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Ludwigia Glandulosa Ultimate Care Guide | 11 Important Facts|

Ludwigia glandulosa is a colorful and slow-growing plant that is often rare but relatively demanding.

Ludwigia glandulosa, or “Red Star Ludwigia” as it’s sometimes called, is an excellent choice for a more advanced planted aquarium because of its intense coloration and special care needs.

Although it is a captivating plant, this is not your regular beginner-friendly plant that can grow easily.

This article will cover the basics of Ludwigia Glandulosa care – including tank requirements, trimming instructions, dangers to watch out for, and more!

Ludwigia Glandulosa

What is Ludwigia Glandulosa?

Ludwigia glandulosa (cylindricfruit primrose willow) is a magnificent red stem plant that is native to Southeastern North America.

They prefer natural ecosystems like marshes, ponds, and even ditches with deep and standing water. It is vulnerable in Indiana and endangered in Maryland.

It grows slowly compared to other aquatic plants and they have long stem-like leaves that are red in color. They can grow up to 12 inches tall but is usually much smaller than this.

Ludwigia glandulosa care is so difficult compared to other plants because it requires intense lighting, a relatively cool environment with medium water movement, and a good supply of CO2 and nutrients.

It is often sold as Ludwigia perennis. But Ludwigia perennis is a different kind of plant found in Asia, Africa, and Australia.

How to identify?

They have oval leaves that are red to brown in color. The color tends to turn greener when it gets insufficient light.

It is an amphibious stem plant that grows upright with dense, narrow, lanceolate leaves. It branches a little and takes considerably more time to grow.

Is Ludwigia Glandulosa easy to grow

It is one of the most challenging plants to grow. It requires intense lighting, a fairly cool environment with medium water movement, and an excellent supply of CO² and nutrients to flourish in your aquarium.

Therefore, only an experienced aquarist can grow this plant to its full potential.

Distribution & Natural Habitat

They are found in marshland, ditches along the road, and wetland areas throughout most of North America’s southern states.

It is most commonly found in Florida, Georgia, and Texas.

They are native to the United States but have been introduced into other countries as ornamental plants for ponds or aquariums. It is a vulnerable species in Indiana and endangered in Maryland.

One look care guide

Scientific nameLudwígia glandulósa Walter
Common nameCylindricfruit Primrose-Willow,
Ludwigia peruensis
Care levelDifficult
Native toSoutheastern North America
Type Freshwater amphibious plant
Color Red
Preferred temperature20 to 28 degrees Celsius
Other water parameters pH- 6- 7
Hardness- 2 – 10°
dKH, 0 – 30°dG
HNO3 (Nitrates) – 5 to 25 ppm
PO4 (Phosphate) – 0.5 to 3 ppm
Size18 inches
Growth rateslow
Placement Background, midground
Recommended tank matesMost fish
shrimp and snails.
No plant-eating or uprooting fish
Can grow emersed?yes
PropagationSeeds, cuttings

Aquarium Care requirements for ludwigia species

Because they are not aquatic plants initially, they do not prefer submerged conditions. However, it can grow both submerged and emerged.

It does well in aquariums that mimic their natural habitats and requires only moderate lighting and water flow to do fine.

But, to get magnificent colors in this plant, you have to step further and provide extra care.

Sufficient Light

Lighting is one of the essential factors in the color morph of this plant.

While this plant can grow fine in moderate to low light conditions, the color of this plant turns greener with insufficient light.

If you want this plant to glow with red to purple hues, it needs higher lighting. It should be placed in the middle or top of your aquarium to get sufficient light for color change.

Fertilizers & Substrates 

The plant requires fertilizers. They grow stronger and more colorful when they are given iron fertilizers.

You can use either liquid or tablet fertilizer that contains an abundance of iron (Fe).

Nitrogen (N) and Phospate (PO4) are also crucial for these plants to promote healthy growth.

If you want them to look very lush, consider providing extra nitrogen and phosphate.

They can be planted in a substrate containing many nutrients such as laterite, mud, or any other organic soil mix for better growth and coloration.

Can Ludwigia Glandulosa grow on sand

It can not grow on sand because it needs plenty of nutrients to grow.

They grow stronger and healthier when they are planted on a nutrient-rich substrate.

Water quality 

It is a freshwater plant that requires an aquarium within the temperature range of 20 to 28 degrees Celsius.

It prefers water with a pH of six and seven but can adapt to slightly lower or higher pH values. The carbonate hardness should be about 2 – 10°dKH, and the general hardness should be about 0 – 30°dGH.

Other nutrient requirements are as below.

  • NO3 (Nitrates) – 5 to 25 ppm
  • PO4 (Phosphate) – 0.5 to 3 ppm


Since this plant naturally grows in slightly colder temperatures, It requires a temperature range of 20 to 28 degrees Celsius.


You can grow this plant both submerged and emerge, but the way it grows changes accordingly.

It develops straight to the water surface without side stems when cultivated underwater.·

When submerged, it usually will not divide into branches. But, if you prefer a branched plant, you have to snip the stem’s tips.

They would grow to their full potential if grown emerged. You can grow it as a bonsai plant in vivariums, terrariums, mini jardines, viquariums, paludariums, aquascape waterfall, plant nurseries, and laboratories.

If the plant is given the required nutrients, CO2, and light, it will flourish when it emerges.

Can you float them? 

You can not float them because this plant requires a nutrient-rich substrate to thrive.

How to keep Ludwigia Glandulosa alive

It grows slowly but that is worth your time, money, and effort because of its intense coloration.

To keep this plant alive, you have to care for it. Otherwise, you will not get the beautiful red coloration, and in worst cases, the plant will die soon.

