Water Lettuce (Pistia): Care, Feeding, Propagation, Habitat

Pistia is a floating plant for aquarium with several names: Water Lettuce, floating water rose. The culture conquered aqua designers with its attractive appearance and unpretentiousness. All novice aquarists will find it interesting to know what a pistia is.

water lettuce pistia care

Water Lettuce Habitat and origin

Pistia stratiotes (Araceae) are popular all over the world, but the perennial plant of the aroid family is native to Africa, the American, and Asian tropics. It resembles an outwardly opened bunch of lettuce or a head of cabbage, which makes it different from all other crops. Under natural conditions, it spreads quickly, bushes can grow up to 30 cm in diameter.

If you do not control the growth of the pistia, then it can do a lot of harm.

If you do not follow the growth, Water Lettuce:

  • densely covers the surface of all bodies of water, creating difficulties for ships;
  • shades other plants, disrupting gas exchange, which leads to waterlogging of the reservoir;
  • infests rice fields and other crops;
  • leads to an increase in the number of mosquitoes that like to breed in the leaves of the culture;
  • quickly spreads through water, with the help of wind and birds, which carry seeds over long distances.

However, pistia is a useful plant:

  • Malaysians, Chinese and Indians use the culture to treat dysentery, venereal and skin diseases;
  • pigs and other livestock eat grass;
  • is a nutritious fertilizer;
  • removes stains from fabrics and other surfaces;
  • serves as a detergent for dishes;
  • Asians eat boiled leaves, add to cold and hot dishes;
  • in aquariums and other artificial reservoirs, it cleans and filters water from salts and heavy metals, helps to improve the aquaclimate, fry, small fish and spawning females hide in the roots, and red-eared turtles love to feast on roots and leaves;
  • creating natural shading, prevents the appearance of algae;
  • serves to decorate aquariums, ponds, greenhouses, you can even grow in a pot of water on a windowsill.

When grown in favorable conditions, the plant actively develops throughout the year.

Water Lettuce Aquarium Plant description

The plant looks impressive:

  1. The stem of the pistia is short.
  2. Rounded and tapering to the base, light green leaves grow up to 20 cm long and 10 cm wide, forming rosettes floating on the surface.
  3. The veins on the leaf plates are parallel to the length; due to their small indentation, a corrugation effect is formed.
  4. The structure of the leaves allows the plant to stay stably on the water surface, and the small gray villi on them do not allow the velvet leaves to get wet.
  5. At the top of the rosette there are small white or yellowish male inflorescences resembling bells. They can form from 2 to 8 pieces. There is only one female flower among them.
  6. Pistia is pollinated independently, but it can also reproduce vegetatively.
  7. The plant’s feathery roots are under water.

The culture develops in cycles: with an increase in the length of the day, it grows faster, forming new shoots and leaves. In winter, a dormant period sets in, and growth stops.

Water Lettuce (PISTIA)varieties and types

water lettuce pistiavarieties and types

There are several varieties of small diameter water lettuce (up to 15 cm):

  1. Angyo Splash (variegated) has green leaves covered with yellowish-creamy spots and stripes, forming a peculiar pattern. Under unfavorable conditions, the color disappears and the color becomes monotonous – such leaves must be removed.
  2. The popular Aqua Velvet (blue type) has small leaves that form a bluish rosette. Looks especially impressive in small aquariums.
  3. The smallest Ruffled (corrugated species), which grows up to 10 cm in diameter, has strongly corrugated tips on the leaves.

Care for all varieties is practically the same, there are no special requirements for the maintenance of each type of pistia.

Each water rose is characterized by interesting features: the pistia is able to hold on in a strong current, not moving from its place, while exposing its roots against the current. An unusual phenomenon can be observed both at home (if the tank is equipped with a pump) and in nature.

Water Lettuce care in aquarium

Water Lettuce requires close attention and high-quality care since it tends to grow quickly and fill the space.

