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Are you planning on starting a Dirt Ball composition and unsure about which plants to pick? In this article, we will talk about some of our favourite plants for emersed growing, which, after years of experience, we chose as ideal options even for aquascapers who are trying Wabikusa for the first time.

If you want to know more about converting water plants to emersed growth, take a look here.

Bacopa Caroliniana, Monnieri

Left: Bacopa Caroliniana, Middle: Dirt Ball planted mostly with Bacopa, Right: Bacopa Monnieri

These two species of Bacopa are our favourites, as well as our biggest recommendation. In their emersed forms, they boast quite thick, hardy leaves, which are smaller on the Monnieri, whereas the Caroliniana offers a darker stem and bigger, oval-shaped leaves. Both species bloom beautifully, the Monnieri with light-pink, and the Caroliniana with rich-blue blossoms. These plants grow relatively quickly and their stems can be replanted after pruning without any difficulties. (If you want to know how to trim and replant stem plants, take a look here). We offer them both in emersed form in our shop: Monnieri, Caroliniana.

Alternanthera Reineckii

Left: Alternanthera Reineckii and its variable colouring, Middle: Beautiful white blossoms, Right: Reineckii Mini used in a Dirt Ball

This species, whose cultivars offer from rich reds to pinkish hues to deep purple colours, is an interesting option for bringing a splash of colour into any Wabikusa layout. Its leaves are thin, on a slimmer stem. The plant boasts a very elegant look. If provided with enough light, it blooms with interesting, white blossoms, which often appear at the stalk of every leaf on a stem. It is available, in its emersed form, in our store here.

Ludwigia Repens, Palustris

Left: A red cultivar of Ludwigia sp., Middle: Ludwigia used in a Dirt Ball, Right: Ludwigia Repens

Ludwigia Repens and Palustris are a great choice for emersed growing. Their interesting leaves with a waxy shine and a wide variety of colour cultivars make it one of our favourites. Their style of growth leans more towards a creeping style, therefore we recommend planting it on the sides of Dirt Balls. Trimmed off stem cuttings can be easily replanted, they will root very quickly. You can get it, in its emersed form, in our store here.

Lysimachia Nummularia

Left, Right: Lysimachia Nummularia, Middle: A Dirt Ball planted with Nummularia

This species of Lysimachia is one of the less advanced and will reward aquascapers with beautifully rounded, fresh-green leaves. Its stems are thin, stem colour varies from brown to green. If provided with enough light, it will reward you with quick growth, trimmings can be easily replanted. You can get it in its emersed form here.

Rotala Rotundifolia

Left, Right: Rotala Rotundifolia, Middle: A Dirt Ball planted with Rotala

This Rotala, mainly for its interesting colouring, which ranges from rich green to red-orange hues (under good lighting conditions), is a favourite choice for growers. Its leaves are smaller and sit on a red stem. Trimmings root without problems if replanted properly. You can get emersed Rotala in our shop here.

Hydrocotyle Leucocephala, Verticillata

Left: Hydrocotyle Leucocephala, Middle: A layout featuring both Hydrocotyle species, Right: Hydrocotyle Verticallata

Both species of Hydrocotyle have a creeping stem and can attractively cover a Wabikusa layout with a carpet of circular leaves. The main differences between these plants lie in the length of stems and the size of their leaves. Leucocephala has bigger, thinner leaves on shorter stems, whereas Verticallata has smaller, hardier leaves on taller stems, which resemble little umbrellas. You can find out how to plant these in this article.

Hygrophila Pinnatifida

Left and right: Composition featuring Hygrophila, Middle: Hygrophila blossom

A plant with beautiful, lobed leaves which can boast light red hues under strong lighting. This plant can please with very decorative bluish-purple blossoms. It is a taller species of Hygrophila with a hardier, almost woody stem, which can be a dominant piece of Wabikusa layouts. It is necessary to say that this plant can take quite a long time to adapt compared to some others, but your patience will be rewarded.

Pogostemon Erectus

Left and middle: Pogostemon planted in a Dirt Ball, Right: A Pogostemon flower

This is a plant which, if given the right conditions, can offer stunning purple blossoms and boasts fine leaves resembling needles. It can beautifully elevate any Wabikusa layout. It is necessary to mention that growing this plant can be a bit tricky, as it is prone to drying/browning, if not given proper care. Successful growers will be rewarded not only with the aforementioned flowers, but also with fast growth and fresh green colour.

Juncus Repens

Left and right: Juncus planted in a Dirt Ball, Middle: Juncus freshly converted to its emersed form

If you are looking for a plant with an attractive, grass-like appearance, which will fill space in your Wabikusa, Juncus is a great choice. Its tall, slim leaves offer a unique contrast against other plants, it propagates well through replanted cuttings. Especially older plants tend to go a bit brownish in colour, which can bring an interesting, very natural appearance to your layout. 

In conclusion

It is necessary to repeat once again, that growing water plants, in their emersed form especially, can require some amount of patience. It doesn’t matter whether we talk about the conversion of plants into their emersed form, or caring for a Wabikusa layout, we cannot hurry these things. If your plants seem to have slow growth, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you chose your plants incorrectly, it can take some time for the plants to root or get acclimated to changes in conditions. We wish you lots of success, patience and joy with your projects!

© OPAquatics 2022 (Autor: Pavel Ottl)