How fast these grow

Ludwigia glandulosa is a stem plant that grows relatively slow. Generally, it grows at a rate of 0.25-0.75 inches per week.

It usually grows straight to the water surface. But, Ludwigia glandulosa can grow up to 12 inches tall within about a month if provided necessary nutrients, CO², lighted conditions, and proper care.

How to trim Ludwigia Glandulosa 

Trimming is necessary to get a bushy shape. Ludwigia glandulosa can grow up to 18 inches long without trimming, but it doesn’t get a bushy appearance when grow submerged.

Therefore we have to cut the stem’s tips so that it divides into several branches from the tips.

You can use regular scissors for this. However, specially designed “Wave cutters” or “Spring scissors” are the best types of scissors for this job.

Does Ludwigia Glandulosa need CO2?

It requires CO2 to grow. Ludwigia glandulosa can not grow well in an aquarium without CO².

It takes more time to grow and loses its red coloration if you don’t inject CO2. This is one of the main reasons it is considered hard to grow this plant.

You can inject the carbon dioxide through an air stone connected to an aquarium pump or through a paintball.

How do you propagate Ludwigia Glandulosa?

To propagate them, you can trim Ludwigia glandulosa‘s side stems. It will take some time to propagate by this method.

You should prepare about one or two months before propagating Ludwigia Glandulosa in an aquarium.

After cutting stems of this plant, you should place them in the substrate with a weight on top to hold the stems.

After several days, the roots will begin to develop on the cuttings. Now you can propagate them anywhere you want. 

This plant also propagates naturally with seedings. However, this is rare in the aquarium setting.

Can Ludwigia Glandulosa grow out of water?

They can grow out of water. However, the plant needs a continuous water flow to the roots to retain its moisture.

Glandulosa ludwigia can grow faster when it grows out of water. But, they will die if the roots are not completely submerged in water because this plant requires a lot of nutrients to maintain itself.

Without nutrient content in the substrate, Ludwigia Glandulosa won’t survive for a long time.

Ludwigia Glandulosa Tankmates 

Since these plants grow slowly, they need extra care, you will have to choose tankmates carefully.


Ludwigia species will do fine with most fish that do not uproot and/or eat plants.

However, the fish need to be on the hardy side because you will have to feed the plant with fertilizers that may not be safe for some fish species.

They are good tankmate for most fish because it only releases a small amount of toxins to the water column.

It’s even possible that Ludwigia Glandulosa will absorb the toxins released by other plants.

Ludwigia glandulosa does not grow fast enough to be a nuisance in an aquarium because it takes months for Ludwigia glandulosa‘s plant body to develop into thick stems fully.


Some invasive plants like Hornwort, Water Wisteria, and Java moss will not be a good choice with this plant because those plants tend to absorb most of the nutrients from the water.

If you grow fast-growing plants with them, this plant will suffocate without enough nutrients, and CO2, leading the plant to die eventually.

Other organisms

You can house most snails and shrimps with Ludwigia Glandulosa, as they don’t do much harm to aquarium plants.

Diseases and Common Problems, treatment 

Plant leaves turn green

Ludwigia glandulosa is popular as a red aquarium plant. But this plant often turns green when it receives insufficient light and nutrients.

They tends to lose its coloration if you don’t inject CO² or don’t have enough fertilizers in the water column.

Treatment- Feed the plant with fertilizers (especially iron) and CO2. Most importantly, expose the plant to bright light with a Color Spectrum of between 5200 to 6500K.

Algae Blooms in the Tank

This plant also has a problem with algae because Ludwigia glandulosa is very slow-growing, and it will not cover up other plants’ waste completely due to this reason.

Further, as you feed the plant with fertilizers and light, it also helps algae to grow in the aquarium.

Solution- Scrape algae from tank surfaces regularly and introduce algae-eating fish and invertebrates to the tank.

Lower leaves of the plant shed off

When the plant suffocates without enough nutrients and light for a longer period of time, it will start to shed the lower leaves.

This is a sign of poor health, and eventually, the plant will die.

Treatment- In this case, it might be too late for you to save the plant. But, you can try providing iron-based fertilizers, CO2, and bright light. By doing this regularly, hopefully, you can turn your plant back to life.

The plant has narrow leaves

The natural shape of the leaves of this plant is rounded leaves. But, when you grow this plant submerged, the plant will develop narrow leaves.

Actually, this is not a disease, but the way this plant adapts to living conditions. If Ludwigia glandulosa has been grown out of the water, the plant will develop rounded leaves and vice versa.

Treatment- There is no effective treatment for this symptom because it’s not a disease but how they adapts itself to its environment.

Just try growing Ludwigia glandulosa in the desired atmosphere to regain its original shape.

How to plant Ludwigia glandulosa 

You cannot attach them to rocks, driftwood, plastic, or fabric. This plant requires soil/substrate to thrive.

Otherwise, they will not grow roots, and they may die after a while.

To attach this plant to the substrate, just put Ludwigia glandulosa’s stem onto the substrate and secure it with a weight like a piece of rock.

After a few weeks, they will grow roots into the substrate naturally.

The price of Ludwigia glandulosa 

You can buy this plant from aquarium shops in your area or online for a price of about three to four dollars for about four stems.

they can also be propagated by their cuttings. This plant is usually cheaper than other aquarium plants that you need to buy for your tank.

Wrapping Up

Ludwigia glandulosa (cylindricfruit primrose willow) is not a beginner-friendly plant and needs expert level care to get striking colors.

It needs fertilizers, CO2, and bright lighting to thrive with bright red morph. However, it is worth every time, money, and effort you spend because of the beauty they bring into the aquarium.

Credit to: AQUA PLANET 128
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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.