Nerve Plants, a.k.a Fittonia plants, are eye-catching indoor plants. They are quite popular on Instagram because they are incredibly cute and they can be grown in hanging baskets, on tabletops, and in terrariums.
Since they are native to tropical rainforests in South America (Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and northern Brazil), Nerve Plants will thrive as long as you offer them similar conditions. But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that Fittonias require to transform your home into a steamy greenhouse. These herbaceous evergreen perennials grow well at room temperature and are ideally suited for the home environment.
Nerve Plants are beautiful tropical houseplants that have patterned leaves with pink, red, light green, or white veins. These colorful markings create a beautiful contrast with the dark green leaves. Due to the complex veined pattern, Fittonias are also called Mosaic Plants, Vein Plants, and Painted Net Plants.
About Nerve Plant
- Nerve Plants are easy to grow. They don’t need special conditions when it comes to light, water, and other issues of their daily care.
- You will love growing Nerve Plants due to their unique and stunning foliage. So, if you are looking for spectacular plants that will grow healthy and happy in any room, they are a perfect choice.
- The botanical name for the Nerve Plant is Fittonia albivenis and it belongs to the Acanthus family (Acanthaceae). The genus was named after two Irish sisters: Elizabeth and Sarah Fitton, whose wonderful illustrated book, Conversations on Botany, was first printed in 1817.
- The specific name albivenis signifies “white veins”. Common names for this type of Fittonia, including Nerve Plant, Silver threads, Silver net leaf, and Silver Fittonia. These names are illustrative of the intricate leaf veins of this lush tropical plant.
- You can find many different cultivars on the market and some of them have bright red or pink veins.
- Fittonia plants have an ornamental value and grow well in pots on your windowsill, in hanging baskets, or terrariums. If you live in a warmer clime, you can try to grow Nerve Plants outdoors.
- Fittonia plants thrive in well-draining moist potting soil that is rich in organic matter. Ideally, the temperatures should be between 16 and 26°C (60 – 80°F), medium light away from direct sunlight, and plenty of humidity.
- Mosaic Plants are not toxic to humans or pets.
Nerve Plant Features: An overview
- Nerve Plants reach about 15 cm (6 inches) in height. Their broad, ovate leaves are about 10 cm (4 inches) in length and are notable for their stunning vein networks.
- There is a wide variety of Fittonia plant cultivars that provide a wonderful assortment of different sizes and leaf coloring patterns to choose from.
- All Fittonia varieties have sumptuous, shiny green leaves, but it’s the complex vein patterns in different white, red, pink, or light green that make it possible for us to tell the varieties apart.
- Frankie Nerve Plants are unique for their lovely pink leaves with dark green edges.
- Pink Angel is a small Fittonia variety with beautiful pink leaves.
- White Anne Fittonias have white veins that stand out in contrast to the dark green leaf color.
- Juanita is a large-leaf Fittonia variety with intricate bright red markings.
- White Brocade is similar to Juanita, but its large leaves have white veins.
- Purple Vein is another large-leaf variety that’s light-lavender colored veins contrast against the dark green leaves.
- Ruby Red Fittonia plants feature variegated foliage that’s dark green with richly red-colored veins.
- Mini White Nerve Plants are small in size, featuring graceful green leaves with white veins.
- Superba Nerve Plants have large leaves that look brilliant. The vein patterns are distinctly seen and the veins are a sharp white color. These Nerve Plants grow up to 20 cm (8 inches) tall.
- Miniature Fittonia plants only grow 7.5 to 15 cm (3- 6 inches) tall. The larger types of Nerve Plants grow to between 30 and 45 cm (12 – 18 inches) tall.
- Fittonia plants will occasionally flower, although the buds are usually removed since the small, white, or red-tinged flowers are unremarkable compared to the spectacular foliage that they’re often considered a waste of the plant’s energy.
- It’s a good idea to put Mosaic Plants in a terrarium. The foliage looks gorgeous, and it’s a really rewarding thing to do a nice highlight in a room.
Growing Nerve Plant
Nerve Plants thrive in indirect sunlight or partial shade and they thrive in well-draining soil. The best temperatures for healthy growth range between 16 and 26°C (60 – 80°F).
Although Nerve Plants are easy to care for, there are a few things that you can do to keep the leaves brightly colored and healthy. The two key elements to consider when caring for a Nerve Plant are light and moisture.
Because they are tropical rainforest plants, Fittonia albivenis plants need high humidity and moist soil. You can raise the humidity levels by misting the leaves frequently.
Fittonia plants need low to medium light. In the wild, they grow on the ground in rainforests, where sunlight is minimal. So, the best places for growing Mosaic Plants are on north-facing windowsills, behind sheer curtains, or in corners away from direct sunlight.
