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    Oliver Knott: preparing aquatic plants

    prepping up

    Aquatic plants are available in many different cultivated forms. In this useful video Oliver Knott explains how to unpack potted- and InVitro plants and properly prepare them for planting them into the aquarium. He also covers different plant groups such as stem plants, epiphytes or rosette plants like Cryptocoryne balansae.

    Preparing potted plants

    First of all Oliver Knott demonstrates by means of a Cryptocoryne, how to free an aquatic plant from its plastic pot and the rockwool enclosing its roots. At first roots growing out of the pot are removed with suitable plant scissors (in the video Oliver uses the Aqua Rebell Short Scissors Curved). The plant is then freed from the pot and rockwool which can be removed in big pieces by hand. Afterwards the rest of the remaining pieces can be shaken off while submerging the plant in water - as demonstrated in the video.

    The special case of stem plants

    Aquatic stem plants, such as the classic background plants (Rotala, Ludwigia etc.) can be prepared especially easy. There is no need to painstakingly remove the pot, rockwool, lead tape or clay ring and just cut off the plant directly above the pot or clay ring.

    cutting stem plants

    Only the cut-off upper part of the plant is used for planting the aquarium or aquascape. After a few weeks, the stems have sprouted new roots which anchor the plants securely into the substrate.


    In aquaristics epiphytes are mostly ferns, Anubia und Bucephalandra. These plants have a very pronounced stem system, the rhizome. This should not be damaged during preparation or planting by e.G. bruising or similar. Also those plants shouldn’t be put into the substrate but placed onto driftwood or stones. Some tipps for fixing those plants can be found in the article "planting aquarium plants".

    fixing an epiphyte

    For removing the pot and rockwool, proceed as described in above paragraph “Preparing potted plants”.

    In Vitro plants

    In Vitro plant

    In Vitro plants are cultivated under sterile conditions in small beakers. These contain a nutrient solution that, depending on the manufacturer, may be liquid or slightly firmer. This nutrient medium can be easily removed under running water or in a water bath.

    Rinsing an InVitro-plant under running water

    If any residue remains on the plants: the gel is harmless for the aquarium.
    To better plant them with tweezers, bigger portions can be split up into several smaller ones.

    Planting HCC with tweezers

    You can find more tips for "preparing aquatic plants" in the thematically relevant article in our Aquascaping Wiki. We have compiled an article worth reading, covering the differences in cultivation types as well, which offers a lot more background information.