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How to grow Bacopa caroliniana/Colorata & B. Salzmannii

August 04, 2021 3 min read

How to grow Bacopa caroliniana/Colorata & B. Salzmannii

Bacopa caroliniana is green with bronze color tones, beside Bacopa salzmannii - this tank showcases a particularly red varietal of Bacopa salzmannii. The other variant that is popular on the market is Bacopa sp. colorata; which is suspected to be a more reddish varietal of Bacopa caroliniana - it has similar growth requirements but takes stronger lighting to show its full colors.

Bacopa sp colorata beside Bacopa salzmannii 'SG variant'. Bacopa colorata has significantly more colorful leaves compared to Bacopa caroliniana under similar growth conditions. 

Bacopa colorata's flesh-tones are a good contrast to red and green plants in the aquarium.


Bacopa caroliniana

Bacopa caroliniana is a long staple in the hobby. It's most identifiable characteristic is that it has a lemon scent when its leaves are crushed. In horticulture shops, it is often sold as Lemon Bacopa. Bacopa caroliniana originates from North America and can be found in the wild in places such as the Everglades in Florida, growing even in brackish water. It is a medium sized stem plant that is green in lower light tanks, but takes on attractive bronze to pink hues under higher light levels. Bacopa caroliniana works well in midground groups.

Bacopa caroliniana is a very hardy and easy to grow plant, but likes a lot of light, especially if one intends to bring out its bronze color tones. It can be grown in soft or harder water, and can be grown without CO2 injection. CO2 injection gives larger, more robust plants with better coloration. It should be planted in a bright area of the tank and not shaded as it requires quite a bit of light to grow well. It has a moderate growth speed, which makes it an attractive option for a stem plant as it does not have to be trimmed as often. 

Bacopa caroliniana gains attractive bronze/pink under higher light levels and sufficient fertilization. 

Key Success Factors

  • Plant in well lit area
  • Overall tank stability avoids algae issues
  • CO2 injection is optional but helps in coloration
  • Sufficient nutrients help coloration - small sizing and overly curled leaves can indicate nutrient insufficiency 
  • Higher light levels give better coloration

Pruning and propagation

Bacopa caroliniana naturally form side shoots as the plants grow. When they reach the length of around 2 to 3 inches, you can cut them off close to the stem of the mother plant and plant them as new plants elsewhere.

You can also cut off the top 2 to 3 inches of taller plants and replant them as separate plants. The remaining rooted portion will sprout new shoots.

Bacopa salzmannii

Bacopa salzmannii originates from Central and South America where it can be found on marsh land and the edges of rivers and ponds. It is smaller sized (about half the size) compared to Bacopa caroliniana and it comes in a couple of varietals. Depending on the exact varietal, color can range from Green - with a tinge of purple to fully deep purple. The fully purple varietal is gaining popularity in the hobby in recent days, though it is still only traded among a small number of hobbyists and not commercially propagated in scale by farms. The greenish varietal that carries a tinge of purple is common and has been in the hobby a long time.

The more common Greenish varietal beside the deeper purple varietal. Grown under the same conditions and viewed through the same light - the contrast can be very significant. They almost look like different plants. The more Greenish varietals can get quite purplish leaves under high light levels and colored lighting. However, the purple varietal will look fully purplish even in more mediocre growth conditions.

The purple version offers great contrast to both red and green plants. Despite its great coloration, it is a relatively hardy plant. Stronger lighting, CO2 injection and sufficient all round fertilization gives it a brighter purple tone, right down to its stems. It does best in the midground. 

Compared to Bacopa caroliniana which is not picky on water hardness, Bacopa salzmannii seems to prefer softer water. Pruning and propagation is similar to Bacopa caroliniana.

 Key Success Factors

  • Plant in well lit area
  • Overall tank stability avoids algae issues
  • CO2 injection should be used for more optimal coloration
  • All round fertilization and higher light levels give brighter coloration (deeply curled leaves can hint at fertilization issues)
  • Not too alkaline water (<10dKH)

Pruning and propagation

Similar to Bacopa caroliniana, cut above an internode and plant the top 2 - 3 inch portion of the plant. This plant also develop side shoots naturally over time. After a few trimming cycles, the bottom portions will usually deteriorate while the new shoots would have formed roots at the internodes of the old stem. In such cases, the fresh tops should be replanted, and the older bottom portion uprooted and discarded.