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Hardiness: Moderate
Light Needs: High
Plant Structure: Stem
Family: Primulaceae
Genus: Hottonia
Region: Europe
Location: Europe
Size: Individual stem width: 2-5cm (1-2in)
Growth Rate: Fast
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes


Hottonia palustris is a pinnate-leafed aquatic plant native to wetland areas throughout Europe, where it is threatened, endangered, or extinct in certain parts of its range. It is usually found growing totally submersed except for the long flower spikes each bearing a set of light purple flowers. It is often used as a medicinal herb. Although relatively uncommon in the aquarium trade, it is used extensively as a decorative plant in ponds.

H. palustris is a moderately difficult plant to grow, requiring strong lighting, cooler water, and a steady supply of nitrate and phosphate through the water column. Lighting should be intense (3 watts per gallon or more) to prevent the lower portions of this plant from melting away. Do not allow this plant to become shaded, or it will slowly decline! CO2 additions greatly enhances the health and vigor of this plant. Cooler water below 80 degrees Fahrenheit stimulates faster growth, larger stem diameter, and general good health. NO3 and PO4 should ideally be kept above zero (even more ideally, above 5 ppm and 0.5 ppm respectively). Lack of adequate amounts of nitrate will result in puny, yellowish growth while lack of adequate amounts of phosphate will result in the darkening and gradual decline of the plant.

H. palustris, when under optimal growing conditions, is a very fast grower that puts forth an abundance of side shoots. Pruning can be done by either snipping off the tops and leaving the bottom portions in place or planting only the top portions. However, the former pruning method will produce the bushiest growth. Propagation can be performed by trimming off the aforementioned side shoots and replanting them in the substrate.

This plant can be pruned to create a distinctive midground bush in an aquascape, where its pinnate, snowflake-like foliage forms an excellent contrast with other plants. It is often used in Dutch style layouts.

Photo #1: US and International Copyright 2004 by Ghazanfar Ghori All Rights Reserved.