Ludwigia Repens Care Guide – Planting, Growing, and Propagation

Ludwigia Repens Care Guide – Planting, Growing, and Propagation

Ludwigia Repens Care Guide – Planting, Growing, and Propagation

Today, we will be talking about the Creeping primrose-willow, popularly known in the hobby by its binomial name – Ludwigia Repens.

Ludwigia Repens is unarguably one of the best aquatic plants for aquascaping due to its sturdy structure, vibrant red coloration, and ease of care.

Be rest assured that the success rate of Ludwigia Repens is very high, and it will do a good job highlighting the focal points, as well as creating an appealing outlook in the mid-ground and background of your tank.

Keep reading for more information on how you can grow and care for Ludwigia Repens in your home aquarium.

Quick Notes about Ludwigia Repens

Common Name Ludwigia Repens
Other Names Creeping primrose-willow
Scientific Name
Ludwigia Repens
Difficulty Easy 
Lighting Low to Medium
Optimal pH 6.0 – 8.0
Optimal GH Soft to hard
Optimal Temperature 20 – 28 °C (68 – 82 °F)
Substrate Nutrient-rich
Growth Form Stem
Growth Rate Fast
Placement in Tank
Mid-ground and background
Size Up to 50 cm (~20 inches) without trimming
Fertilizers 
Not needed to low
CO2 Not needed to low
Propagation Cut off the top shoots
Color
Green to reddish

Origin of Ludwigia Repens

Ludwigia Repens is a species of flowering plant in the family – Onagraceae, also known as Creeping Primrose-willow and Red Ludwigia.

It belongs to the genus Ludwigia which is a genus of about 82 species of aquatic plants native to Central and South America with a cosmopolitan distribution. This genus was named by renowned Swedish botanist and zoologist- Carl Linnaeus after Christian Gottlieb Ludwig (a German Botanist). Here is a brief rundown of its taxonomic hierarchy:

  • Kingdom: Plantae (The Plant Kingdom).
  • Phylum: Tracheophytes ( A large group of plants that have lignified tissues for conducting water and minerals within the plant).
  • Class: Angiosperms (The flowering plants; also known as Magnoliophyta, are the most diverse group of land plants with over 64 orders, 416 families, 13,000 known genera, and 300,000 species).
  • Order: Myrtales (An order of flowering plants).
  • Family: Onagraceae (A widespread family of flowering plants known as the willowherb family or evening primrose family. They include 650 species of herbs, shrubs, and trees in 17 genera).
  • Genus: Ludwigia (A genus of about 82 species of aquatic plants native to the Americas).
  • Species: Ludwigia Repens.

Habitat of Ludwigia Repens

This plant is native to the southern United States of America and Mexico. It is commonly found in the tropical waters of North and Central America. It is also distributed in Asia, Africa, and Australia where it grows abundantly in shallow waters of ditches, ponds, rivers, streams, and lakes.

Ludwigia Repens forms dense trailing or creeping populations in the shallow water, with its shoot tips growing over the water surface.

Description of Ludwigia Repens

Ludwigia Repens Care Guide – Planting, Growing, and PropagationLudwigia Repens is an attractive aquatic trailing plant, grown either partially submerged or fully submerged in the water column. This is a colored stem plant when grown fully submerged it will maintain lobed leaves with colors ranging from deep green to brownish red or deep red.

Ludwigia Repens is a dense mat-forming perennial herb with creeping stems up to 30 – 50 centimeters (or 12 – 20 inches) long and width of 4 – 6 cm (1.5 – 2.5 inches) depending on average leaf growth.

The leaves are oppositely arranged on red stalks, the top of these leaves are usually adorned in an olive green hue while the undersides are reddish (this is subject to changes depending on the light intensity).

The plant is known to sprout aerial roots; roots that grow from the internodes of the stems. Ludwigia Repens also possess small flowers that have four yellow-colored petals (~3mm long) embedded on a base of four-pointed sepals which may be slightly longer.

Tank Requirements and Water Parameters

Tank size:

Ludwigia Repens can thrive in a variety of tank sizes, even suited for nano tanks if properly maintained.

However, the recommended tank size for housing Ludwigia Repens is 10 gallons (~40 L).

Water type, Temperature, Hardness, and pH:

Temperature: The optimal water temperature should be between the range of 20 – 28 °C (68 – 82 °F). The plant can tolerate slightly lower temperatures as well.

pH: Ludwigia Repens will thrive best in tank water with pH value between 6.0 – 8.0

Hardness: The plant can easily tolerate soft or hard water but it does best in soft to moderate water, 3 – 8 GH.

Lighting:

Ludwigia Repens is one of the easiest plants to care for when we are talking about lighting requirements. It can tolerate from low to high light.

