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How to Trim Java Fern and Make it Grow Better

How to Trim Java Fern and Make it Grow Better

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Java ferns can make your aquarium really attractive, but they can also become a problem if they are not trimmed regularly.

Don’t let what makes your tank striking become the reason you have to redo it completely.


How to Trim Java Fern

To trim Java fern, a sharp pair of scissors is needed, so that the cuts will be clean and not bruise the plant. Lower the water level so that the plant can be reached more easily. Dead leaves are removed first, then some larger leaves may be trimmed. It is also necessary to remove some smaller shoots, to contain the growth of the plant.


Trimming a Java Fern

When you trim a Java fern in water, you must use scissors and not a knife, or you will not be able to make the cut easily and it will not be as efficient as it should be.

Any time you cut the plant, you must use a very sharp blade, so that the cut is clean and the plant is not bruised.

Cutting a plant in an aquarium is relatively awkward, so you should plan to trim the Java fern when you are doing a water change. Lower the water to at least half the normal capacity and then you can reach the plant.

If you try to cut it when the tank is full, you may damage the fern, or surrounding plants, or even the inhabitants of the tank. Rather be sure that you can reach the plant easily and trim it gently.

You can choose to use a rubber glove pair when you do this.

Begin by removing all the dead leaves from the plant. They may not actually rot but will get in the way of the plant and are unsightly in an aquarium.

Remove some of the bigger leaves, but look at what the whole plant looks like before you trim any more of the longer leaves.

When you actually trim the leaves, hold the leaf you are cutting with your non-dominant hand. When you’ve cut a leaf, throw it away, unless you want to use it to propagate new plants.

Move the longer leaves and find the younger shoots below. Cut some of the younger shoots to contain the growth of the plant a bit.


What Part of the Java Fern to Trim

You can trim both the leaves and roots of the plant. Trimming the roots is not as common as trimming the leaves, though.

Rather than trim the root, it is likely you will actually cut it quite specifically.

If you want to divide a larger plant, so that you can move one part to another section of the aquarium, or even put it into a new aquarium, you can simply cut the rhizome.

It should only be cut when it gets quite long. Cut it into two pieces, each of which must have a few leaves growing from it.

To allow the new plant to grow, make sure that you bury the roots in the substrate in the tank and the rhizome and leaves are exposed.


Why Java Ferns Need Trimming

A plant is usually trimmed for three reasons: to get rid of dead leaves, keep the plant from growing too big, or propagate the plant. A Java fern is no different.

Getting rid of the dead leaves helps to keep the whole plant healthy and the tank more attractive. Keeping the plant from growing too big can help to ensure it doesn’t take over the tank.

Removing the young ferns from the ends of the leaves is the first step in propagating the plant. Some old leaves can be planted in the substrate at the bottom of the tank and allowed to grow roots.

If the rhizome is cut, it can be encouraged to grow into two (or more) new plants, which essentially keeps the parent alive.

After the plant has been trimmed, it will grow new shoots, although this may take a while. These shoots will be leaves and roots.


What a Java Fern is

Java fern is part of the fern family and is a popular plant used in aquariums. It is quite hardy and is an attractive addition to any tank.


Where Java Ferns Grow

The Java fern is native to southeastern Asia, in countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. This area has a warm, generally humid climate, which suits the fern.

In its natural environment, the Java fern grows either completely, or partially submerged.

This means it is a good plant to grow in your aquarium. In fact, as an aquatic plant, the Java fern has been growing in the Americas for nearly 100 years.

You can actually grow Java Ferns completely in water, partially in water, or completely out of water.

If the plant is out of the water, you must keep it really moist, preferably in a humid environment, such as your bathroom.


Java Fern Roots: What They’re Like

A Java fern has a rhizome root system. This means that it has strong roots, with main shoots (rhizomes), from which the other, thinner anchor roots grow.

The leaves of the fern also grow from the rhizome.


Frequently Asked Questions about How to Trim Java Fern


Why do I need to trim my Java fern?

If a Java fern grows too big, it can take over an aquarium, which will eventually block the light and get in the way of the other plants and inhabitants of the tank. The way to prevent this is to trim the plant quite regularly.


Do I have to remove my Java fern from the tank to rim it?

If you remove the Java fern from the tank to trim it, you will disturb the anchor roots and may harm the plant. Rather plan to trim your plant when you do a water change.


What do I do with the leaves when I have trimmed the Java fern?

When you cut the larger leaves of the Java fern, throw away any that are dead. You may keep some of the living leaves to cultivate new plants.



Trimming a Java fern is relatively easy, if you coincide with a water change in your aquarium, use a sharp pair of scissors and take care when you cut.

The trimming will make sure that the plant does not take over the tank and allow you to grow new ferns if possible.