The neat aspect about plants is that they can be kept in a variety of containers, such as an aquarium! You might have a tank with a number of freshwater fish and invertebrates, how will you adorn this habitat?
The Amazon Sword plant is a common choice for freshwater aquarium owners!
The Amazon Sword plant is a member of the family, Alismataceae, or water plantains. Taking it one step further, this type of plant can be grouped into the genus Echinodorous.
There are plenty of varieties and species of Amazon Sword plants, or Burheads, but they all share vibrant, green leaves that are at least partially submerged in water. The roots are actually quite strong, making it a good choice for those new to plant care.
- 1 AMAZON SWORD PLANT CARE BASICS
- 2 AMAZON SWORD PLANT PROPAGATION
- 3 AMAZON SWORD PLANT INVADERS: PESTS AND DISEASES
- 4 AMAZON SWORD PLANT PROBLEMS
- 5 5 TIPS AND TRICKS TO A HEALTHY AMAZON SWORD PLANT
- 6 AMAZON SWORD PLANT FAQ
AMAZON SWORD PLANT CARE BASICS
Adorning your freshwater aquarium with an Amazon Sword plant has a number of benefits.
Not only are your fish provided with a sense of cover, but you also create a display of something similar to an underwater forest.
People will be marveling at your tank. Here are the aspects to consider in ensuring that these plants stay lush and vivacious!
Just because they live under the sea – well, water – doesn’t mean that they don’t need a good amount of soil. In fact, substrate is the only way that you can secure the plant so that it stays at the bottom.
Amazon Sword plants cannot survive without the addition of certain nutrients. Aquatic plants tend to have this problem. The water will dilute their chances of absorbing any vital nutrients.
When going to your local store to purchase soil, find one that is nourishing. It should be especially rich in iron. Many have also chosen to use gravel on top of their soil to further secure their plants.
You can do this without having to completely drain your tank. Just simply use a PVC pipe to lay down a top layer of gravel.
Still unsure about what soil is supposed to have in overall nutrients? Glance over our article on NPK fertilization
We discussed how water could affect the nutrients that your plant receives, but what about light? Well, consider being in a pool. If you were to put your hand underneath the water, you’d notice that light passes through it in a different way.
For this reason, we must carefully consider the light requirements involved with an underwater plant. Members of Echinodorous require plenty of light to ensure that they have those needs met.
They can flourish under low light conditions, but healthier individuals tend to receive anywhere between ten and twelve hours a day.
This sun exposure can be anywhere from moderate to heavy in terms of overall strength and intensity for the best results.
Other than nutrients, lighting tends to be a vital aspect for any underwater flora, such as the Amazon Sword plant. It does not need to be natural lighting. Lots of freshwater aquariums will have 2 watts for every gallon. This would be ideal!
When we refer to “watering”, we obviously aren’t talking about the water that you’ll need to add every few days to your plant. Submerged individuals have different types of liquid requirements compared to their terrestrial counterparts.
The aspects you’ll want to look at more closely are the pH and degree of General Harshness in the water, or the dH. There is metal-electrode technology that can give you these measurements if you don’t want to go through the process of taking it yourself.
The overall pH level of your tank should be anywhere between 6.5 and 7.5, while the dH needs to be held from 8 to fifteen degrees.
Alkalinity should also be tended to, reaching between 3 and 8 dKH. These variables will depend on the overall size of the aquarium as well as the temperature and lighting.
Given the name, you might deduce that these floras don’t take well to cold water. This assumption would be correct! The Amazon Sword plant is native to the areas along central United States and extends down to Argentina.
Water tends to be warm in those regions. The temperature of the water needs to not only meet the requirements of your plant, but also the fish that you keep in that specific tank.
Most freshwater fish can handle a range that is slightly elevated, but always do your research first.
Amazon Sword plants thrive when placed in water that ranges around 22 to 27 degrees Celsius, or 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
Humidity isn’t really an issue for the Amazon Sword plant since they live in water. Instead, refer to the section about the water needs. These requirements will include alkalinity pH levels, and degrees of harshness, and temperature.
