Pogostemon helferi has taken the aquascaping world by storm with its funky, rosette-shaped appearance and wavy leaf shape. This small plant works great in the foreground of your aquascape and adds a lovely pop of green. It’s easy to grow, beginner-proof and can even be attached to driftwood or rock for some extra texture.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about Pogostemon helferi and growing Pogostemon helferi in your own aquarium!
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Pogostemon helferi can be planted in the substrate like regular aquarium plants. Although it looks good on its own, it will have a stronger visual impact if you surround it with other foreground plants like the smaller Glossostigma elatinoides.
Another option is to grow Pogostemon helferi on driftwood or porous rock. Attaching it (and other plants that grow on decorations, like Java fern) to a surface is not difficult at all. You can use fishing wire to keep it in place, but an even easier option is to just use quick-drying superglue or aquarium glue. This will keep the plant from floating away until it has anchored itself using its roots.
Because Pogostemon helferi can be a quick grower it appreciates plenty of nutrients. Popping a root tab underneath it while planting is an effective way to supply it with food for at least a few months and helps prevent leaf death.
Pogostemon helferi is generally considered a pretty easy plant to grow in the aquarium, although it does have a few requirements.
- Light. If you want your Pogostemon helferi to maintain its low, star shaped growth pattern be sure to provide plenty of light. This plant can survive and do well in lower light conditions, but unfortunately it won’t look as good. Like many other foreground plants lack of light can cause it to stretch towards the top of the tank and lose its shape.
- Nutrients. As discussed, Pogostemon helferi needs nutrients in abundance to grow well. Although it can be grown without added Co2 or nutrient dosing (liquid and/or tabs) you might find it growing slowly or even losing leaves.
- Propagation. The more, the better! Like many aquarium plants, Pogostemon helferi is very easy to propagate. Although healthy plants will already multiply by themselves by forming side shoots, you can create even more by snipping off the top of an adult plant. Simply replant the cutting and it should root and continue growing in no time. Another option is to break off side shoots and replant them in the desired location.
- Stretching. An issue with many plants is that they become etiolated in low-light conditions. The plant stretches towards the top of the tank in an attempt to get more light, which doesn’t really look all that nice with a rosette plant like Pogostemon helferi. Add an extra light or rethink your lighting cycle.
- Slow/no growth. Pogostemon helferi will slow its growth or even show no growth at all if nutrients are lacking. If you aren’t regularly dosing nutrients or at least using root tabs yet, consider doing so. Added Co2 can also be helpful.
- Melting. The dreaded melt is a problem that occurs with plants that have trouble adapting to new or fluctuating water conditions (another plant notorious for melting is Cryptocoryne). Some sources note that melt can be prevented by leaving a newly bought bundle of Pogostemon helferi intact until the plant has had time to acclimate. If it seems to be doing well you can eventually separate the stems and plant them in their intended locations.
Pogostemon helferi hasn’t been around in the aquarium hobby for too long but has quickly become quite popular. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding it and most local aquarium stores will probably carry it. It might be labeled with its common name ‘Downoi’, but its wavy leaf shape makes it easy to recognize. You can also buy Pogostemon helferi from various online sources: you can find it on Amazon here.
If you have any more questions about Pogostemon helferi or want to share your own experiences with this unique aquarium plant, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!
Cover photo: ???? Pogostemon helferi by rayyu