The Fittonia, also known as the nerve plant, is a small tropical plant native to South America. Its nickname comes from the intricate pattern of veins that run through its leaves, resembling the network of nerves in the human body.
Types of Fittonia
There are several species of Fittonia, but the most common one kept as an indoor houseplant is Fittonia albivenis which range in color from pink, red and green. It resides in the Acanthaceae family, which includes other popular houseplants such as the African violet and Persian Shield plant.
Fittonias prefer bright, indirect light. Too much direct sunlight can scorch their leaves, while too little light can cause them to defoliate. They will thrive best in an East or West window, or a completely diffused South window. Unobstructed North expsoures can work but will cause the plant to grow slower and possibly lose their vibrant color. If you're not sure if your space will provide enough light, consider measuring light to ensure your Fittonia receives enough!
Fittonias need to be watered weekly, allowing soil to dry out half way down between waterings. The plant will start to wilt and shrivel as a physical indication it is ready for water. Avoid letting the soil become completely dry or waterlogged, as this can cause stress to the plant.
Fittonias thrive in humid environments with relative humidity ranging between 40-50%. They can benefit from regular misting or placement on a pebble tray filled with water to increase humidity levels. The most consistent way to boost humidity, however, is by incorporating a humidifer in the room. Avoid placing them near heaters or air conditioners. Not sure if humidity is high enough? You can measure the level of humidity with a hygrometer or LTH meter.
Fittonias prefer temperatures between 60°F-75°F. Avoid exposing them to temperatures below 50°F or above 90°F, as extreme temperatures can cause stress and even leaf drop.
Fittonias prefer an organic well-draining potting mix. Avoid using heavy soils or those that retain too much moisture, as this can lead to root rot.
SYMPTOM: Wilting plant, dry potting mix:
SYMPTOM: Dry, shriveled leaves
CAUSE: Low humidity, or too much sun
SYMPTOM: Yellowing leaves, mushy stems, wet potting mix