Can Java Fern Grow Out Of Water? Everything You NEED TO KNOW!

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If you’ve ever had a home aquarium, you’re probably familiar with Java fern. Java fern is a trendy fish tank plant due to its ease of care and attractive appearance in your tank. 

However, not everyone is able to have Java fern in their fish tanks. This may be because of lack of space, or perhaps they simply don’t have a fish tank anymore but love the plant. 

The good news is that you actually don’t need a fish tank to grow Java fern! You can indeed grow Java fern out of water. 

To do so successfully, you have to pay careful attention to it and give it lots of love and care.

To learn more about how to grow a Java fern out of the water, as well as other aquarium plants you can grow outside of water, read below!

How To Grow A Java Fern Out Of Water

Growing a Java fern out of water actually isn’t as difficult as you may think. Really, the trick is to keep it in the presence of water without fully submerging it.

To grow a Java fern, you’ll have to (*):

  1. Purchase a small Java fern with some established roots
  2. Tie the base of the fern to a rock using thin twine
  3. Submerge only the base (attached to the rock) in water
  4. Wait for the root system to grow over the rock and dissolve the twine
  5. Keep the root system and rhizomes submerged to keep the plant alive
  6. Enjoy your new Java fern!

Because Java ferns are aquatic, they still need to sit in some water to thrive. Otherwise, they’ll dry out and die quickly.

The root system and rhizomes always need to be in the water to keep the plant healthy. In case you missed this day in science class, rhizomes are new plant stems that bud out of the fern’s root system. 

Basically, they’re baby fern stems!

Water is the only way to keep them hydrated and give them the nutrients they need. Your plant’s water should be fresh water and preferably be oxygenated. 

It’s important to note that your Java fern will also need some special nutrients since they won’t be in a tank with fish. Normally, the waste fish produce helps feed the plant, but out of water you’ll have to feed the plant yourself.

Buy a liquid fertilizer with iron, nitrogen, phosphorus, and manganese. You’ll want to use it sparingly as too much of a good thing can actually be harmful to your Java fern. 

Beyond submerging the roots and rhizomes in water, make sure the rest of your Java fern is kept humid as well. Misting regularly or providing a humidifier will keep your Java fern hydrated and healthy as it grows. 

Other Aquarium Plants That Can Be Grown Out Of Water

Java ferns aren’t the only types of aquarium plants that can be grown out of water. Other plants that can grow out of water include:

  • Anubias
  • Water wisteria
  • Water sprite
  • Echinodorus

To learn more about these beautiful aquatic plants, take a look below. 


Anubias plants are a great addition to any tank or indoor garden. There are many different kinds of Anubias, but they are all known for their lush, dark green leaves that make them attractive household plants. 

Because they can grow to a height of around 10cm, it’s easy to grow them out of the water if you know how to care for them properly. (*)

Just like Java ferns, Anubias don’t like lots of light and they love water. You can use growing media for aquatic plants as their base, as the nutrient-dense media will help them grow. 

Or, you can tie them to a rock or wood the same way you would a Java fern, as long as you also feed them using liquid fertilizer. 

However, they’re incredibly simple and don’t require much care, as long as you give them the occasional fertilizer and keep them moist with a water base and mist at all times. 

Water Sprite

Water Sprite is one of the most common freshwater aquarium plants in the world. It is known for its versatility and its quick growth.

Because it is so easily available at pet stores, some have wondered if it can grow emersed (aka, not immersed in water). Just like the Java fern and Anubias, it can!

Water Sprites can grow the same way out of the water as the other plants discussed. As long as the base and rhizomes are kept in water, your Water Sprite will grow bushy and full in no time. 

It’s important to note that Water Sprites prefer slightly more light than Java ferns or Anubias. Though too much light can still burn and wilt them, Water Sprites do enjoy some indirect sunlight, as opposed to the other species which prefer little to no light. 

Let your Water Sprite root in gentle substrates like sand or gravel to anchor it. Make sure water is present and that your roots aren’t too buried, as they break easily and this could lead to stunted plant growth. 

Water Wisteria

Water Wisteria, which is somewhat similar to Water Sprites, is a great plant to grow out of water. It’s hardy and undemanding like many of these other species, which makes it a great choice for an aquarium plant.

Water Wisteria needs its roots and rhizomes submerged in water just like the other species on this list. However, you may see differences in your Water Wisteria than others.

This plant is known to be a bit of a chameleon. It’s known for its ability to take on many forms, so the water quality, pH, and fertilizer you provide it may change its appearance somewhat. 

Either way, it’s a great addition to your inside garden!

Now You Grow

Now, you know how to grow Java Fern outside of water, as well as many other aquarium species! This saves you space and money, because it means you don’t need an aquarium just for your favorite plants. 

Whether you pick a Java fern, an Anubias, or a water sprite, take great care of your beloved plant. These species thrive best in wet environments, so you’ll have to keep them humid to keep them happy and healthy.

If you’ve ever raised an aquarium plant outside of water, tell us about your experiences below. If you have a home aquarium question, leave it below and we might write about yours next!

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