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Hardiness: Easy
Light Needs: Medium
Plant Structure: Stem
Family: Pontederiaceae
Genus: Heteranthera
Region: Central/South America
Location: Brazil
Size: Individual stem width: 5-12cm (2-5in)
Growth Rate: Fast
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes


Heteranthera zosterifolia, often called stargrass, is a native of Brazil where it grows in still water and in marshy areas. This fragile, soft-leaved plant is now relatively common in the aquatic plant hobby.

H. zosterifolia is relatively easy to grow and an excellent indicator of aquarium conditions. Although it can be grown in lower light (down to 1.75 watts per gallon with power compact bulbs) and non-CO2 conditions, it really does show its full potential under high light and pressurized CO2 injection�with leaf size becoming larger and internode length shortening. Small, stunted growth under high light is usually the result of too lean nutrient conditions, as this is a very macronutrient hungry plant (NO3 of 10 ppm or more and PO4 of 1 ppm or more for exceptionally large, lush growth). It reacts to a sudden lack of nitrate by turning transparent and melting away. Phosphate deficiencies result in very dark green, compact plants. Iron and micronutrient deficiencies result in white creases or black edging on the leaves.

H. zosterifolia is a very maleable plant, responding well to pruning the tops off and leaving the rooted portions. With this treatment, stargrass produces a profusion of new side shoots which results in very dense, bushy growth. If allowed to grow along the surface, the plant often produces beautiful blue flowers.

This plant is popularly used in both Dutch and Nature Aquarium style layouts�and for good reason. It is often pruned short as a foreground plant, allowed to grow tall as a background plant, or pruned as a midground hedge or street. It is a highly recommended, aesthetically pleasing plant for the aquascape.

Photo #2: US and International Copyright 2004 by Eric Lui All Rights Reserved.

Photo #3: Flowers US and International Copyright 2010 by Michael Teesdale All Rights Reserved