Aquatic Plant of the Month
Synonyms: (erroneously) Eusteralis stellata
Aquarium Placement: Background, midground in very large aquariums
Description: Pogostemon stellatus is a stunning stem plant originating from Southeast Asia and Australia. There are several varieties of this plant currently in the hobby, differentiated mostly by leaf size. A narrow-leaved variety first emerged in the hobby about 10 or 12 years ago, which was initially sold and traded under the erroneous name of Eusteralis stellata. A broad-leaf variety from New Guinea can grow quite large if given the room, with a leaf span of 8 inches or more across. Newest in the hobby is the needle-leaf variety, with the finest leaves of all. When provided with proper conditions, the stems of P. stellatus can develop a stunning reddish to purplish coloration, adding a vibrant touch to a planted aquarium layout.
The proper growth of P. stellatus does require some attention by the aquatic horticulturist. Medium to high light is necessary, as leaves in the lower portions will shed without proper lighting or if they become shaded. With higher light, carbon dioxide supplementation is a must, as well as proper macronutrient and micronutrient supplementation. Without these, the tips of growing stems tend to stunt, growing small, curled leaves that portend the cessation of further growth.
P. stellatus “broad leaf” can sometimes be confused with the similar whorled variant of Limnophila aromatica. These can be distinguished by the purple nodes (where the leaves emerge from the stem) on P. stellatus.
Pogostemon stellatus has been readily available over the recent years, with aquatic nurseries in Florida providing emersed-grown pots of the regular and broad-leaf varieties to shops around the country. The needle-leaf variety can only be obtained from other hobbyists at the moment.
Use in Aquascaping: P. stellatus can be used as an interesting background focal point in large aquariums. With its stunning coloration and large leaves, the broad-leaf variety can provide a beautiful contrast to green stem plants in aquariums of 55 gallons or larger. The regular and needle-leaf varieties can be used as background plants in medium to large aquariums and can be trimmed into a bush for midground accents in large aquariums.
Propagation: Once growth is well established, P. stellatus is simple to propagate. The tops of stems may be trimmed, promoting the growth of side shoots from stems left in the aquarium. Alternatively, tops may be trimmed and the lower stems removed, replaced with the newly cut stems. If the former method is employed, removing a few of the side shoots on each stem will enable the remaining ones to grow larger.