Water Cabbage- Growing and Care Tips

As its name suggests, water cabbage is a plant that grows in ponds and floats on the water. Its roots hang in water under leaves that float. The big, soft leaves are arranged in a rosette. The leaves can be up to 14 cm long and don’t have a stem. They are light green and have parallel veins and wavy edges. They are covered with short hairs that form basket-like structures that trap air bubbles and make the plant float higher. The flowers are small and hidden among the leaves in the middle of the plant. Different plants have male and female flowers. Even though the water lettuce plant isn’t very showy, it has tiny white or pale green flowers hidden in the leaves. It blossoms from late summer to late fall. When the seeds are fertilized, they grow into small green berries. The plant can also reproduce without males or females. The short stolons that connect the mother and daughter plants make dense mats. Because of how it grows, the water cabbage plant spreads quickly and can be problematic.

Growing water cabbage indoors?

You can grow water lettuce indoors or outdoors in water gardens, ponds, or pots. The leaves of this plant only grow about 6 inches tall, but the roots can grow up to 20 inches deep. Once it’s grown up, it grows very quickly and is considered an invasive plant in some places. But surprisingly, growing water cabbage indoors is considered to be a challenging task.While with a little work, these plants can form a beautiful maze of hanging roots perfect for fry and fish that don’t like to stay still. So continue to read the whole post to grow these maze-hanging water lettuce.

Varieties of Water Cabbage

  • Pistia stratiotes‘ Ruffles’

As suggested by its name, this variety sports ruffled leaves a variety of water lettuce. It doesn’t get as big as some other types, which makes it a good choice for smaller pots. 

  • Pistia stratiotes ‘Jurassic’

This type of water cabbage plant grows rosettes of leaves that can be up to 12 inches wide. Even though it is bigger than most, it does not grow quickly. 

  • Pistia stratiotes’ Splash’

This variety of water cabbage stays small and has beautiful leaves with different colors. It is hard to find because it is a rare type.

Water Cabbage Care

Add water cabbage to a pond or water garden, and simply distribute this floating plant on the water’s surface in the spring. Ideally, choose a location without a current, as these plants do not grow well when pushed across the water. If your water environment contains a current, use a floating dam to isolate the water lettuce from the current. Plastic tubing and suction cups attached to the edges of a tank, a hula hoop, rocks, or a fishing line serve this purpose well for growing water cabbage.

Water cabbage is excellent for cleaning the water of decomposition byproducts and is frequently used to maintain the health of fish and aquatic life. This plant also reduces algae blooms by blocking sunlight in the water and using the nutrients needed for the algae to bloom. It can be cultivated in water gardens with fish, but larger fish such as koi, cichlids, and goldfish may nibble and damage the water lettuce plants.


  • Since the roots of this water cabbage plant are not anchored to the ground, healthy growth can occur even without the presence of soil. 


  • Water cabbage needs full to partial sun exposure. The afternoon shade will shield it from the intense heat. Give new plants time to adjust by placing them in low lighting and gradually exposing them to more sunlight as the plants become established. Water lettuce grown in nurseries is typically grown under low light conditions. 
  • Too much sunlight may cause leaves to turn yellow. In contrast, plants with less than optimal sun exposure may have darker green leaves than usual. 
water cabbage in bright sunlight
  • Water conditions play a crucial role in cultivating water lettuce as an aquatic, floating plant. Soft to slightly hard water is optimal. The maximum amount of salt that water cabbage can withstand is 2.5 parts per thousand. It is intolerant of lime. 
  • Similarly to how you would consider soil pH for container or garden plants, you must also consider water pH for the health of water lettuce. This water cabbage plant prefers neutral or slightly alkaline pH levels. Aim for a pH between 6.5 and 7. 

water cabbage care

Temperature and Moisture 

  • Water cabbage does best in water temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It is recommended in general.
  • Because this water cabbage plant is primarily aquatic, it thrives in medium to high humidity levels. As a result of low humidity levels, growing this plant will be difficult, as the leaves will dry out. 


  • If the leaves of water lettuce begin to turn yellow, a nutrient deficiency may be to blame. If the water lacks the proper levels of nutrients, Plants may require a fertilizer treatment. 

water cabbage in need of fertilizer

  • There are numerous methods for fertilizing water cabbage. You can remove the plants and soak them in liquid fertilizer for a few hours, add fertilizer directly to the pond or aquarium, or add a nutrient booster to the water. 
  • If you decide to add fertilizer or nutrient booster to your pond or tank, you should consider its effect on other aquatic organisms, such as plants and fish. If uncertain, it may be best to fertilize water cabbage separately.


You must remove runner plants from water lettuce due to its rapid growth and invasiveness if you want to keep your pond or water feature free of this vegetation. You will need to complete This pruning typically weekly. In addition, removing the larger mother plants will aid in containing the spread if you have an abundance of water lettuce. 

water cabbage

Propagation  of Water Cabbage

Since it spreads so rapidly, propagating water lettuce is simple. This is how: 

  1. Cut the stolon connecting the mother plant to the daughter plant using sharp shears.
  2. Daughter plants, also known as runner plants, are vegetative offshoots that develop their own roots from the mother plant. 
  3. Remove the offspring of water lettuce and relocate it to its new environment.

These plants will typically thrive if propagation is unchecked, contributing to their invasive nature. 

water cabbage propagation

Planting water cabbage seedlings 

It is uncommon to grow water lettuce from seed, but it is possible. If you possess seeds, here’s how to germinate them: 

  1. Lightly bury the seed in the sand. 
  2. Water the soil and seed thoroughly. 
  3. Maintain soil and seed immersion in water. 

The seed will sprout and eventually fill the container. Water lettuce will now prepare for transplantation into your aquatic environment. 

Overwintering Water Cabbage

 Water cabbage cannot tolerate cold temperatures. You can overwinter a plant by placing it in a smaller container of water (such as a fishbowl) and storing it in a location with temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.


It would be best if you didn’t put water cabbage in a tank with goldfish or other large herbivorous fish because they like to eat the roots and sometimes the plant itself.

Also Read: 5 Easy to Grow Indoor aquatic Plants)


Water cabbage, also called Nile cabbage, is an aquatic plant that can be surprisingly hard to grow in a home aquarium. With a little effort, however, these plants can become a stunning labyrinth of hanging roots, ideal for finicky fish.

Though there is debate over its ancestry on the continent, it is thought that water lettuce is an indigenous plant to Africa. It was first seen near Lake Victoria on the Nile River. In the years since People first found it, it has spread worldwide and is now a real threat to native fish and plants. So before growing these beauties, research the status and regulations in your area.

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