Bolbitis heteroclita ‘Difformis’ – The Mini Aquatic Fern

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, it’s 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).

Mini Bolbitis Heteroclita

Where to Buy Bolbitis heteroclita “Difformis”

See the links below to purchase from reputable terrarium plant shops and marketplaces (may include affiliate links). 

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Bolbitis heteroclita “Difformis” Care & Growth

Plant TypeFern, epiphyte
LightingLow – medium indirect light
Temperature65-80°F (18-26°C)
WateringRegular, even moisture
HumidityHigh humidity (60-90%)
Growth2-4 inches


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 be partially submerged in water. Like many other closed 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 a 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.

Common Problems

People often mistakenly treat this fern-like plant 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.