Red Mangrove

kaktuskris(5)February 19, 2011

Anyone else here currently growing Red Mangrove as a houseplant? I have 3 plants currently growing in a jar of salt water with fired clay and charcoal as media, and they seem to like it. I like the leathery leaves.


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Do mangrove's actually need salt water to grow? I knew they tolerated it, but if they actually require it that's pretty interesting.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 10:32PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

No, they don't need salt water - nor do they need to grow in water at all.
If I'm remembering rightly, they are able to direct salts to a few sacrificial leaves,
which yellow and then drop. Mangrove are probably healthier when grown in soil,
but they're a novelty when grown in water/fish-tanks.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 12:43AM
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Josh, I don't know if they "need" salt water, as I am not an expert, but I don't believe Red Mangrove do better in soil. In their native habitat in Florida, I have only observed them near salt water. Nor have I seen ornamental plantings away from water or near fresh water. I tried fresh water with my mangroves, and saw some decline, so switched back to salt water.

If they receive too much salt, some leaves will yellow and drop. But they actually transpire, if that is the correct term, any excess salts through the stem. They also have roots, known as "knees" I think, which will grow vertically above the water line. Interesting plants, in my opinion.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 10:42AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I think they're really interesting plants, as well.

Yeah, they have structures in their roots that allow them to "breathe" when the tide comes in
(and also exclude salts from entering). I'm a big fan of trees, like Cypress, that develop those
"knees" you mentioned in order to cope with flooded conditions.

One of our Forum members, Stanofh, has spoken of these trees in containers of soil with fresh
water in trays below. Perhaps he will notice this Thread and add his experience.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 11:31AM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

The red mangrove pumps magnesium into its roots, which allows the roots to absorb water through osmosis while excluding salts. The aerial "prop" roots also conduct oxygen down to the lower roots in order to compensate for the anaerobic substrate they grow in. Salt excretion and pneumatophores (or "knees") are characteristics of the black mangrove, not the red. So if you're growing the red mangrove in saltwater, be sure that it has sufficient magnesium. (Dumping a bit of table salt in the water will not benefit the plant.) People do grow them in freshwater, and they should benefit from it since they don't have to expend energy transporting large quantities of magnesium. My only experience is growing them in a saltwater aquarium, though. If you were having troubles with freshwater, my guess would be that they were missing some nutrients. Are you fertilizing? With calcium and magnesium as well?

Nice looking plants, though. I also like the leathery leaves on them. What are you going to do when they outgrow the jars?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 11:52AM
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Josh and Penfold, thanks for your remarks. I can only tell you what I have observed with my own plants, and what I have observed seeing both red and black mangroves in habitat in Florida.

I do see salt excretions on the stems of my red mangroves, so I can't agree that salt excretion is "exclusive" to the black mangrove. And as I said, they seem to thrive better for me in salt water, so I have no desire to change that at this time. Sometimes I add some all purpose water soluble fertilizer.

When they outgrow the jars? Bigger jars. The first jar I started them in became to small, so I had to smash it to remove the plants to larger containers.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 1:48PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

No worries, Christopher! ;-)

I certainly didn't mean to imply that you should change your operation!
I was just answering Amccour's post above.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 2:27PM
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Chris, may I just say that is quite a nice looking plant!

Great job and you live in Maine to boot..Nice
I'll bet you are enjoying the lovely wind and cold these past few days! A little bit of Florida with you certainly makes for a better day.

Hey Josh, good to see you:-)

Amccour and Penfold2, good to see you both doing well too.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 2:37PM
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Beautiful trees, Christopher. Would you have a full photo? Would love to see the height and the size of the jars. How do you make the salt water? Do you use fresh salt water or do you make it?

I have seen Mangroves in Florida and they are lovely. I might be tempted to give them a go if not too complicated.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 8:18PM
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Hey Mike:

You gotta know, I only live about 20 minutes from you, in southern NH, not Maine! Barharbor75 is just an email address, not my address.

Josh: No worries, always appreciate your input!

Jane: I will try to take a photo of the whole thing. But basically I just threw it together with materials at hand, (I think the jar might be a 2lb jamjar!) and it worked. I sorta just calculated the salt quantity based on the average salinity of seawater.

The mangroves are started from what look like long green pods called propagules. They are very common in parts of Tampa Bay. I believe it is illegal to take the young plants, as mangroves are an important part of the ecosystem. But the propagules often wash up on the beaches, and this is how I got started.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 8:49PM
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So, you grew that tree from seed? Amazing! I'll be in Tampa this Spring.

Great growing,


    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 11:13PM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

I think it's unusual that you have better luck with saltwater than freshwater. There may be some issues with acclimating plants from one to the other. But if it's working now, that's great.

If you are just adding table salt to the water and begin to notice problems, you may want to consider adding some epsom salt for magnesium. To raise the magnesium concentration from 0 to the natural seawater level of 1300ppm, you would need to add ~50 grams of epsom salt per gallon. Some calcium would be good too, but then I'd be on my way to creating a whole recipe for synthetic seawater :)

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 11:14PM
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One could always buy the bagged salt-water mix used for aquariums. But maybe that's getting too fussy.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 9:17PM
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