As mentioned earlier on, aquatic plants need to have a good amount of nutrients since the water will dilute anything that they naturally gain from the light, artificial or natural. Pond plants are a great example of this.
They do better when given additional supplements through fertilizer or food. But, how does one go about doing so? With a regular houseplant that’s kept in a pot, you can simply add a liquid fertilizer to the soil.
You may be surprised to find that you can still use pellets. There are certain plant foods that are designed for aquatic plants, either submerged or completely underwater. You should expect to add these pellets once a month.
There are three types of methods involved in the process of propagation. Asexual propagation, where the plants do most of the work happens with what are known as “runners” or “slips”.
They grow from the very bottom of the plant and eventually anchor themselves into the bottom of the provided substrate. The second process is propagation through seedlings.
This can be a bit more time consuming and requires much more involvement. The most commonly used practice is a form of artificial propagation referred to as cuttings.
If taking this route, you will have to be a bit more hands-on, though the results are worth it. We’ll go more in depth about this technique later on in the article for those who have never propagated their aquatic plant.
You may wonder how much space that these plants take up. With a tank, you really don’t have that much room to work with. Fortunately, these Echinodorous members aren’t too space consuming.
Certain species are known to be bigger than others. The majority of these individuals grow to become anywhere between 18 and 20 inches in height.
The favorable aspect about these plants is that they aren’t known for growing to be too wide. With palms, you have to worry about them encroaching on the space of the room since they have wide leaves.
Amazon Sword plants tend to be around 12 inches on average. This is why they are ranked as one of the top plants to accommodate a tank habitat, specifically for freshwater aquariums.
Even if you have a 30-gallon habitat, you can use these individuals to add a pop of vibrant green to the mix!
Repotting an aquatic plant depends entirely on how they are kept. Pond plants, for instance, require frequent transfers in order to maintain their overall health.
Amazon Sword plants do not have this problem since they are kept under the water at all times. Whenever you change the tank contents, you’ll be tending to your Amazon Sword plant. This, in itself, will be considered as repotting.
PRUNING YOUR AMAZON SWORD PLANT CORRECTLY
This may seem like a daunting task. How do you even go about pruning plants that are completely underwater? Taking back some dying or dead foliage is actually key in making sure that your Amazon Sword plant stays healthy and happy.
These plants display that striking green hue. It’s one of the reasons why people are drawn to them in the first place. But, they can’t maintain this display without being cared for.
These aquatic plants grow at a somewhat quick rate, especially when given an adequate amount of nutrients. The stem plants will needed to be trimmed more often.
You’ll want to only the top two inches of the plant’s foliage for the best results. The best way to go about doing this is to trim the plants when you have to do a full change of the water.
Fortunately, the Amazon Sword plant does not need as much overall maintenance as other aquatic plants.
AMAZON SWORD PLANT PROPAGATION
We had briefly mentioned a few facts about propagating your own aquatic plant earlier. Do you remember the different methods that you have at your disposal?
One of them is through seedlings, though this process takes quite a bit of care and attention. You could let the plant do most of the work in a different form of propagation called “runners” or “slips” where your flora will do most of the work.
But, yet again, this takes a good amount of time. The method we suggest is stem cuttings. It may seem daunting, especially for an underwater plant, but it really isn’t all that challenging.
The following section is devoted to the steps involved with stem cutting.
PROPAGATION THROUGH STEM CUTTINGS
- Select a plant that is fully grown and one that produces a good amount of fresh foliage to ensure that it is healthy and suitable for propagation.
- Wait long enough so that the parent plant has grown a few runners, or younger stems. They should be at least three inches in length before you continue on to the next step.
- Using clean scissors, remove the newer stem towards the bottom of the base. The individuals that you choose should always be among the older foliage.
- Look at the platelets on these stem cuttings and do not burry them in the substrate until they have developed a first set of roots.
- Once you’ve noticed roots that have begun to take form, you can bury them into the substrate and treat them as if the individual is a mature adult.
AMAZON SWORD PLANT INVADERS: PESTS AND DISEASES
You may think that aquatic plants are immune to the thwart of pests and diseases since they live their lives almost entirely after water. Well, unfortunately, this is not the case.
