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Water Wheel Plant - Aldrovanda vesiculosa

Aldrovanda
Soil
peaty water with dead leaf litter
Aldrovanda
Container
water filled tub or aquarium
Watering
aquatic, submerged growing CP
Light
full to part sun
Temperature
warm summer, cool winter-tolerates frost
Humidity
100%, submerged aquatic
Location
outdoors, windowsill, terrarium, greenhouse
Dormancy
yes
Habitat
The Waterwheel Plant, Aldrovanda vesiculosa, is native to the acid bog pools of Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe.  It grows submerged in acidic, peaty water that is low in nutrients, but rich in dead leaf litter.  The typical climate is warm temperate.  The mean summer water temperature is 80°F (27°C) and the mean winter water temperature is 40°F (4°C) with water temperature ranges between 35-90°F (2-32°C).  Air temperatures can range from 20°-105°F (-7-40°C).  Companion CPs include Utricularia inflata and other Utricularia species.
Culture
Aldrovanda is a very challenging aquatic CP to grow.  It does best in a large tub or tank, 30 gallons or more, but even better in an outdoor bog pool.  Add a 1” layer of peat moss and leaf litter to the water.  This releases tannins into the water that is critical to good Aldrovanda growth and reduces algal growth.  Let the pool age for a week or more before introducing the Aldrovanda.  It is important to include other submergent plants in pots such as Cattail, Pickerel Weed, Water Lilies or Arrowhead Plant.  The leaf litter generated by these companion plants is essential to promote the growth of daphnia, protozoa and other aquatic “food.”  In addition these companion plants keep algae growth to a minimum during the warm growing summer months.  A companion CP such as Utricularia inflata will consume extra nutrients from the water and it is good practice to remove half of the Utricularia periodically to remove the excess nutrients from the pool.  The water can be a sphagnum peat slurry, with the Aldrovanda growing on the top.  If grown outdoors the pool should be deep enough so that the pool bottom is below the frost line, about 18”-24” (45-60cm) in many areas.  Aldrovanda, like most CPs, prefers warm, bright, sunny conditions.
Dormancy
Winter dormancy is required.  As day length and temperature diminish the plant will slow its growth and develop winter buds or turions at the plant tips.  These will drop off, sink and over-winter in the bottom of the pool.  The top of the pool may be ice covered, but the bottom should be deep enough so that the water does not freeze solid.  In early spring as the water warms, the turions will begin growth and the plants will float to the surface, often before other plants begin spring growth.  For indoor culture, the turions may be kept in a peat slurry in the refrigerator.
Feeding
Aldrovanda’s traps are under water and quite small.  Their common “foods” are daphnia, mosquito wigglers, and protozoa.  They do a marvelous job of attracting and catching prey all on their own.  It is troublesome, difficult and unnecessary to feed them.

Other Considerations
  • Aldrovanda does not compete well with algae.  Acidic peaty water and companion submergent plants will help reduce a problem with algae.
  • Flowering requires prolonged, warmer temperatures around 90°F.
  • Aldrovanda can be grown on top of a peaty slurry as long as the plant stays wet.  On occasion the water level may go low in a pool or tub, but the Aldrovanda can survive extended periods if keep wet.
  • Consider growing Aldrovanda outdoors.  They can tolerate frost or a light freeze.  They grow exceeding well in a bog pools in the yard.

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