Mini Asian Water Fern, El Niño Fern
Bolbitis heteroclita 'Difformis'
Bolbitis heteroclita ‘Difformis’ is a miniature aquatic fern that grows well terrestrially too. Originating from the Philippines, this versatile little fern will only reach a few inches tall but can form a low growing carpet if given enough time. Being an aquatic fern from the tropics, its not surprising that it likes a high degree of moisture and humidity to thrive. The small, delicate fronds give it a herb-like appearance. It’s great for adding soft texture to a terrarium, and filling up areas where you can’t fit a full-sized plant (e.g. under branches or between rocks).
At a Glance
Where to Buy Bolbitis heteroclita "Difformis"
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Terrarium Plant Guide
Bolbitis heteroclita "Difformis" Care & Growth
Bolbitis heteroclita doesn’t require a great deal of light to grow, and direct sunlight can quickly out its delicate leaves. It should do just fine in most low light terrarium environments.
Considering this fern is often sold as an aquatic plant, it surprisingly doesn’t need to be constantly saturated with water. In fact, it really doesn’t like to partially submerged in water. Like many other terrarium plants; it’ll thrive with regular, even moisture.
Bolbitis heteroclita ‘Difformis’ is a versatile plant, but depending on the environment it can be a little fussy with its planting . Thankfully, it’s most forgiving when planted terrestrially. It should grow well in a substrate that can retain plenty of moisture but also provide good drainage. The rhizome is susceptible to rot if submerged in water for prolonged periods of time.
Temperature & Humidity
Bolbitis heteroclita ‘Difformis‘ grows best in terrariums with high humidity and a high temperature. Similar to its original environment in the tropical islands of the Philippines.
As a dwarf variety, Bolbitis heteroclita ‘Difformis‘ grows very slowly and won’t grow taller than 4 inches. It tends to grow wide rather than tall, making it perfect carpeting plant for smaller terrariums.
This fern can be easily propagated by splitting the horizontal rhizome, or simply cutting off daughter plants.
Varieties & Similar Plants
Bolbitis heteroclita ‘Difformis’ is the dwarf version of a family of aquatic ferns. Bolbitis heudelotii is the larger and more commonly sold aquatic variety that’s not seen in terrariums.
People often mistakenly treat this fern like an aquatic fern, and either plant it in a pool of water or simply over-water it. In a terrarium, it should never sit in stagnant water or it will quickly rot.