Sure, some plants are exceptional at avoiding these bugs, but not the Amazon Sword plant.
As far as insects go, aphids tend to be a common problem.
The Amazon Sword plant, although filled with lots of nutrients, is not immune to such attacks! They will keep near the top of the plant and start to wreak havoc on the leaves.
The quick fix for any aphids that linger on the top of your aquatic plant is to ensure that there are other animals that might eat them. You should also keep an eye out for an insect that will
It’s more common to experience a deficiency in your plant, but there are a few diseases that you should be aware of. The most common disease that can occur is root rot.
This may seem a bit silly since the plant itself is submerged in water, but that’s not necessarily related.
The roots should be buried deep enough without the crown, or typical parts held above the substrate.
Burying the crown will make the Amazon Sword plant rot at a quicker rate.
AMAZON SWORD PLANT PROBLEMS
We’ve discussed the various bugs and infestations that may attack your freshwater tank flora, but what about other problems that may arise? Taking care of plants can be tricky if you don’t know how to identify the early signs of deficiency.
PROBLEM #1: TRANSPARENT FOLIAGE
Amazon Sword plants are supposed to have bright green leaves. Something may happen where they start to become see through.
This is referred to as “melting”. The reasons behind this generally are due to not enough carbon dioxide, or an excessive amount of light.
We suggest that you try adjusting the light first.
Remember that they don’t need too much light on a daily basis, only 2 Watts for each gallon. If this doesn’t work, add CO2 supplements into the water.
PROBLEM #2: YELLOWING LEAVES
The shift in hue to a yellowish color is a clear sign that your plant is experiencing a deficiency in something, most likely iron, nitrogen, or potassium.
You can actually determine which nutrient is needed based on the age of the individual.
Younger growth that yellows needs more iron.
Plants that tend to be a bit more mature are deficient in nitrogen or potassium. There is a liquid form of fertilization that can add these nutrients directly into the water for absorption.
PROBLEM SIGN #3: WRINKLING OF FOLIAGE
Both wrinkling and curling of the leaves is not a good sign. Typically, this is a clear sign that your plant needs more potassium.
The solution is quite simple! All you have to do is treat the plant close to the roots so that your Amazon Sword gets enough of the nutrient.
PROBLEM #4: HOLE-FILLED LEAVES
There are two reasons behind why your foliage may have fenestrated, or hole-covered leaves. The first could be simply that the fish are munching on the plant itself. A lack of potassium can also cause this issue.
Try seeing if it’s a potassium level issue by adding plant food. Attempting to stop your plants from being eaten by the fish is a little more difficult.
There are a few home remedies for this problem, though not all of them tend to work. Our recommendation? Simply plant enough Amazon Sword plants to replenish the ones that have to remove.
5 TIPS AND TRICKS TO A HEALTHY AMAZON SWORD PLANT
The Amazon Sword plant is known for being a great beginner plant, especially those who are just getting their feet wet – pun intended – for those aquatic habitats. If you’re new to this form of care, look at our top five takeaways!
- Pick a substrate that is nutrient rich, especially when it comes to iron!
- The water’s pH should be anywhere between 6.5 and 7.5 for the best results.
- They need a warmer climate, averaging around 22 to 27 degrees Celsius (or 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit).
- They can survive with lower levels of light, but opt for a full 8 hours.
- Adding fertilizer will limit the issues that arise from nutrient deficiencies.
If you want to know more about the general care involved in taking care of a submerged plant, regardless of species, read our article on aquatic plants for beginners.
AMAZON SWORD PLANT FAQ
What are Amazon Sword plant runners and what do they do?
This term is used to describe the new growth that looks like a stem. It can be used to propagate your Amazon Sword plant.
How many Amazon Sword plant varieties are there?
Echinodorus, or Amazon Sword plants come in a number of shapes and sizes. The majority of them still share those vibrant, green leaves. As of right now, there are over 30 species of this flora to choose from!
Can you plant an Amazon Sword plant in gravel?
Truthfully, you can grow these individuals in gravel, but it isn’t necessarily the best option. Those roots like being able to spread out in a loose type of soil.