Say hello to Pogostemon stellatus
Pogostemon stellatus is one great addition to a colourful planted tank. Its thin, elongated, bright green leaves with a purple underside will more than hold its own in the company of such stunning stem plants like Ludwigia ‘Pantanal' and Rotala Macrandra. It is a medium grower and would happily show its colours when all requirements are met. Out of all stem plants, though, this would be one of a few that will immediately show that it is not happy in the tank. The top will start to change colour, and the leaves will begin to wither in a few days once one of its needs is lacking.
This species originated from Australia and Asia. You can find many variants in the market. Perhaps the most popular would be Pogostemon' Octopus', which, if described, would be a smaller, more compact version of this species.
Pogostemon stellatus requires intense lighting for it to thrive in the tank. This plant will show compact and robust growth if provided with it. Full spectrum lighting is preferred, although all plants should be able to photosynthesize with 6500-7200 k colour temperature. This species refuses to show its beautiful colouration without that hi-lighting. It will display pale, leggy growth without it.
CO2 is a must for Pogostemon stellatus. Like most stem plants that need hi-light to thrive in the tank, this species also requires moderate to heavy CO2 supplementation. Hi-light would mean faster photosynthesis for plants; therefore, they would need more CO2. Growth is much quicker, and the new leaves are more vigorous with more CO2. All plants benefit from CO2 supplementation in the tank, although hi-light or hi-tech plants need it more than most. It becomes essential to their survival in an enclosed set-up like an aquarium.
Place Pogostemon Stellatus in softer water with TDS ranging from 80 to 150. Not like other more sensitive stem plants, though, this plant can tolerate more challenging water. Providing a rich substrate is advisable, although this species should have no problem taking its nutrients from the water column. They benefit significantly from regular dosing of macro and micronutrients. This plant will show pale growth if there is a lack of micronutrients. This plant is often placed in tanks as it is a good indicator that the tank lacks nutrients. Follow a strict dosing schedule for both macro and micro fertilizers.
Keep the water temperature at 22-28 degrees Celsius, a good level for CO2 to dissolve in water and for the plant to grow properly.
Planting and Position in the tank
Pogostemon stellatus can be used as a background plant due to its size but would generally be considered an accent plant. It will capture the viewer's attention immediately because of its unique form and purple underside. It is one of the more popular plants used in Dutch-style aquascaping. Given its size, this plant would do well in larger tanks.
Trimming and Maintenance
Trimming this species, especially in Dutch tanks, involves cutting the stem in half, replanting to the top portion and removing the lower part from the substrate. The healthier top half should not have any problem continuing to grow and shooting out new roots. Do not trim like a hedge or shrub. We must give care not to damage individual leaves when cutting.