Pogostemon stellatus

Water star

Aquarium suitability: yes
Usage: Background, Midground
Difficulty: difficult
Growth: fast
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Common names: 
  • Water star

  • Dysophylla benthamiana Hance
  • Dysophylla stellata (Lour.) Benth.
  • Eusteralis stellata (Lour.) Panigrahi

Habit, plant type:

  • stem
Botanical name [?]: Pogostémon stellátus (Lour.) Kuntze

Major group (unranked): Seed plants: Flowering plants (Angiosperms)
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Pogostemon


Pogostemon stellatus is also known under the synonym Eusteralis stellata in aquaristics. It originates from swamps in East and Southeast Asia as well as in northern Australia. A lot of very different varietys of this species are found in nature as its area of distribution is vast.

Pogostemon stellatus is a breathtakingly beautiful plant, which has made it a very popular aquarium plant.
Unfortunately it is not easy to cultivate and has high requirements as to light and fertilisation. Insufficient light leads to leaf loss lower down on the stem. A constant CO2 supply is also a must if you want to enjoy your plant's beauty to the fullest.

Nitrate, phosphate and micronutrients should be added to the water column to ensure long-term success for cultivating this plant. The concentrations of nitrate (5-20 mg/l) and phosphate (0.2-2 mg/l) are not really relevant as long as they are kept stable. However, if growing conditions change too quickly, the top shoot of the plant may develop a crippled habit, and lateral shoots form. High levels of nitrate and phosphate cause Pogostemon stellatus to turn green, whereas lower levels of these nutrients induce colours of purple to orange. Pogostemon stellatus is an excellent micronutrient/iron indicator - a deficiency of these causes its leaves to turn yellow and even white in extreme cases.

The densely-growing whorls may reach a width of 6 to 14 cm. P. stellatus develops lots of lateral shoots, which can be cut off and replanted to propagate the plant. Trimming may be done in two ways: You either replace the old plant with the cut-off shoot, or use the shoot elsewhere.

Pogostemon stellatus is probably one of the most decorative aquarium plants and can develop into an optical highlight in the centre of a tank - given that its requirements are met. Its striking colours and attractive foliage form a beautiful contrast against broad-leaved green stem plants.

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