How to grow Bacopa caroliniana/Colorata & B. Salzmannii
August 28, 20233 min read
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. Grown with APT Complete and APT Jazz.
Bacopa colorata's flesh-tones are a good contrast to red and green plants in the aquarium.
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. While it is tolerant of hard water, it grows larger and more colorful in softer water. It can be grown without CO2 injection, but the plants will probably not develop good color. 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.
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
Higher PAR values required to bring out coloration (100 umols of PAR and above)
Bacopas have a preference for soft water even though hardy species such as Bacopa caroliniana can tolerate more alkaline water.
CO2 injection a necessity for good coloration in Bacopa colorata/caroliniana. Poor CO2 levels in a high tech tank results in poor coloration - this takes effect very quickly so it is a good indicator for a sudden drop in CO2 levels.
Sufficient nutrients help coloration - a lack of branching can be a sign of overly lean conditions.
If the plant gradually produces smaller and smaller top leaves, it can be an indicator that the water is too alkaline (KH is too high).
Pruning and propagation
Similar for 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.