Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Water Lettuce
Pistia stratiotes

Family: Araceae (a-RAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Pistia (PEES-tee-uh) (Info)
Species: stratiotes (stra-tee-OH-tees) (Info)

Synonym:Pistia minor
Synonym:Pistia crispata

13 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden

Ponds and Aquatics

under 6 in. (15 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens
May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
Plant is viviparous

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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There are a total of 27 photos.
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8 positives
3 neutrals
6 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative cocoa_lulu On Jul 27, 2011, cocoa_lulu from Grand Saline, TX (Zone 7b) wrote:

Texans Beware: water lettuce has been become a Class B Parks and Wildlife Code Misdemeanor and illegal to own, grow, sell, or transport in Texas. With fines of not less than $200 or more than $2000 (per plant) a jail term not to exceed 180 days, or both a fine AND imprisonment. For more and updated information, visit

Negative priy91 On Apr 24, 2011, priy91 from chennai
India wrote:

i tried very hard to keep them flourishing in ma garden...but to no avail... is there any conditions for the plants to thrive??? i want to grow them very badly...but they won grow...:( pl lemme know asap..

Positive jessicamcguire On Aug 25, 2010, jessicamcguire from Hinton, WV wrote:

I have this plant in our pond since the beginning of the summer. I started with three of them from the pet store. Now there are about 100 or more in there. They are so pretty. We had a really bad algae problem because our pond is located directly in the sunlight, so we shopped around and found these pisitia. They have cured the algae problem. Our fish love them. We have coi, goldfish, israeli carp, and creek chubs all living together in there and the israeli carp LOVE the flower on the inside! They come out of the water to get to it. I'm very pleased with how it's turned out. I just wanted to save some over the winter for next year. Maybe I will try one in a standing vase with a beta and see if it lives.

Negative vossner On Feb 9, 2009, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Illegal in TX

Positive WUVIE On Sep 26, 2007, WUVIE from Hulbert, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Before you put this in your pond, be sure you have time
to take out the offspring.

We've grown many things in our gardens and ponds, but have
never seen anything multiply as fast as Pistia stratiotes.

Thankfully, it makes great compost. It keeps the fish shaded,
the water clear and is not bad looking.

Good for the ponds, but one must keep it in check.

Negative frostweed On Dec 19, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Water Lettuce Pistia stratiotes is native to Texas and other States and is considered an invasive noxious plant, and is prohibited in Texas.

Positive stackwood On Sep 10, 2006, stackwood from Lascassas, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

I've not had good fortune with water plants, but the water lettuce has held up against the overwhelming odds in my semi-shade little garden (childern, dogs, chickens...). My biggest problem is, I get lots & lots of daughter plants, but the larger mothers have disappeared. Finally realized my goldfish were enjoying them - a lot! I've isolated some in floating baskets to see if I can get some larger specimines.
Have not had these long, but will try & overwinter some - why not? I'll report back on success or no...

Positive catcollins On Mar 2, 2006, catcollins from West Friendship, MD (Zone 6b) wrote:

This is the perfect pond cover plant in central Maryland. They spread quickly and are much easier to control than water hyacinth. The babies are not as easily broken off, so fewer end up in the skimmer. Once they get going, you will have to thin them several times or they'll complete with the water lillies. They're happy wherever you place them - in a streambed, perched in the middle of a waterfall, or tucked between the stalks of taller water plants. They do not flower, however. They are not hardy here and must be pulled after the first hard frost, but do not allow them to escape into waterways in the summer. No one I know has had success overwintering these indoors.

Negative Alocasiaaddict On Dec 1, 2004, Alocasiaaddict from Interlachen, FL wrote:

This plant is a danger to warm areas. It reproduces exponetionally and reduces the oxygen levels in a body of water by reducing the water's surface area. Not to mention clogging rivers and waterways. Its only natural predator, the Manatee is not capaple of keeping it in check.

Positive vanislegirl On Jul 17, 2004, vanislegirl from Courtenay
Canada wrote:

This plant is thriving here in my pond on central Vancouver Island, Canada (off the West Coast, above Washington State). They are having lots of babies - my plants started as babies that my mom gave me from her water gardens. I will let you know about their wintering over here in the north!

Neutral Monocromatico On Mar 13, 2004, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

If introduced to optimal conditions, this plant can block water ways, and will ban natural species from their habitat. But on closed ponds and fountains, this is a beautiful addition, and fishes seem to like swimming around its roots.

Neutral Thaumaturgist On Jan 7, 2004, Thaumaturgist from Rockledge, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Here in Florida, they seem to thrive during the summer. The growth rate is almost exponential.

They barely survive the cold weather and totally vanish
at near-freezing temperatures. But by next spring, they seem to appear out of no where and then gradually take

The only other thing that has a greater growth rate is the
Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes).

Negative Kelli On Jan 7, 2004, Kelli from L.A. (Canoga Park), CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

This plant can barely survive the hot sun in our yard. Then what is left after summer, the winter finishes off.

Positive MollyMc On Jan 3, 2004, MollyMc from Archer/Bronson, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I keep this plant in my stillwater vase (huge) to oxygenated for the guppies. The lettuce will multiply quickly and I move them to the larger goldfish pond. The goldfish will munch on the lettuce when hungry. This keeps the lettuce from overtaking the pond. It also helps shade the pond to reduce build up of algae.

Positive mystic On Aug 31, 2002, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

This plant really multiplies fast great for fast pond cover.

Positive tiG On Aug 31, 2002, tiG from Newnan, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Will help eat the extra nutrients in your pond that feed green algae. Remove yellow leaves and add to the compost pile. Divide babies from mother for faster growth.

Neutral Terry On Aug 4, 2001, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

A floating oxygenator, Pistia stratiotes provides oxygen to fish and helps keep pond water clear.

Take care to ensure the plants do not escape into any nearby bodies of fresh water, as they are considered a noxious invasive weed, posing a threat to waterways.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Smiths, Alabama
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Bartow, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Miami, Florida
Orange Springs, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Venus, Florida
Hawkinsville, Georgia
Olney, Maryland
Mohawk, New York
Cleveland, Ohio
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Vieques, Puerto Rico
Lascassas, Tennessee
Richmond, Texas
Beckley, West Virginia
Hinton, West Virginia

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