted in different areas of the aquarium, sold or presented to friends-aquarists.
The second breeding option for Alternanthera Reineckii is grafting:
- Cut off the tops or side shoots, which have formed at least 4-5 leaf whorls.
- Leave them to float on the surface of a man-made reservoir.
- When the cuttings release roots, bury them in the ground.
All varieties of Alternanthera Reineckii can exist as swimming, so young specimens will develop well without rooting.