How to Plant Water Lettuce in a Pond (Care & Grow Guide)

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How to Plant Water Lettuce in a Pond (Care & Grow Guide)

Water Lettuce is often mistaken for a floating head of cabbage. This is understandable as both are similar in appearance and float on the water’s surface. It features ribbed and velvety foliage, usually in light green to lime-green color.

Water Lettuce or Pistia Stratiotes was discovered 2000 years ago along the Nile River. The earliest documentation of the plant can be found in ancient Greek botanists’ writings and Egyptian hieroglyphics. They are everywhere – marshes, lakes, bogs – across all continents except Antarctica.

Pond and water garden owners prefer Water Lettuce because it helps keeps the water clean by preventing algae growth. It also absorbs heavy metal toxins, including cadmium and zinc, from water.

That said, it is important to note that Water Lettuce can become quite intrusive due to its vigorous growth, especially in the Southern states.

Water Lettuce - Floating Live Pond Plant

Water Lettuce - Floating Live Pond Plant

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Water Lettuce Quick Look

Common Names

Water cabbage, water lettuce, Nile cabbage, shellflower, Pistia Stratioes

Plant Type

Floating plant

Light Requirements

Partial to Full Shade

Hardiness Zones

USDA 9-11


Late summer to early fall

Grow Up To

12 inch spread

Flower Color

White, yellow

How To Plant Water Lettuce In A Pond

After buying your Water Lettuce in small groups or by the head, detach all yellow leaves in preparation for planting. The best time to plant is during late April when the last frost of the season has gone. To plant, spread the lettuce across your pond and ensure minimal movement.

Tip: Tie a fishing line around the bunch of water lettuce you placed in the pond to help keep them immobilized.

Despite being a tropical plant, Water Lettuce thrives most when summer is just starting, with the temperatures still around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 Celsius).

For best results, install a partial shade for your Water Lettuce during midday. This protects them against peak mid-day temperatures, especially in hot climates.

did you know Important

Koi pond owners will need to plant Water lettuce in an area inaccessible by their fish as koi like to eat the roots and foliage of this plant.

Water Lettuce Care Guide

It is recommended to prune or trim the flowers and leaves once they start turning brown or yellow. Discarding these leaves and flowers outside of your pond helps to minimize the excess organic material contained in the water.

Water Lettuce does not require fertilization to reproduce – all the required nutrients come from the excess nutrients in the pond water.

Winter Care

Water Lettuce struggles with freezing temperatures or cold water, with the leaves turning white before rotting. So, if you are in Zones 8 and lower, discard your Water Lettuce at the end of the first frost.

Water Lettuce - Floating Live Pond Plant

Water Lettuce - Floating Live Pond Plant

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Water Lettuce Care Card

Download our free printable care card for the Water Lettuce plant! Click the care card below and save the PDF file to your computer. You can easily print off the 3x5 care card or access it right from your phone. Get all the important information you need to keep your Water Lettuce plants healthy and happy!

Plus, we provide a blank card for you to print and fill out yourself. Print it as many times as you like to create cards for all your plants!

Water Lettuce care card

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Is Water Lettuce good for ponds?

You can never go wrong with Water Lettuce in your pond. It helps to control algae, monitor nutrient levels in the pond water, and keep the pond water clean. It also serves as a form of cover for backyard ponds, while serving as a spawning ground for frogs and pond fish.

Does Water Lettuce need soil?

No, water lettuce does not need soil to grow and thrive. You can simply spread them on the pond surface – they get the needed nutrients for survival from the pond water.

Is Water Lettuce easy to grow?

Water Lettuce is easy to grow in the right conditions and requires only minimal care to thrive. Just be sure to monitor their growth and remove excess water lettuce plants as they can take over a pond rather quickly.

Is Water Lettuce an oxygenator?

Yes, water lettuce is an oxygenating pond plant. However, it’s considered a floating plant, so it won’t provide as much oxygen to pond water as a submerged plant.