Water Lettuces are small, lovely tropical aquatic plants that float on top of water in ponds and water tubs. They are pretty widespread in the tropics, and can be widely found in Thailand. Their scientific/Latin name is “Pistia Stratiotes L”.
Throughout the years, I’ve seen these lovely tropical aquatic plants in various garden ponds and large water containers in front of homes and shops in Thailand, and wondered what they are, and how do they grow?
It wasn’t until I bought these plants from a vendor in Bangkok, that I was able to observe Water Lettuces up-close in my garden. Water lettuces are like round green flowers (whose appearances resemble small round lettuces) that float atop the surfaces of water in ponds or large water containers.
The plants have long, soft roots under water that also serve as an anchor to balance the floating plants, similar to the roots of water hyacinths, another tropical aquatic plant.
Water lettuces are very carefree plants that thrive in ponds or in sufficiently large, water-filled pots or containers. The size of the watertight pots or containers should be sufficiently large and deep to accomodate the underwater growth of the plants’ roots. Interestingly, it seems that the plants become particularly large and green during the ample moisture of the rainy (wet monsoon) season, and their sizes decline somewhat during the dry season.
Based upon my experience, water lettuces are best kept in partial shade, as exposure to extended periods of full sun will cause the leaf colors to turn yellowish, thereby losing their lush green color. When kept in partial shade, the plants appear to grow more profusely and develop attractive, green leaves.
Propagation is very simple, as small plantlets will soon appear on the sides of the bases of healthy parent plants. These can soon be separated and grown elsewhere to form new clusters. Water lettuces thrive in the waters of wet, tropical environments and tend to multiply quite rapidly under suitable conditions – particularly during the humid, rainy (wet monsoon) season.
Soon, you will have plenty of plantlets to share with other avid gardeners and friends! In addition to their popularity in the gardens and homes in Bangkok, water lettuces can be found in wide areas of Thailand, mostly in ponds or relatively slow-flowing canals.
Happy Gardening, wherever you are, and wherever you may be!
Lat (Ratasit C.)