The water wisteria, or Hygrophila difformis, is a very hardy and easy-to-grow aquarium plant, which is very popular among beginner as well as advanced aquarists.
This plant is native to India and neighboring countries such as Bangladesh, Thailand, Bhutan, Nepal, and parts of Malaysia. It usually grows during the rainy season in shallow waters, but in the home tank it will grow all year round.
In its natural habitat, the water wisteria can either be found floating on the water’s surface or rooted, growing partially immersed.
It usually grows up to 20 inches high and 10 inches wide, but with lower lighting it will be considerably smaller.
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Due to its size, the water wisteria is not recommended for Nano aquariums. It can be kept as a mid-ground or background plant in tanks of a minimum 10 gallons.
The water should be soft to moderately hard and pH should be 6.5-7.5, but it has been noticed this plant will thrive in any conditions, though fertilizers should still be added.
The water wisteria does best in water temperatures of 75-82 degrees Fahrenheit.
Planting your Water Wisteria
The best substrate for this plant is a specialty plant substrate very rich in nutrients. It can still grow in small grain gravel or sand substrate, as long as you keep fertilizing it with fertilizing tabs, but be careful to anchor the wisteria if you plant it in sand until the roots are well established in the substrate to avoid accidental uprooting.
The water wisteria makes a good mid- to background aquarium plant, but can also be grown as a carpet. For this, you have to plant it on its side and make sure the roots are developed along the stem.
This way, leaves will only grow on one side and extend along the substrate to create a carpet effect.
For a more striking effect, plant it between rocks or pieces of wood or next to other contrasting plants.
Care for your Water Wisteria
The water wisteria is very easy to care for, as it thrives in many conditions even without CO2 supplementation. For the best look and sturdy leaves, make sure you provide a nutrient rich substrate or at least constant fertilizing with tabs.
Fertilizing is very important, as the plant needs nitrate, phosphate, and, most importantly, iron to have a healthy development. Iron deficiency can easily be noticed if the leaves turn pale and yellowish.
Remove any dead or brown sections to prevent infections from spreading throughout the plant; this also allows it to use its energy and nutrients only for the healthy leaves and stems.
Occasional trimming may be needed to make sure light and nutrients reach all the stems and roots. You can always replant the stems you trimmed if you want lush vegetation.
It will grow well under moderate light, but strong light will help accelerate the wisteria’s growth rate and maintain the most intense colors.
Propagation is conducted through stem or leaf cutting near the base of the mother plant.
Plant cuttings will soon grow their own roots and develop into a new plant; if you keep cutting and replanting, newly developed shoots from each plant will form a bushy effect and you can even leave the plant to propagate by its own shoots to allow it to cover a larger surface.
Water wisteria is best kept together with smaller fish, shrimp, or snails that won’t try to eat the plant. Avoid cichlids, especially those that like to redecorate their tank and constantly uproot plants.
Goldfish are known to devour most plants in a matter of hours so, if it’s lucky enough, the water wisteria will keep a few lonely stems, which is why goldfish are not friendly tank mates for the water wisteria.
If you still want to keep this plant in a goldfish tank, you should consider growing some stems in a separate tank to be able to replace the eaten ones.
The water wisteria makes a good plant for breeding tanks, as its wide leaves provide a multitude of hiding places for spawning females and very young fry who run the danger of being consumed by adults.
Also, smaller fish in community tanks may hide between this plant’s leaves for some privacy or to avoid being harassed by larger fish.
With such an easy-to-grow plant, why use artificial ones? Live aquarium plants provide natural water filtration and a natural and tasty snack for fish that like to nibble on vegetable matter from time to time.
The water wisteria is one the most beautiful aquarium plants to add to your tank!