Gratiola viscidula Short’s Hedgehyssop
An stunning and unique carpeting plant that grows especially well when tied to rocks and driftwood.
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Size: Seldom taller than 5 cm
Native Range: Southeastern United States
Position and Use: Carpet to bushy foreground ‘hedge’. Also usable in vivarium
Growth Rate: Moderate to fast with CO2; may require time to become acclimated and established
Lighting: 3/5 - 5/5
Water Conditions: Highly adaptable, but prefers soft and slightly acidic to neutral (pH of 6 - 7) and temperatures from 18 - 28°C
CO2: Beneficial but not required
Reproduction: Stem cuttings
Special Requirements: Appreciates rich substrate if planted but can also be tied to rocks or driftwood where it will eventually attach itself and grow as an epiphyte
Emersed Growth: Can be grown emersed or partially emersed in terrariums, Wabi Kusa or a paludarium. Emersed form is somewhat more compact and robust in appearance than it's featherier submerged appearance.
Native to the Carolinas and common among the margins and shallows of freshwater bodies, Gratiola viscidula is a relative newcomer to most aquarium hobbyists. It is both low-growing and robust, and with regular trimming can create a unique carpet of green in the foreground. The higher the lighting, the shorter and denser the plant will be; it may even crawl along the substrate in dramatic whorls. When pruned infrequently, it adopts a more upright posture and can be grown to resemble garden hedges, true to its nickname “Short’s Hedge Hyssop.” Moreover, Gratiola stems are unique among aquatic plants: smaller, serrated leaves grow around a broad stem, enhancing its spiky, hedge-like appearance. Although this newcomer is wonderfully rewarding, it demands a nutrient-rich substrate more often found in older, well-established tanks. New setups that lack these reserves would benefit greatly from substrate fertilization (i.e. the addition of root capsules). Nevertheless, it is an extremely unique plant that will complement the more traditional foliage of most aquascapes and is worth a try regardless of experience or tank maturity.