Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Emersed vs. Submersed Growth

Aquatic plants often grow in areas that are subject to constantly changing water levels, so most have the ability to grow both submersed and emersed (rising above the surface of the water). The benefit of growing plants emersed is that they grow much faster above water. In fact, this is how most aquatic plant nurseries grow their plants. However, emersed growth is much different physically than submersed growth. Leaves that function above water won't be able to survive underwater and vice versa. This is also why plants grown emersed will often die back and look completely different when they grow back in their submersed form. This is a critical stage for the plant, and also for your aquarium. Make sure to remove any dying leaves or stems so they don't pollute the water. It will take anywhere from a week to a month for a plant to adapt to its submerged form. Leaves are often smaller and thinner, and stems are much less thick since they no longer have to provide as much structural support for the plant. A plant will often look and behave completely differently in its submersed form. Take Lobelia cardinalis for example:



You'll find that many plants flower when they grow emersed, as polination is obviously quite hard to accomplish while submersed! In the next article, I'll discus how to set up an emersed growing tub so you can experiment with speedy emersed growth to quickly expand the amount of a plant you might have.


  1. Looking forward to the next post! I've been wanting to try it :)

  2. Dude, good post. Brief, to the point ... and a teaser for the next one. I'll be back ...

  3. Huh. I did not know this. They really do look completely different emersed vs submersed.

  4. wow! I absolutely love your blog! I have been reading every post for awhile now. I find it so educational for some one who is just starting with planted tanks! thanks for your insight!

  5. As always, a great post. Can't wait to see what you have for emmersed growth. I've been trying to get some Japanese Hairgrass in a small container with soil and water growing but it doesn't seem to propagate nor die.

  6. What about taking a plant that is growing near water but not submersed and growing it submersed. Is it possible?


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