Hygrophila Difformis (Water Wisteria) Care Guide

hygrophila difformis

Last updated on July 9th, 2022 at 07:56 am

The hygrophila difformis plant, also known as water wisteria, is one of the most popular aquatic plants in the aquarium hobby. It’s easy to see why; with its bright green color and graceful growth habit, it’s incredibly hard to miss in an aquarium, even when surrounded by other plants. While this care guide will tell you how to grow water wisteria, it will also give you some information about proper care to help your wisteria flourish!

A water wisteria can be one of the easiest plants to care for in your home aquarium, but it’s important to understand how to take care of this plant properly so that it will thrive under your care and not die off easily.

Hygrophila difformis is a common freshwater aquarium plant that comes in many colors, including green, red, and purple, and grows rapidly in the right conditions. While it requires less maintenance than most plants, you will still need to know how to take care of this plant to keep it growing strong and healthy in your aquarium.

This guide on how to care for hygrophila difformis will help you choose the best environment for your new aquatic plant and how to keep it clean, free of algae and thriving throughout its life in your tank.

Origin and descriptions

hygrophila difformis

The water wisteria, also known as Hygrophila difformis (and although it is not closely related to wisteria), belongs to the acanthaceae family of aquatic plants. The species inhabits marshy habitats primarily on the Indian subcontinents in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal.

Hygrophila difformis, or dwarf hygro, is a small flowering aquatic plant that is also found in South America. In nature, it flourishes best in slow-moving streams and in bodies of freshwater with a neutral pH level and plenty of sunlight.

When grown indoors, however, it’s fairly adaptable to most environments and can survive in lakes, ponds and aquariums. It prefers temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius) but will tolerate cooler settings if it receives adequate light. Additionally, when placed outside during summer months, Hygrophila difformis requires partial shade to prevent scorching its leaves.

Hygrophila difformis species profile

hygrophila difformis

Water wisteria (Hygrophila difformis) is a popular aquarium plant that comes in many shapes and colors. There are hundreds of varieties, including Hygrophila difformis ‘Tropica’, which has dark red leaves that can contrast beautifully with other plants or create an interesting focal point on its own.

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As these plants grow older they sometimes lose their coloration but usually regain it after a re-potting. They are great beginner plants for any aquarist who wants to learn how to care for them properly. Here is a species profile of water wisteria, along with some tips for growing your own at home.

Hygrophila difformis height

Hygrophila difformis can easily grow to a height of 8-20 inches (20-50 cm) and a width of 6-10 inches (15-25 cm).

Hygrophila difformis fish tank size

This is a tall plant that can easily outgrow a Nano fish tank with its height of around 20 inches, hence the minimum recommended tank size is 10 gallons.

Water wisteria propagation

hygrophila difformis

Water wisteria can be propagated by seed, although it’s uncommon for home aquarium owners to do so. The easiest method is propagating from cuttings or plantlets. Plantlets are produced on a small piece of rhizome cut from an adult plant, left to grow for about 6–8 weeks in fresh water. During that time, new roots will develop and new shoots will form; at that point, you can transfer them to another tank and let them grow into adult plants.

Cuttings need to be placed directly in the tank with bright light and medium-hard water; they should root within 3 weeks. When planting your cuttings, dig holes large enough to accommodate both roots and ensure good contact between roots and substrate (sand/soil). Firm down soil/sand mixture around each cutting when positioning them in your aquarium. Remove leaves around the base of cutting if leaves show any sign of rotting or other decay.

Ensure adequate oxygenation by using either airstones or powerheads – try not to crowd too many plants together as that reduces flow throughout your tank due to surface tension.

Airline tubing works great for gently trickling water over your planted cuttings without disturbing them. Aquarium Mosses work well as a sort of substrate matting where you want slow growth rates and high stability.

Make sure not to include an excessive amount of live plants with high nutrient requirements in your tank because these can use up all available nutrients causing issues with algae growth. Maintaining high dissolved oxygen levels is key to healthy plant growth!

Hygrophila difformis care

hygrophila difformis

Hygrophila difformis requires slightly different care from most aquarium plants. The most important thing is that it grows best in very bright light, preferably full sun. In tanks with sufficient lighting, a low-light plant such as java moss may be used to shade it somewhat.

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Water wisteria is easy to care for aquatic plants that require regular pruning and careful monitoring of light conditions in order to thrive in the home aquarium. Here is all you need to know about caring for this unique plant, from proper lighting levels and fertilizer requirements to tips on creating the ideal environment. Remember that with the right amount of care, water wisteria can be a vibrant and beautiful addition to your home aquarium!

Light requirements

Hygrophila difformis needs moderate light but can adapt to low light conditions. Under low-light conditions, it grows smaller leaves and requires more frequent fertilization, especially with organic fertilizers like fish emulsion. When using a high-quality fertilizer designed for plants grown in lower light, make sure not to overfeed your hygrophila!

