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How To Care For A Fittonia Plant?

Fittonia albivenis, or the Fittonia plant, is an excellent choice for any plant owner. They are not the fussiest plants, and therefore can be great for beginners and veteran gardeners alike. This article gives an overview of caring for Fittonias, including watering tips, soil, and maintenance. Read to learn more on how to care for a Fittonia plant.

Why is Fittonia Called A Nerve Plant?

why is fittonia called nerve plant

The Fittonia plant was named after Sarah and Elizabeth Fitton, the botanists who discovered it in the 1800s. 

Many people know it more commonly as “the nerve plant”. This is because its beautiful leaves have bright, prominent veins. The veins can be white, red, or pink.

How Often Should You Water a Fittonia?

Fittonia plants are native to the tropical rainforests of South America, in Columbia and Peru. As a result, they are happiest in higher levels of humidity and moisture.

While Fittonia plants enjoy constant moisture, they are susceptible to root rot when overwatered. It’s important to strike a good balance between underwatering and watering too much.

A good rule of thumb is to wait to water your plant until the top layer of soil becomes dry. When you water your Fittonia, make sure it’s thoroughly moist, but not waterlogged. 

If you accidentally water the plant too much, pour out the extra. Keeping it in a pot with drainage holes is a good idea so that excess water has somewhere to go.

How Much Light Does Fittonia Need?

how much light does fittonia need

In Fittonia’s native tropical rainforest environment, sunlight is filtered through the tree canopies as the plant rests on the ground. The amount of light it receives as a houseplant should mirror that as best as possible.

Fittonia plants do best in bright, indirect sunlight. When placed in direct sunlight, the plants’ leaves get scorched and brown. 

If your Fittonia won’t receive the light it needs in your home, you can try supplementing with artificial lights. Fittonias can thrive in fluorescent lighting if you put the plant close enough to the light. 

What Kind of Soil Does Fittonia Need?

When planting or repotting your Fittonia, make sure you’re using soil that drains well. The soil should retain a moderate amount of moisture, but not enough for it to become waterlogged. 

If you plan on making your soil mix, Fittonias will appreciate equal parts of:

  1. Potting soil
  2. Coarse sand
  3. Humus
  4. Peat

Although this type of mixture is ideal, it’s not necessary. Your Fittonia will do fine with a generic multipurpose potting soil as long as it drains well enough. 

How to Prune a Fittonia

Fittonias are easy to prune and don’t require much trimming to keep them healthy. They should be pruned to rid the plant of dead or diseased foliage, or for aesthetic purposes if desired. 

If you notice your Fittonia’s stems are looking leggy, you can simply pinch off the tips of the stems. This helps to keep the plant looking full and dense.

Some types of Fittonia plants produce flowers, but a lot of gardeners don’t like their small, insignificant appearance. Removing the flower buds won’t harm the plant in any way if you choose to remove them. 

Here’s a video that shows exactly where you should cut your Fittonia plant to make them grow fuller and look lusher. The video demonstrates the proper technique on a Polka Dot plant (these are related to Fittonia and receive similar care).

How to Fertilize a Fittonia

Your Fittonia plant will appreciate regular fertilizing during the growing season (spring-fall). Although this helps to keep them healthy, too much fertilizer can end up burning the roots.

You only need to fertilize your Fittonia about every 2-3 months, and never in the winter. Look for granular indoor plant fertilizer, or you can dilute a liquid fertilizer by half. 

Learning to care for a new plant can be nerve-racking at times, but Fittonias usually make the learning process easy work for new gardeners. And if it doesn’t go well, simply chalk it up to trial and error and try again. 

Fittonia Key Facts

Botanical NameFittonia albivenis
Common NamesFittonia, nerve plant, mosaic plant
Type of PlantEvergreen perennial
OriginSouth American tropical rainforest
Sun RequirementsBright, indirect light, part shade
Water RequirementsKeep moderately moist, not too wet. Water when the top two inches of soil are dry
SoilWell-drained potting soil
Bloom TimeJuly through August, but flowers are rarely seen when grown indoors.
Common PestsAphids, mealybugs, fungus gnats, thrips, mites – see our guide
ToxicityNon-toxic to pets or kids
Tips & TricksPropagation: Our guide
Growing issues: Our guide
Wilting issues: Our guide

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