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How to Grow Fittonia — Nerve Plant


Fittonia–commonly called nerve plant– is also called mosaic plant for its intricate mosaic pattern of prominent veins in shades of red, white, or silver. Fittonia is low-growing and very temperamental with regard to humidity.

Fittonia grows mounded or creeping to about 6 inches (15cm) tall. It is best displayed in a hanging basket. It is also a good choice for terrarium growing. In tropical or subtropical regions, it can be grown as a groundcover in semi-shaded situations.

Fittonia is a genus of 2 species of evergreen perennials. They are freely rooting with mat-forming stems. Fittonia is native to tropical rain forests in South America, mainly Peru.

Get to Know Fittonia

  • Plant type: Tropical evergreen perennial
  • Growing Zones and range: Zones 14-15
  • Hardiness: Needs day and night temperatures at least 65°F (18°C)
  • Optimal growing temperature: day 70° to 80°F (21°-17°C), night 62° to 68°F (17°-20°C).
  • Light: Medium to low light; the direct sun can damage its leaves
  • Height and width: 6 inches (15cm) tall and as wide or wider; low-growing creeping and trailing plant
  • Foliage: Veined leaves in red, pink, silver, and green
  • Flowers: Thin spikes of insignificant white to reddish whte flowers
  • Uses: Houseplant, containers, terrariums, groundcover in the garden
  • Common name: Fittonia, nerve plant, mosaic plant
  • Botanical name: Fittonia verschaffeltii
  • Family: Acanthaceae
  • Origin: South America, mainly Peru

Where to Plant Fittonia

  • Grow Fittonia in low light; nerve plant grows well under fluorescent lights.
  • Grow Fittonia in African violet mix.
Nerve plant, Fittonia
Nerve plant, Fittonia

How to Water and Feed Fittonia

  • Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy.
  • High humidity is important to keep the plant from dying. Set the plant on a tray with pebbles and water.
  • Fertilize nerve plant monthly with half-strength, all-purpose fertilizer.

Fittonia Care

  • Pinch growing tips of nerve plant regularly to keep the plant full.
  • Discard plants that become scraggly with age.

Growing Fittonia as a Houseplant

  • Give Fittonia limited to bright light or grow under fluorescent light.
  • Provide medium to high humidity and a warm temperature.
  • Fittonia is suitable for a terrarium which will keep the humidity high.
  • Keep the potting mix moderately moist; allow it to dry only slightly between waterings.
  • Fertilize Fittonia regularly throughout the year.

Fittonia Pests and Diseases

  • Fittonia is susceptible to bacterial and fungal leaf spots and root rots.

Fittonia Propagation

  • Propagate by root stem or tip cuttings in moist sand.

Fittonia Varieties to Grow

  • Fittonia verscafeltii. Creeping perennial with oval to elliptic, olive-green leaves 2 to 4 inches long, with slightly sunken, carmine-red veins; grows to 6 inches tall; var. argyoneura ‘Nana’ is easy to grow.

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