Eleocharis vivipara (long hair grass or the umbrella hairgrass) is an aquatic plant in the sedge family, Cyperaceae, that gets its name from the long hairs on its leaves. They grow quickly in warm, shallow water and reproduce easily by way of small seeds that it disperses by air and water currents.
Native to tropical Asia and Africa, Long Hair Grass is an easy plant to care for when it comes to water parameters and light requirements, but make sure to check if it’s compatible with your fish before you add it to your tank!
An alternative to the traditional Japanese long hair grass plant, Eleocharis vivipara, also called the umbrella hairgrass, comes in three different varieties with varied foliage and growth patterns. Eleocharis vivipara ‘Aurea’ features golden leaves with green edges and stems and reaches a maximum height of about 10-12 inches after one year of growth.
If you’re wondering how to care for Eleocharis vivipara, this species profile will tell you everything you need to know about this plant, including its natural habitat, care tips, and more. You’ll also learn about related varieties and species of Eleocharis that are popular in aquariums and terrariums today!
Origin and descriptions
Eleocharis vivipara is a genus of plants that contains two known species, which are both commonly referred to as long hair grass. This flowering plant can be found throughout Southeast Asia and other areas, including India, Australia, China, and Japan. It’s typically found in shallow waters or along riverbanks. This type of grass grows upright stems with tiny flowers growing directly off them. Because these flowers are so small, they’re often overlooked.
The color of each flower depends on what type of long hair grass you’re looking at; some may feature purple, blue, green, red, yellow, or orange petals. After blooming for about four weeks out of every year, these types of grasses die back to their roots during the winter months.
Species profile of the long hair grass
Eleocharis vivipara, also known as long hair grass or water chestnut, is a grass-like plant that reproduces through both sexual and asexual means. This plant grows in shallow waters across temperate regions of Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America. They have a slender rhizome that can grow up to 3 feet tall. The leaves of long hair grass are usually divided into sharp segments; they range from dark green to silvery-white in color.
From early spring to late summer, long hair grass produces clusters of white flowers along its stalks. Most individuals produce fruits during early autumn before dying back over winter; however, some populations produce seeds year-round.
In cooler climates, these two strategies may be used together over the course of one growing season. Some studies suggest that Eleocharis vivipara may aid in reducing pollution by eliminating excess nutrients and trapping other contaminants like DDT and methylmercury.
Eleocharis vivipara height
As suggested by its name, this plant species can grow to over 20 inches (51+ cm) in height.
Eleocharis vivipara propagation
Eleocharis vivipara is an aquatic plant that should be grown in aquariums. A propagation technique must be used to get new plants. You can grow long hair grass from rhizomes or tubers. Rhizomes are white roots of aquatic plants which store food produced by photosynthesis. Tubers are modified rhizomes that stay dormant during dry seasons and create shoots when wetted again.
Collect a piece of rhizome with at least one node. Cut it into smaller pieces and place them inside small tubes filled with water, just enough to cover them completely. Place them near your filter so they get plenty of light and circulate water well around them. After a few days you will notice some nodes have sprouted some leaves; when they do, take them out and separate each one in its own tube containing water as before.
You might need many weeks until all your segments grow outshoots. When new ones appear, start taking them out every two or three days and replant in individual tubes filling up with water as needed; doing so helps speed up growth since all their energy goes into growing new stems rather than enlarging existing ones. Water quality shouldn’t be much of a problem, but if ammonia builds up quickly on the surface, then reduce feeding for a while until it settles down.
Eleocharis vivipara care
Long hair grass can be an attractive choice for a small aquarium, but it can also be a bit finicky. Due to its slow growth rate, you should trim it regularly if you want it to look its best.
The ideal water temperature for long hair grass is between 65-70 degrees F. It needs lots of sunlight and requires very soft water. You may also want to place your aquarium against a window as long hair grass thrives when exposed to indirect sunlight.
Plant long hair grass in full sun to partial shade conditions, in well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. In addition to warm climates, long hair grass does best in wet conditions.
Plant some Java moss at its base to make it stand out even more. Long hair grass needs plenty of space too. In fact, I’d recommend putting two large pots together just so that there’s enough room for all that healthy green leaves to expand properly! If you take good care of it, long hair grass will reward you with many years of enjoyment.
Long hair grass light requirements
Eleocharis vivipara, long hair grass, is a low light level, low demand plant that does well under fluorescent lighting. It can handle some direct sunlight, but too much will burn its leaves. For best results with Eleocharis vivipara, place it near a window that faces south or west. You can increase humidity by misting it several times a week. If you notice brown spots on your plant’s leaves, it means they need more water immediately.
The plant is capable of growing in a wide range of substrates, including mud, silt, sand, and even gravel. Since it is a particularly hardy plant that grows quickly in both still and running water, long hair grass does not require a substrate with any special composition of nutrients to grow.
In fact, it can be propagated from cuttings over many mediums such as soil or sand. As long as there is sufficient sunlight for photosynthesis, Eleocharis vivipara will grow almost anywhere.
Long Hair grass is a heavy feeder, so be sure to fertilize it on a regular basis. It responds well to liquid fertilizer. I recommend either Miracle Grow or SeaChem Excel. Do not over-fertilize your plant as it can rot if you use too much fertilizer. To apply fertilizer, mix half the strength of what’s recommended for a plant with lower light requirements.
As an example for long hair grass, if one was mixing half strength for African Violets that have low light requirements, then use 1/4 strength of what’s suggested for similar plants with lower light requirements.
This plant thrives best within the temperature range of 20-25°C (68-77°F).
Eleocharis vivipara is an aquatic plant that prefers water conditions with high levels of humidity. The ideal humidity range is 50%-90%. When growing long hair grass indoors or in outdoor containers, make sure to properly maintain adequate humidity around your plants for best results.
Eleocharis vivipara trimming
The grass-like appearance of Eleocharis vivipara means that trimming should be kept to a minimum. Use small shears to trim away any frayed or overgrown pieces of stem, however, it is worth noting that these plants will spread very quickly if they aren’t trimmed. If you leave them to their own devices, they can cover large areas of land within a short space of time.
Keep in mind that older parts of the plant are more fibrous than younger stems and so will tear more easily when being trimmed. As such, always use sharp tools when cutting your plant back – failure to do so could lead to tearing which may result in infection entering your plant from open wounds.
Umbrella hairgrass growth rate
The growth rate will vary depending on how much light, water, and food it is given, but generally speaking, you can expect grass to grow about 12 inches per year if properly cared for. If your growth rate seems unusually slow, give them plenty of sunlight and make sure they are getting enough nutrients from fertilizer in their water supply.
USDA hardiness zones
Long hair grass is a perennial that grows in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 11. It prefers areas with low humidity but can tolerate temperatures as low as -10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pests and diseases of the umbrella hairgrass
Long hair grass, while generally considered an easy plant to keep, can fall prey to a variety of fungal and bacterial infections. Though many are minor issues, they may require isolation or treatment if left unchecked. Some of these diseases are:
- Fungal Infections Fusarium root rot
– Symptoms: Velvety/tan/brown patches near the base of roots/rhizome;
– Solution: Remove affected leaves as soon as you notice them. Once roots are infected, the entire plant must be removed from the aquarium.