Yes, you can grow your own Water Chestnuts … and it’s pretty easy

What is a Water Chestnut?


Well, this a water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis).  It’s native to Asia and grown all over the world for it’s crunchy sweet underwater corms.

Have I eaten Water Chestnut?

Yes, most likely.  It’s the crunchy sweet stuff in your Chinese stir fry.

Should I eat it raw?

Probably not, you can get a nasty parasite from it.  I have though (before I knew about the parasite) and it tastes a bit like a crunchy sweet apple.

Should I grow it in a pond/lake?

Definitely not.  These are highly invasive.  Please keep them in a container, far away from any open waters.

How do I go about growing them?

Pretty simple.  You can get them in most Asian stores for about 20-25 cents each.

1) First you need to sprout them

  • Put them in a bowl of water
  • Change the water daily
  • Locate them in a sunny spot (they will sprout faster)

waterchestnutbowl2) After they have sprouted some green shoots and roots you are ready to plant them.

  • Fill a large container with 3 to 4 inches of dirt (they seem to like all kinds of dirt).
  • Plant the chestnuts in the dirt.
  • Add another 2 to 3 inches of water to the container.  The green shoots need to stick out of the water.
  • Watch them grow.

waterchestnutcontainerIt’s actually that easy.

What about mosquitoes?

Good question and we have a solution for that too:

  • Get some mosquito dunks – these don’t hurt anything but the mosquitoes
  • Get a betta fish (or similar) – these will feast on the mosquito larva and will be much happier in your chestnut container than in those little fish containers.  Just remember that these are tropical fish, you need to bring them inside when it gets cold.
  • Replace the water every week or so.  You can use it to water your garden!


Here is a video if you would like more information.

5 thoughts on “Yes, you can grow your own Water Chestnuts … and it’s pretty easy”

  1. Since there’s no holes in container, when it rains and fills the tub, will all the sludge wash out? Do you fertilize? Use lime, etc? How many croms in your bucket? Did it fill it up?

    • I have a little plastic hose as a siphon for when the water gets too high. I have not fertilized, but water chestnuts are very hardy, so I would imagine adding some compost would be fine. My dirt seem to settle to the bottom (clay soil around here).

  2. Thanks so much for this. I can’t find any advice about whether the plants should be in full sun, or shade, or half and half. I imagine dappled shade would be similar to the bank of a stream. Any advice would be appreciated.

  3. The culinary, or Chinese water chestnut, is not an invasive species. It’s actually an annual. It’s also a sedge, or rush, type plant. The proper botanical name is Eleocharis dulcis. E. dulcis is a subtropical species having tall, grass-like, narrow leaves, from 18″ to slightly over 3′ in height. This plant can’t survive the winters in most of the US and Canada, excepting in US Zone 9 and possibly some parts of Zone 8.

    But there is a highly invasive plant that is also called Water Chestnut. It is the common name that causes some confusion. The invasive plant is Trapa natans. A European import. It looks nothing like a sedge – instead, it’s a fast growing surface floater.

    Found throughout NY state, and other areas and now making inroads into NJ, the European water chestnut was Introduced in the 1800’s. T. natans can easily clog waterways when its numbers are high enough. It has dense roots, robust, widespread whorls of toothed, triangular leaves, with thick, spongy, air filled petioles, which keep the plant afloat. Stems and roots are reddish and it can be quite decorative, in small numbers. It’s unusual appearance and colour is likely why it was imported to start with, but like so many other imports, it escaped and made itself far too much at home.

    E. dulcis prefers a rich, wet soil with plenty of organic matter & plenty of sun. Commercially, it’s often grown in rice paddies, in-between crops of rice, as well as in other types of fields.

    There are named E. dulcis cultivars, if you want to look for them. Some can be purchased online, just be sure the cultivar is intended for cooking. Many of the varieties grown are used for starch or animal feeds, not for our tables.


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