Micranthemum umbrosum is native to most southeastern US states, from Texas to Florida and Virginia, where it grows in ponds, ditches and rivulets, in many areas it is emersed in summer and submersed in winter. It is also found in parts of Central and South America.
The Shade mudflower may be known in the hobby for quite some time, but has gained popularity recently since aquaria that meet this plant's requirements have become more common.
Sometimes M. umbrosum has difficulties adapting to a new environment, but once acclimated it is not a very demanding plant, apart from its hunger for light. A relatively strong lighting of at least 0.5 W/L is required for good growth. A lack of light results in the plant throwing off its lower leaves, or in holey leaves. At the same time, the stems become brittle and tends to break, so small pieces of the plant drift to the surface where light is more intensive. This plant may be cultivated without additional CO2 injection, however, its growth rate decreases significantly, and the leaves grow smaller.
If the basic requirements of M. umbrosum are met, it is really easy to propagate. Just cut off a main shoot somewhere on the stem and re-plant it in the substrate, it will grow new roots very quickly and form a stand-alone plant after a very short time. M. umbrosum tends to throw a large number of new lateral shoots, which develop in the leaf axils some centimetres below the top of a main shoot. If you cut back the plant you can further this development even more, and by frequent trimming you can create rather dense plant mats.
Emersed cultivation can further the growth rate even more, however, very moist air and a wet substrate are necessary for that. If these requirements are met, the plant grows quite profusely, and in its leaf axils, tiny white flowers develop, which look a lot like those of Hemianthus species.
M. umbrosum is usually planted in the middle- or background of an aquascape. Extremely strong lighting may induce it to grow rather flattish and creeping, then it can also be used in the foreground of the aquarium.
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