Lobelia cardinalis ‘Wavy’ – fantastic smaller midground plant!

I picked up Lobelia cardinalis ‘Wavy’ to replace the echinodorus radicans that used to be in this foreground spot since the echinodorus was way too big!  The lobelia has been a brilliant addition.  The emersed growth form of this plant is loosely spaced darker green purple-tinged leaves with a wavy edging.  The plant adapted to submerged growth instantly in the aquarium.  Even a few days after planting (31-July-2020 image on the left) you can see new growth on the top.  The submerged growth form is bright green, densely packed, and with a more subtle waviness to it.  Happily, it doesn’t really seem to get overrun by green spot algae, which is appreciated.  I was actually thinking the lobelia would have a looser packing structure to it such that the fish would be able to swim/hide between the leaves, but this denser form is not without it’s charm.

Lobelia cardinalis ‘Wavy’ can get leggy

When fully grown, the Wavy tops out a little north of 17 cm high.  At that height the top of the plant is bushy with leaves but the lower quarter to third or so of the plant loses leaves and is mostly stems and adventitious roots.  For me, that was not the look I was going for with a plant at the front of the tank.  First I planted some Cryptocoryne lutea ‘Hobbit’ in front of the Wavy to cover up the rooty stems, but the Hobbit grows very slowly and didn’t really work for that purpose.  Running out of patience, I tried a hard prune and replant on the Wavy but wasn’t too happy with how that turned out either.  Ultimately I wound up replacing the Lobelia cardinalis ‘Wavy’ with Lobelia cardinalis ‘Dwarf’.  The Wavy is still a fine plant, but properly in the midground rather than the foreground.

Now that I reflect upon it, planting the Dwarf in front of the Wavy could have made for an interesting effect… something to think about for the future maybe.

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