Eichhornia diversifolia

Variableleaf water hyacinth

Aquarium suitability: yes
Usage: Background, Midground
Difficulty: medium
Growth: fast
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Common names: 
  • Variableleaf water hyacinth

  • Heteranthera zosterifolia Vahl

Habit, plant type:

  • stem
Botanical name [?]: Eichhórnia diversifólia (Vahl) Urb.

Major group (unranked): Seed plants: Flowering plants (Angiosperms)
Order: Commelinales
Family: Pontederiaceae
Genus: Eichhornia


Eichhornia diversifolia grows submersed or with floating leaves in tropical waters of Central and South America. It is known to form vast zones of floating leaves in rivers.

Under optimal growing conditions, E. diversifolia is a fast grower. It needs strong light, at least 0.75 watts per litre. It should never be placed in shady areas, as its leaves tend to grow transparent then, and are shed after a short time. It needs CO2 fertilisation to form strong, robust stems. Sufficient nitrate and phosphate are crucial to its health, too - approx. 5-20 mg/l of nitrate and 1-2 mg/l of phosphate. A lack of these nutrients is probably the no. 1 reason for difficulties in cultivating this plant. If there is a deficiency, the lowest leaves will turn black and die off. In order for the plant to maintain its dark green colour it needs also large doses of iron and micronutrients. Given that the nutrient content of the water and/or the substrate is sufficient, E. diversifolia forms long, robust shoots.

This palm-like stem plant produces many shoots given that it has sufficient room, and develops into a bushy plant with hedgelike growth then, which makes it look a lot like its close relative Heteranthera zosterifolia. By the way, the assumption that Eichhornia diversifolia and Heteranthera zosterifolia are incompatible due to allelopathy has been proven wrong recently.
If E. diversifolia is allowed to grow to the water surface it forms ovate floating leaves with a kidney-shaped basis, and it can sprout beautiful blue flowers. Laterals shoots may be cut off and replanted in the substrate.

E. diversifolia is a beautiful green stem plant highly suitable as an eyecatcher or accent in the middle- or background of an aquarium.

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