Originally, Ludwigia Repens was described as an evergreen plant. However, one of the reasons why it is a popular plant is the range of colors it can exhibit depending on the light – from green under low light to reddish (yellow or even purple hue) under moderate.

Under strong lighting and a decent full color spectrum (red/blue) for stronger coloration, it can become peed red.

Generally, Ludwigia Repens is a good choice for low-tech tanks.

Ludwigia Repens (Super Red) Care Guide – Planting, Growing, and Propagation
Ludwigia Repens (Super Red)

Important: In recent years, hobbyists created several varieties of this species with bright red foliage (var. “Red”, “Super red”, “Rubin”, etc.). The requirements for their maintenance do not differ from the original Ludwigia Repens species, except that they need more light.

In the presence of low light, the leaves of these ‘red versions’ of Ludwigia Repens tend to fall off, and its color is likely to fade. To ensure that the leaves remain vibrant all the time and maintain its reddish hue, they need at least moderate lighting.

Read more about it in my article “Advanced Guide to Planted Tank Lighting”.

Substrate:

Ludwigia Repens can be planted in a well-fertilized or quality nutrient-rich substrate that will promote a healthy root system; aquarium substrates like Seachem Fluorite, Carib Sea Eco-Complete, Fluval Plant & Shrimp Stratum can be utilized for this purpose.

There are some reports that Ludwigia Repens may have problems in a sand substrate as it can suffocate the roots because of how compact it can be.

Note: Ludwigia Repens can be even floated in the aquarium but it does best being planted.

Read more about it in my article “Top 5 Substrates For Planted Aquariums”.

CO2 and Fertilization:

Ludwigia Repens does not need a lot of light to get good color and large leaves. If you have a nutrient-rich substrate, it will grow in lower light even without fertilizers of root tabs.

However, if you are planning to use CO2 injections you will also have to provide more light and make sure that fertilization needs are duly met.

Important: If you keep shrimp in the tank with the Ludwigia Repens, I would highly recommend reading my articles:
CO2 in a Planted Tank Guide
CO2 in a Shrimp Tank

How Copper Affects Dwarf Shrimp
Shrimp Safe Plant Fertilizers
The point is that a high level of CO2 and Copper (most fertilizers contain copper) is extremely dangerous to the shrimp.  

Planting and Propagation of Ludwigia Repens

Ludwigia Repens is ideal for planting in the mid-ground or background of aquariums. Simply obtain four to five healthy cuttings or stems with roots and plant it in the substrate (2.5 cm or 1 inch deep). Make sure to space out the plants properly, this way they will grow better, and create a wonderful contrast in the tank.

Note: Do not bunch them too close to each other. Otherwise, the bottom leaves will be deprived of light and die off.

Propagation is easy just like other stem plants, cut off the top shoots and replant in the substrate. Always remove the lower leaves before planting to ensure a firm hold in the substrate.

Tip: Do not be afraid, even if you cut the Ludwigia Repens off leaving 2 nodes above the substrate. It will regrow.

If you allow Ludwigia Repens to grow out of the water, you may witness their reproduction in an emersed state. In nature, it occurs during the warm season when the plant is mature. It forms inconspicuous yellow flowers on the water surface. When the seeds develop, they will drop down to the substrate, and grow into new individual plants.

Care and Maintenance of Ludwigia Repens

Ludwigia Repens is one of the easiest plants to maintain and care for. In nature, it is even often considered to be an invasive plant of actual or potential threat to local waterways.

In the aquariums, this plant grows fast once its needs are fulfilled, and there would be a constant need to trim the shoots at least twice a month or whenever you notice that they are getting closer to the water surface.

Trimming Ludwigia Repens is no biggy, simply use pruning scissors to snip off the top lateral shoots, they will develop numerous side shoots which will make the plant bushier. You can also utilize this moment to take off dead, broken, and damaged leaves caused by infection, stress, or fish/snail aggression.

While trimming the top shoots, always endeavor to leave at least 2 inches (5 cm) of the plant with at least 2 nodes. This will help them grow back just fine and it encourages an excellent bushy effect in your tank.

The cuttings can either be replanted in the substrate or collected for outright disposal in plastic bags. In addition, it can also be gifted to hobbyists in need of the plant.

The biggest requirements of Ludwigia Repens are sufficient lighting and nutrients. If you want to see some reddish tint on the leaves, always maintain moderate lighting for at least 8 – 10 hours in order to intensify red pigmentation of the leaves.

Plants that do not have access to enough lighting will only grow taller and slender, and the leaves will not show much vibrant red hue.

Regular dosing of CO2, micronutrients, and fertilizers rich in iron will greatly enhance its growth and coloration.

