One of the most compact potted plants for indoor spaces, the fittonia creates a big impact in a small package. A spreading evergreen plant, with delicately veined foliage in silvery white, the veins are so fine and intricate that they look like a network of spidery nerves, earning it the name of Nerve Plant. Its dramatic habit of drooping down as soon as the water level goes low in the planter and springing right back up when watered has earned it the nick name of the “Drama Queen” of the plant world.Fittonia is most commonly found with silvery-white veins, and it is typically grown as a potted plant, but it’s a spreader and if you want to grow it as a ground cover, your imagination is the only thing stopping you. The other common but well-loved varieties of the nerve plant come in red, pink, white, and green. It is grown majorly for its foliage, but if the plant is maintained well, it is known to bloom with reddish-yellow spikes.
Let’s take a detailed look at fittonia plant care-
Common name: Nerve plant, mosaic plant, fittonia, painted net leaf
Botanical name: Fittonia albivenis
Sunlight: Partial to bright indirect sunlight
Air: Well ventilated and moderately humid
Soil: Moist but very well-draining soil with organic matter. A mix of equal parts Ugaoo Pot-o-mix and garden soil, with a part of perlite works well.
Water: Always keep the soil moist, but not soggy. If the plant droops, water immediately.
Fertilisers: Once every two to three weeks
Issues: Leaf shedding, yellowing of leaves, pets like mealy bug, gnats, aphids
The fittonia is a low-growing tropical plant that readily grows in the cool bright shade of larger trees and loves a similar growing condition when grown at home. Don’t give your fittonia full sunlight but the brightest possible light through the day. They will also live in medium light, but the growth slow down considerably.
Fittonia does extremely well indoors in bright indirect light. Place them next to a natural light source like windows facing any direction. In case, you have a south or west-facing room, you can keep the plant anywhere in the room till its view of the window is not blocked.
The fittonia not only looks good in planters but are also great additions to terrariums that emulate their tropical forest environment. With their compact size and Ugaoo’s self-watering planter, they are great fit for study and worktable. The intricately patterned foliage provides visual relief and reduces fatigue, while improving productivity.
As stunning as the foliage is in it silver, white, pink, or red colour, the fittonia is a temperamental plant, expressing its displeasure on being low on water immediately. It requires constant humidity, so always keeping the soil moist is the only way out. Regularly mist your plants to prevent the leave from drying out but keep it well-ventilated to avoid infestations.
A constantly moist soil makes well-draining soil even more imperative to avoid root rot. Water your fittonia deeply and thoroughly every time you water it and water as soon as the topsoil dries out. The plant will start drooping to tell you that it needs more water but do not wait for the plant to droop every time, the repetitive dehydration shocks the plant and reduces its health eventually.
When watering an extremely dried out soil (visible cracks and soil leaving the planter walls) water in batches. Watering all at once allows the water to simply pass through the soil without getting absorbed.
Every time a plant is watered, water it thoroughly till you see some draining out of the drainage hole and always empty the under plate.
Do not plant your fittonia in too big a pot, since the soil needs to be always moist too much-retained water in excess soil can lead to root rot. Use a very well-draining soil mix. A smaller planter also ensures that much of the plant’s energy is devoted to leaf growth rather than growing roots to fill up the large planters.
Use a potting mix that I rich in organic matter and is also well-draining. If you do not want to complicate the process, you can use Ugaoo Pot-o-Mix as I from the packet or mix it with 25% Ugaoo red soil and use it for your fittonia plant.
Feed your Fittonia with a generic houseplant fertilizer every three weeks, diluted as instructed on the packaging. Fertilizing during the growing period of spring and summer is especially important, as they are slow growers, and the growing season must be capitalised upon.
Ensure that the fertilizers have the three major nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Ugaoo’s Plant Tonic and NPK are great options for both root and foliar applications.
PruningFittonias don’t require pruning of their ornamental foliage other than when you want to shape or trim your overgrown plant. You can pinch the growing tip of your plant (the tip and top two leaves) to promote branching in your fittonia and make them bushier.
Fittonia can be easily propagated with leaf tip cutting in early spring or summer. In a tropical country like India, they can be propagated all year round other than in harsh winters.
Take stem cuttings with at least 3 to 4 leaf nodes, remove the lower leaves to expose the leaf nodes and plant them in small 2–3-inch planters with well-draining potting mix. Use sharp cutting hears to take the cutting and cut at an angle.
Fittonia Plant Problems
- Yellowing leaves are a clear indication of too much water. Use a planter with large drainage holes and a well-draining potting mix. Water thoroughly when the topsoil I dry to touch and always empty the base plate.
- Leaf dropping is a clear sign of low humidity and cold air drafts. Keep the plant away from direct drafts from AC and windows and mist regularly to keep the micro-climate around the plant humid.
- Dry shrivelled leaves indicate low humidity or irregular watering when the plants have been kept dry for too long. If the issue I not addressed in time the drying will progress from leaf tips to stems, which will then have to be pruned.
- Mealy bug and aphids also cause distress to the plant. Spray the plant with neem oil solution every 15 days and keep the plant well-ventilated. The constantly moist soil also attracts fungus gnats, spray a pinch of cinnamon powder on the topsoil to keep them from coming especially in monsoon season.
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