Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Cryptocoryne albida 'costata'

Cryptocoryne albida costata

The green plant is an unknown - Has similar leaf shape to red leafed Crypt. albida 'costata'. I'm waiting on flowers to confirm

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Starting the emersed crypt collection

When we bought our house it included a run down garden shed where the roof had rusted and collapsed in. I bought some translucent fibreglass factory roofing cheap on ebay and put on a roof to make a kids cubby house...(+ gravel floor and the kids had fun painting it). They used it for a few weeks but it was too hot and uncomfortable in summer and after a while it collected spiders and rat droppings and became a no-go zone. Five years later I dumped the rat infested couch and mouldy rug and reclaimed the space.

I've grown many different crypts in planted tanks but not emersed before. I started my "formal" collection only 12 months ago. My "grand plan" is to propagate up enough of each type to have 2 pots of each variety emersed, get flowers and confirm IDs where I can and then compare and contrast to another 2 pots growing submersed in tanks... then share around the "offspring". For some slow growing crypts its going to take a while.

I'm growing my crypts in 95mm pots sitting in polystyrene boxes with water 10-20mm below the soil level under bubblewrap to contain the warmth and humidity. The lighting under the fibreglass is very subdued and diffuse.. but crypts grow on the forest floor in low light so it works well. Since most of the plants are fairly new the only maintenance I do is to remove any dead material so it doesn't go mouldy and on very hot days (<38C) I throw off the plastic and turn on a couple of misting sprays and wedge the door open so they don't bake (can see the black dripper line under the roof in the first pic). If any of the pots get mouldy I add more water to the polystyrene box to drown all the pots for a few days... and then siphon out the excess water a few days later which seems to fix it. One day I hope to have the burden of repotting pot-bound plants, but for now its set-and-forget. I tried having the water over the top of the soil level but the pots got a lot of algae. There are some varieties that may need to be a bit deeper (thinking of the crypt siamensis group) but so far they are struggling on OK. Some will also need bigger pots.

The potting mix is a DIY mix of old aquarium gravel (~<60%), peat moss (~<%40) (the good stuff not the pine bark rubbish Bunnings sell), some handfuls of "magic red clay" some shellgrit, a small amount of "rooster booster" chook poo fertiliser and I bury a small amount of osmocote in each pot.

In winter - I pick up the polystyrene boxes and put them in a glasshouse - but keep the bubblewap over them to keep them warmer and keep the humidity in. I measured the water as low as 8-10C last winter, but there were enough sunny days to warm them up and get them through the winter. Not all the plants in the photo have been through a winter yet so my fingers will be crossed... but thats months away.