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dwarf hairgrass and java fern growth


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i bought a big java fern on a mat from my LFS long ago, and it had basically done nothing other than give me snails, it wasn't growing but wasn't really dying either


a few weeks ago i bought dwarf hairgrass and easygreen and now the java fern is seeing a lot of new growth with the easygreen and the dwarf hairgrass is growing well


i bought the dwarf hairgrass with the intent of it taking over the substrate and making a "lawn" in the tank, it hasn't done that and instead only grows vertically


is it supposed to expand horizontally?  how do i make it do that? 


also, there's a lot of "dead" growth or old growth on the java fern, can i just cut that off or is it better to just leave it be and let the plant deal with it itself?  i've heard they'll consume and wither away an old leaf to help create new ones



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Plants rarely prefer to stay short. It usually makes no sense. Obviously people manage to make it work; besides light I think it involves effort. Dwarf hairgrass is supposed to make runners, I don't know how fast it is.

(I have a Eriocaulon sp. 'Feather Duster' that "forms dense tufts", but it never got the memo and have like 10 leaves, maximum.)

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I would pluck out the dead java fern leaves if I were you. Plants benefit from pruning, and removing a dead leaf relieves the plants of having to dedicate energy to a lost cause. It will likely also stimulate new growth. On the dwarf hairgrass, my understanding is that you need high light and CO2 injection to keep carpeting plants low and dense. Otherwise they are going to try to get to the surface where they have better access to light and CO2 from the air. It will create runners and spread horizontally when it's happy and settled, but this can take time. Be patient with it and maybe add some root tabs at the base to stimulate growth. If the plant doesn't have enough nutrients, it won't feel like it can devote energy to creating new shoots.

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