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Journal of a New Victoria Addict

By Alan Montour with Kit & Ben Knotts
Photos by Alan Montour - Click to enlarge


April 21, 2003

Where oh where have all the Victoria leaves gone?

This update is all about leaves! Air and water surface temperature must be very important! To refresh some of your memories, this stock tank is on a plastic enclosed front porch. This is performing like a greenhouse with all its effects. The tank itself is covered with 2 polycarbonate panels and can act like a greenhouse too. Now that the sun is higher in the sky, direct sunlight is reaching this tank and my Victorias. Water is continuing to be heated to a temperature of 84°F. All this combined seems to be having a negative effect. Our weather here fluctuates at this time of year and air temps can go from highs of 80° to lows of 30°.

When I've been home, I have removed the polycarbonate panels from the top of the tank on very sunny warm days when porch temps are above 70°. When I am not available I turn off the lights resting on the panels and keep the panels in place. I have been hoping this would help to maintain an average air and water surface temperatures. I am not sure if this has been the best practice. Because where oh where have all my Victoria leaves gone, and just what is happening to them now? Nutrient supplementation and water exchanges have all been right on schedule!

It seems to us that Victoria leaves don't like abrupt changes in water or air temperatures. In your case the damage looks like what we see when the air temp rises and falls rapidly. You may want to leave the lights on. They shouldn't increase the air temp that much but, when turned off, could contribute to rapid cooling of the air.

There are several different manifestations -- "cupped up", "cupped down", "cooked" and dreaded "melt" are all present. I have noticed that the water's surface temperature does cool down when the covers are removed .and obviously increases (to the touch) when they are returned.

You can see all but the "cupped up" in this photo, taken nine days after this tank overheated to 120°F (the heater thermostat stuck). We returned the tank to normal temp within hours but the damage was done. A front was coming through at the same time, dropping the air temp. We think the blackening is from the cooler air temp. The cupping and cooking (leaves at right and under water center) are, in our case, from the water overheating.

Normal leaf formation has not been occurring here as of late!

If it's speed of putting up new leaves you're talking about, we think this is a separate issue. We would double the nutrients, then double them again once you see that you aren't burning the plants with the first increase. If it's the odd shape of the pads, stabilizing air temperature should cure the problem.

Removing "melting" leaves may not be one of the best practices to perform but I have been trying to maintain a healthy trouble-free environment.

This may be the right thing to do though we leave deteriorating pads in place as long as we think they or the stems might be benefiting the plants in any way.

I have "burped" my 'Challengers' for the very first time and it seems to have had an adverse effect on them. Or have I just waited to long to "burp" the babies?

"Burping", or pressing the soil down to release any trapped gas bubbles, can only help the plants. You may need to add some soil to keep the new roots covered.

Could the "crud" growing in this tank be a possible cause for the problems?

Unlikely. It's probably algae which actually improves the health of the tank.

It seems to me there's a constant struggle for balance in a Victoria environment. I hope I can achieve this balance once more. I can't wait to see the installation of Victoria in my pond and blossoms in Maryland in summer of 2003!

In the meantime just remember that the bigger the plant, the better able it is to survive ups and downs. In that at least we're lucky!

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