You can adjust your plant’s lighting situation after observing its reaction and adjusting accordingly over several weeks. It takes a while for plants to adapt to new light situations, so patience is key! It’s always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to lighting, as too much light isn’t good for aquatic plants either.

Under direct sunlight all day long, hygrophila tends to burn up and lose its leaves pretty quickly. It also grows extremely fast in full sunlight, which might cause it to outgrow a pot before you know it!

Substrate/soil requirements

Hygrophila difformis is a fast-growing stem plant and will grow equally well attached to wood or in soil, but it does not like to have its roots disturbed so it is best to allow them to grow without moving them around.

When planted into the soil, place a layer of clay marbles at the bottom of your pot as these will aid in keeping moisture levels steady and prevent too much water from reaching their roots. If you want an all-natural substrate for your wisteria (and don’t mind extra maintenance), try using a 1:1 mixture of perlite : pumice stone to ensure that nutrients are easily available and dissolved in both air and water circulation within your tank.


Water wisteria requires less fertilization than most other aquatic plants. For optimal growth, add a complete liquid fertilizer such as Seachem Flourish every two weeks. Each teaspoon contains a quarter of your plant’s nitrogen and phosphorous requirements for two weeks. However, you should be able to go longer than that before adding more if it is thriving in its current conditions.

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You can also feed with slow-release dry fertilizers or do a partial water change instead to provide nutrients. That said, make sure you don’t add too much fertilizer because high levels of phosphate have been known to kill these plants by shutting down photosynthesis in leaves.

Hygrophila difformis temperature

Water wisteria grows best in a range of 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It can tolerate cooler and warmer temperatures, but it will not thrive. For optimal growth, keep your wisteria between 65 and 75 degrees for 24 hours before moving it into direct sunlight.

The temperature shock shouldn’t kill it or inhibit growth, but you should monitor its progress closely if you go above or below that ideal temperature by more than 10 degrees. If your wisteria is getting too cold—below 60 degrees F at night—consider giving it some shade from trees, plants or buildings throughout daylight hours when outside temperatures are higher.


Although many plants like low humidity, water wisteria is more comfortable with a bit more humidity. If you’re growing hygrophila indoors, it’s important to try and maintain a relative humidity of around 40-50%. To do so, try misting your plant lightly once a day. Don’t soak it or drip water down its leaves as that can cause root rot.


hygrophila difformis

If you want to keep your Wisteria from growing out of control and cluttering up your tank, it’s a good idea to prune it regularly. This can be as simple as clipping stems that grow above water level. If you want to keep more of a natural look, try trimming off long runners that can get tangled in other plants or hang down into dead spots in your aquarium.

Clip them back so they stay submerged underwater. You should also remove any old leaves or branches at least once per month. As part of your regular cleaning routine, make sure to use scissors on any algae growth on leaves and stems—and if there is a lot of dirt buildup around leaves/stems, then it may be time for some heavy-duty scissors!

Hygrophila difformis growth rate

When you buy your Hygrophila Difformis plant, check its growth rate. The growth rate should be in between fast and slow (moderate). A fast-growing Hygrophila Difformis may need pruning to keep it from becoming too long for an aquarium environment. However, any pruning is a delicate matter that should be left to experts or those who have extensive experience with plants and aquaria.

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Slow-growing plants will produce fewer shoots over time, but they can still create havoc if they are placed in an aquarium without adequate space. Make sure you’re buying a plant whose shoots will fit your tank size before purchasing it!


Hygrophila is considered to be moderately toxic. However, it doesn’t appear to cause much harm in fish when kept at a steady level. Algae-eating fish are often attracted to Hygrophila because of its thick leaf structure; as long as you don’t have too much (as it tends to grow quickly), your tank inhabitants should be fine.

USDA hardiness zones

Hygrophila difformis are usually sold as an aquatic plant, and can be found in a number of home improvement and garden stores. They can flourish year-round in zones 10B through 11 if grown indoors, but may experience stunted growth or loss of leaves during their winter hibernation period. They grow best in full sun, with moderate to high levels of lighting.

Pests and diseases

Like any living thing, your wisteria can suffer from a variety of pests and diseases. Thankfully, if you keep up with your care guide and provide it with everything it needs to thrive, your plant should be able to fight off most common problems on its own. If you suspect any serious disease or infestation on your plant, seek professional help right away.

The most common pests of Hygrophila difformis are mites and snail. Mites that feed on the plant include red spider mites, two, and three spotted spider mites. If you notice webbing on leaves or small yellow spots on leaves, then you most likely have a spider mite infestation. A few good ways to control spider mites is with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil used in early spring before plants start to leaf out.