With the right approach to growing kale, it will quickly fill a pond or tank. To exclude the complete shading of benthic plants, the pistia must be regularly cut, preventing the filling of an artificial reservoir. Green thickets look beautiful but do not forget about timely thinning.

Many aquarists stretch over the area of ​​the water surface where the water rose is undesirable, a synthetic thread through which it does not pass.

Pistia is able to quickly adapt to new conditions, reduce the concentration of salt and heavy metals in water. The aquarium is not tightly closed with a lid to create the necessary moisture in the container.


The favorable water temperature for pistia is + 19 … + 32 ° С. With reduced rates, kale will not die, but growth and development will slow down. If the temperature is low, then there should be more continuous lighting.

The plant is also undemanding to hardness and acidity, but it feels better with an acid-base balance of 5 to 7 pH and hardness of dH from 5 to 14 ° J. Hard water will lead to stunted growth and wilting of the bushes.

Planting substract

When growing a pistia, you do not have to select a special soil, but during the period of active plant growth (spring-summer), you need to apply mineral fertilizers and replace the liquid by 25% once a week.

Kale is endowed with filtering properties, but regular water renewal is required to perform these functions properly.

When keeping the pistia in a paludarium in a pot standing on a pallet of water, peat with coarse sand, to which 2 tsp is added, will become a suitable soil. garden land (with a container diameter of up to 10 cm).


The leaves of water rose open during the day, and roll up in the evening, which suggests that the plant needs lighting only in the daytime, additional lighting is not required. It will be enough about 12 hours of daylight hours, while a fluorescent lamp of 10 W per 1 dm² of the surface should be used – other devices can burn the delicate leaves of the pistia.

In insufficient light, the leaves become smaller, and the plant resembles duckweed.

Water Lettuce plant feeding

By the roots of the plant, you can determine the composition of the water: in water-poor in organic matter, the roots are fluffy, long, and powerful; in rich in trace elements, the roots are less developed. The dense roots indicate that the kale is in urgent need of nutritional support and water changes.

The harsh conditions of detention, under which other plants would have died long ago, the water rose can withstand calmly, however, the water salad must be fed with complex fertilizers in spring and summer so that the water rose develops well and does not get sick:

  1. In the heat, the pistia is attacked by insects and pests. If characteristic lesions begin to appear on the leaves, they should be treated with specialized preparations. Then rinse thoroughly with clean water.
  2. Fungi or bacteria can infect adult but weakened plants. In case of rotting or other types of lesions, diseased bushes must be removed from the aquarium, and the water must be replaced completely.
  3. When transplanting, rinsing the roots of the pistia and placing the plant temporarily (for 30 days) in quarantine, in a separate container with clean water, will help to avoid infection. Only after this is the newcomer transplanted into a common aquarium.
  4. You should not plant the water salad in a container where snails or other exotic molluscs live – they will eat up the leaves and destroy the plant.

If you plan to treat the inhabitants of the aquarium, the pistia needs to be temporarily transplanted into another container, because she can’t stand medicine.

Water Lettuce winter rest period

Winter is an ordeal for Pistia.

It is necessary to prepare the plant for dormancy and create favorable conditions for “hibernation”:

  • from the beginning of autumn, they begin to slowly reduce the water temperature to + 17 ° С;
  • the duration of lighting is reduced by 2 times;
  • do not apply fertilizers;
  • less often they renew water.

Under these simple conditions, kale will grow and develop beautifully after wintering. With increasing lighting in winter, the aquarium plant begins to shrink and degenerate.

Water Lettuce propagation

The water rose reproduces from spring to autumn during its growth by its seeds and vegetatively. It is necessary to separate the side shoots with leaves and place them in the moss, keeping an eye on the level of humidity and temperature (it should be at least 13 ° C). When the bush takes root and gets stronger, it can be transplanted into a permanent habitat, a pot or a pond (at a water temperature not lower than + 16 ° C).

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