Benefits of Ludwigia Repens:

Aquascape: Ludwigia Repens is one of the best choices for aquascapes. It grows really nicely in the tanks and looks very cool.

Removal of excess nutrientsLudwigia Ludwigia is a fast-growing plant, meaning that it helps to eliminate excess nutrients and nitrates from the tank water.

Prevents gas pockets: Although Ludwigia Ludwigia does not have a strong root system, it will still help to break up anaerobic pockets in the substrate.
Note: Hydrogen sulfide pockets (H2S, the gas smells like rotten eggs) can be really dangerous to your fish or shrimp.

Foraging place: This plant will be an additional place for the growth of biofilm, which is an ideal first food for newly hatched fry and shrimplets.

Shelter: Ludwigia Ludwigia will also provide shelter and hiding spots for shy fish and shrimp.

Oxygenation: As with all plants, it helps in oxygenating the water column in the aquarium.

Problems Associated with Ludwigia Repens

Loss of lower leaves: Ludwigia Repens may lose leaves at the bottom when it gets tall. This plant is known to lose its leaves in very low lighting conditions. Take the tops of each stem that looks healthy and replant and discard the lower dying growth. To avoid it in the future you should provide more light and maintain a photoperiod of 8 – 10 hours on a daily basis.

White leaves: This can be a sign of an iron deficiency if new leaves of Ludwigia Repens become white. The point is that Iron cannot be moved around inside plants, so when there is not enough of it, you will see some

Holes in leaves: In most cases, it is the result of Potassium deficiency. Plants often pull it from reserves in the lower parts of the plant, this usually starts as small holes in the older leaves and can progress to yellowing and total die off.

Emersed to submersed: In a situation where Ludwigia Repens is cultivated in emersed form, the plant may find it hard to convert fully to submersed form when introduced newly to an aquarium. This transitive process will result in shedding / melting of the old leaves before it adapts to the new environment, and proceed to regrow new ones.

You can also read “How to Spot Nutrient Deficiencies in Aquatic Plants”.

Ludwigia Repens and Tankmates

Creeping primrose-willow can be cultivated alongside plants like Java moss, Rotala rotundifolia, Java Fern, Cryptocoryne, Amazon Sword Plant, etc. This reddish-colored plant will blend perfectly with these greens, thereby creating contrasting hues which is a sight to behold.

Ludwigia Repens is compatible with:

Avoid:

You should avoid hostile, aggressive, and plant-eating fish species that will waste no time in tearing up the plants and fighting other fish in the tank. Fish species like Goldfish, Oscars, Rainbow fish are likely to nibble on the succulent leaves of this plant, therefore they should be avoided.

Do not keep Ludwigia Repens with crayfish or crabs. It is a well-known fact that these invertebrates are plant destructive (read my introduction to crayfish care). They will eat and uproot everything in the tank. Therefore, the best choice will be to have floater plants.

Buying Ludwigia Repens

Ludwigia Repens is affordable and widely available in local pet stores, it costs $5 – $10 or slightly more for a pot containing about 5 – 7 specimens. When buying this plant species, be on the look out for healthy leaves with a reddish hue.

In addition, plants having leaves with cuts and damages are red flags, stay away from such since you would be unable to tell if they are disease-ridden. You will get the best results if you obtain young plants with healthy roots and stems for cultivation.

Quarantine Ludwigia Repens

Unless you are completely sure that Ludwigia Repens is safe, for example, it was grown in sterile/laboratory conditions (in vitro) and in vitro pot is not damaged or opened, do not forget to quarantine and disinfect it first to avoid the risk of contamination and poisoning.

DO NOT introduce a new plant to your tank right after you bought it.

  • The plant can have parasites, pests like snails, or even predators (dragonfly, damsefly nymphs, etc.).
  • It may already contain residues of chemicals (pesticide) to remove parasites, snails, etc. These chemicals are extremely poisonous to fish, shrimp, and other invertebrates.

To find out more, read my articles:  

How to Remove Snails from a Shrimp Tank.
How to Quarantine and Disinfect Aquarium Plants.
Pesticides in Shrimp Tanks. Plants Quarantine.

In Conclusion

What you have here is a beautiful and alluring plant species. Ludwigia Repens is most sought-after by hobbyists that will love to have a variety of colors in their tank, especially those that have a liking for Dutch style aquascapes.

Are you in search of a versatile and undemanding plant for aquascaping? Do you want to introduce red hues in the mid-ground or background of your aquarium? Look no further, Ludwigia Repens is the perfect choice for you!

Related articles:

  1. Top 5 Plants for Your Shrimp Tank
  2. Top 7 Floating Plants for Beginners
  3. 10 Tips For Rooted Aquarium Plants

Ludwigia Repens Care Guide – Planting, Growing, and Propagation

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