If these plants receive too much sunlight their leaves will become burned and begin to wither. So, if you notice that your Nerve Plant’s leaves have brown patches and are crispy, move it to a location away from sunlight.
The best way to get the finest soil for a Nerve Plant is to find one that’s rich in organic matter. This type of medium will hold enough moisture without becoming soggy. Suitable soil types for Fittonias include peat-based or clay-based potting soil.
Watering Nerve Plants
As mentioned above, nerve plants need constant humidity in their soil to grow well indoors. When caring for Nerve Plants, the most common error is to let the soil dry out.
How can you know when the best time to water your Fittonia is? The optimal time to water your Nerve plant is when the top layer of soil has just become dry. Moisturize it until water starts to drain out at the bottom of the pot.
Remember that the area temperature will affect how quickly the soil dries out. So, if the room is warm, you may have to water your plant every other day.
The roots of Mosaic Plants need constant humidity, but too much moisture will cause root rot.
Using lukewarm water to prevent shock to the plant, fully wet the potting soil and allow it to drain completely.
The container for your Nerve Plant should allow water to drain out at the bottom. This is a vital growing requirement when it comes to watering your Fittonia.
If the leaves of your plant begin turning yellow and wilt, it’s a sign that you may be over-watering or that the soil is waterlogged due to poor drainage. If this is the case, you should repot your plant in fresh soil that provides better drainage, making sure to remove any soggy, damaged roots with clean gardening shears, and water your plant less frequently.
To properly care for any type of Fittonia plant, you’ll need to fertilize it occasionally with a regular houseplant fertilizer that has sufficient nutrients to keep your plants growing well. Feed your Nerve Plants once a month or every other month in the period of growth (spring and summer).
In late fall and in winter, you can stop feeding your plant because that’s when the plant is dormant and the growth is minimal.
It’s important to water Fittonias between feedings to flush the soil out and prevent the accumulation of mineral salts.
Nerve Plant (Mosaic Plant) Pruning
To promote the growth of dense, lush foliage, regularly prune your Mosaic Plant. The most important pruning tip for Fittonias is to pinch off the ends of growing stems. By pruning the plant like this, you avoid legginess and you obtain an attractive specimen.
Some people also advise removing flower spikes. Although Mosaic Plants produce flowers, these are discreet compared to their spectacular leaves that have colorful patterns. Pinching off the flowers encourages your Fittonia to focus on growing its sumptuous foliage.
But, if you want, you can allow your Nerve Plant to flower and enjoy its delicate bloomings.
Nerve Plant (Fittonia) Repotting
Fittonia plants should be repotted every one or two years in the spring to refresh their soil. Since these plants have superficial roots, they can be kept in small and shallow pots.
There are two main reasons that make re-potting your Nerve Plant necessary. One is to control its expansion by pruning the roots. The other is to help your Fittonia grow more by moving it to a larger container.
It is important to remember that it’s always recommended to choose a container that a little bigger than the current one. To ensure that the soil doesn’t become soggy, be sure to include a little coarse sand in your Nerve Plant potting mixture of choice.
Check to see if the container has at least one drainage hole on the bottom, and never allow your Fittonias to sit in a tray filled with water.
You could also put a layer of pebbles at the bottom of the pot to help water flow easier through the soil.
Propagating Nerve Plants
One of the benefits of having Nerve Plants in your house is that they are easy to propagate. All you need is a few cuttings and you’ll soon have more of these attractive houseplants.
The best time to propagate your lovely Fittonias is in spring or early summer, during their growth period when their development is fast.
To get Mosaic Plant cuttings, cut the stems so they have at least two nodes. The nodes are little marks indicating the base of a bud, leaf, or branch on the stem. Remove the lower leaves.
Once you have your cuttings, simply place them directly in moist potting soil or put them in water. After about 2 – 3 weeks, you should observe that they start to develop new roots.
Although Fittonia plants aren’t predisposed to insect or disease problems, you should still be vigilant and check for common houseplant problems such as aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and fungus regularly.
Treat any invasions instantly and separate the affected plant from the healthy ones to prevent the pest from spreading.
Nerve Plants are exactly what you need to give your home a colorful and joyful vibe. They are a perfect spot of color that makes indoor spaces homely, be it a residential or office space.
Nerve Plant cultivars such as Red Anne or White Anne have smaller leaves with pink-red or white veins. Some types of Fittonia plants, such as the Juanita Nerve Plant, have wide leaves with vivid red stripes. Other popular cultivars include Pink Angel, Mini Superba, and the Purple Vein Nerve Plant. So it’s safe to say that you have plenty of options when it comes to Fittonias.
Take proper care of your Mosaic Plant, and it will reward you by maintaining the air in your home pure and being a brilliant focal point in your lovely abode.