Cardinal Plant - More than one kind?

Discussion in 'Aquarium Plants' started by MotherMajesty:), Nov 28, 2012.

  1. MotherMajesty:)Valued MemberMember

    I recently purchased 4 cardinal plants for my tank. They're got dark green leaves that have purple undersides. The little stick in the plants said "Lobelia cardinalis" and also that it was a "true aquatic" plant.

    I've seen some posts here & on other sites where people have had success with them (though they may eventually grow all green and lose the purple color), while others had them die off because they're NOT a true aquatic. I know there is another plant sold in the aquarium trade that's sometimes known as the cardinal plant, but its scientific name is different - Hemigraphis something-or-other.

    My plants seem to be doing well so far (it's only been about a month since I planted them) and are putting out new growth.

    Can anyone give me the correct info on this particular type of "cardinal plant?" I'd appreciate any advice. Thanks!
  2. jetajockeyFishlore VIPMember

    The wiki has a bunch of good info. Looks like a bog plant, which many of our aquatic plants are. It looks like it can transition to aquatic form (at least according to the pictures i've seen), but as to how well it will do that is anyone's guess. I'd estimate that 90%+ of the plants we keep can be grown above water in bog type conditions.

    This is a species that I have not kept or seen in the wild.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 13, 2018
  3. MotherMajesty:)Valued MemberMember

    Thanks for the link! The pic in the link is a plant I've seen sold in garden stores as Cardinal Flower. I'll have to take a closer look and compare the foliage to the plants in my tank. I guess it will be an ongoing experiment to see how/if they acclimate. :)
  4. jetajockeyFishlore VIPMember

    One thing to keep in mind is that plants can have a very different appearance between their emersed (above water) and submerged growth. An example of this is marsilea minuta. When submerged it has short stems with a small single leaf on each one. Take the same plant and put it in a high humidity emersed environment and it sheds these and instead has very thin and tall stems with three and four leaf clovers on them.

    You could test this by taking a clipping of your plant, put it in a clear plastic container with about 1 1/2" of soil. Lay it flat against the soil and then sprinkle a little soil over it. Fill the container till it has about 1/2" of water in the bottom. Cover it with a clear lid or some saran wrap and then put it in a bright place. Don't put it in direct sunlight because it will get overheated. In a few days-weeks if all goes well you will see the emersed version of your plant.
  5. MotherMajesty:)Valued MemberMember

    Interesting! I didn't think about the difference in appearance according to how it's planted. Water wisteria does that somewhat, too. I'll have to try the experiment with the plant cutting in the soil. Thanks again for your help!
  6. kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    I think when people say it's not an aquatic plant, they're just misspeaking. I have a few of them, and it's true that the new leaves are bright green and not purple, but they're growing well in both tanks - high lights, dry ferts, and CO2; and low lights, liquid ferts, and no CO2.
  7. MotherMajesty:)Valued MemberMember

    I'll miss the purple, but I'll be happy enough for them to be green and alive. :) Thanks for the reply!
  8. GrdnDeliteNew MemberMember

    We had a lobelia cardinalis in the yard at one place we lived. It liked partial shade and ample water on land, and the blooms drew hummingbirds. The Sunset Western Garden Book characterizes them as bog plants, also. Ours was about 3-4 feet tall with equal spread, apparently self-perpetuating by new stems.

    I, too, am curious to know if these do well fully immersed for long periods of time, as I'd sure try to have one in my aquarium if so. For those who have them, approximately how long have you had them thriving under water? Do they bloom underwater?
  9. MotherMajesty:)Valued MemberMember

    Here are some pics of the cardinal plants so far. They still have purple on them, but the newer growth is green. There are 4 plants (small plastic pot-sized) around the little lantern thingy. As I mentioned, they've been in the tank about a month. They're in gravel only and I don't user fertilizers or special lights - not that I object to them - I'm just too lazy. As with my terrestrial gargen, it's survival of the fittest! ;)

    Plants 12-04-2012 001.jpgPlants 12-04-2012 004.jpg

    BTW, the plants on the left with the long leaves are cryptocorene wendetii - one bronze and one red if I remember correctly.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012