Rotala macrandra 'Narrow Leaf'

Aquarium suitability: yes
Usage: Accent (red), Background, Midground, Street (Dutch style)
Difficulty: medium
Growth: fast
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Habit, plant type:

  • stem
Botanical name [?]: Rotála macrándra Koehne

Major group (unranked): Seed plants: Flowering plants (Angiosperms)
Order: Myrtales
Family: Lythraceae
Genus: Rotala


Rotala macrandra 'Narrow Leaf' is also known under the trade names Rotala "Magenta" or Rotala macrandra "Florida". This plant is a mutation of Rotala macrandra. Its habit not as stable as the original form, but tends to grow lateral shoots with broad leaved. In the USA, it is one of the most frequently-found Rotala varieties in trade and is brought onto the market by Florida Aquatic Nurseries, among others.

This form of R. macrandra has very narrow leaves and is a little less picky than the wider-leaves standard form of R. macrandra regarding growth conditions. However, it has almost identical requirements: medium to high light intensity (under too weak light its lower stems tend to blacken and die off), CO2 injection and a carefully controlled nutrient supply in the water: nitrate at 5 to 15 mg/l, phosphate at 1 to 2 mg/l. Like most red Rotala species, R. macrandra 'Narrow Leaf' tends to develop a very compact growth habit and a most intensive red when phospate is relatively high. An iron deficiency leads to a pale colour, and the plant may even die off if the tankkeeper doesn't address the problem by adding an iron fertiliser.

Rotala macrandra 'Narrow Leaf' has an upright growth habit and throws many lateral shoots. If shoots get too long, they grow along the water surface and sprout lateral shoots on every node.
When cutting the plant back it is recommendable to re-plant the cut-off upper part of the stem and to remove the lower part from the tank, or leave the lower cut-off part, which will form a great number of lateral shoots then. R. macrandra 'Narrow Leaf' is propagated like almost any other stem plant: by top or lateral shoot cuttings that are replanted in the substrate and grow new roots rather soon.

This narrow-leaved red-coloured stem plant has a lot of potential for aquascape layouts. Its upright growth makes it better suited for many background plantings than Ludwigia arcuata, which possesses a comparable texture but does not have the strict upright growth habit of R. macrandra 'Narrow Leaf'. It is especially recommendable for setting a bright red but not overwhelming colour contrast in small aquarium layouts.

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