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How to Grow Nerve Plant — Fittonia

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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.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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