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Nerve plants are creeping, stem-rooting, immensely sought-after indoor plants due to their colorful, heavily variegated, and veined foliage. They originate from the warm and moist tropical rainforests of Peru, South America.
There is such an array of possible display ideas with nerve plants. They are commonly grown in containers or baskets so that they can be moved indoors when nights get chilly. Because of their tiny leaves that show preference to high humidity, terrarium and bottle gardens are the perfect environments for them. Also, due to their indefinite spreading habit, they make a great ground cover. And on top of that, they spill over the container as they grow, so they are also great for hanging baskets.
Who wouldn’t find a creative way to display a nerve plant? And caring for them is fairly easy. Among the necessary care requirements of Nerve, plants are high humidity, medium light, regular moisture, and peaty potting soil with compost. Let’s now get into more detail regarding the care requirements.
Source: The Indestructible Houseplant
About Nerve Plant(Mosaic Plant)
- Botanical name: Fittonia verschaffeltii
- Named after: The Misses Fitton
- Popular names: Nerve plant, mosaic plant, painted net leaf, snake skin plant, rattlesnake plant, silver net leaf plant
- Family: Acanthaceae
- Origin: Peru, South America
- Type: Evergreen, creeping perennial shrub
- USD zones: 11-12
- Rate of growth: medium
- Height: 15 x 20 cm (6 x 8 in)
- Spread: Indefinite
- Bloom: Summer
- Care: Fairly easy
- Toxicity: Non-toxic to cats, dogs or horses (ASPCA)
- Cultivars: “White Anne” has green leaves with bright white veins, “Red Anne” has green leaves with red veins, “Pink Star” has green, ruffled leaves with pink veins
- Companion plants: ponytail palms, prayer plants, scheffleras, begonias, Pilea cadierei
- Best display ideas: Floraline urn, terrarium
Fittonia group comprises attractive, low-growing tropical plants that have deep green leaves with a network of bright pink, white, green and red veins. With these streaks accenting the leaves, it is easy to see the reason for the common name.
The leaves are short-stemmed, opposite, ovate, 2-3 inches long, carried on stems that are 8 cm long. They will eventually spill over the side of a container.
Color patterns vary. Fittonia verschaffeltii var-argyroneura, also known as silver net plant, has slightly larger leaves, emerald-green in color, veined with silver-white. Fittonia verschaffeltii has dark green leaves heavily veined with a carmine pattern that maintain their variegation even in low light.
The flowers of fittonia plants are borne on short spikes but are largely concealed by bracts. They are small, trumpet-shaped, occasionally white to reddish-white, but insignificant compared to the majestic foliage. They are best removed so the plant would concentrate its energy on developing foliage.
Nerve Plant Care Guide
Fittonia Nerve plant loves warmth, so maintain a constant average room temperatures of 18-25 degrees C during summer and no lower than 15 degrees C in winter.
Fittonia species are highly sensitive to cold, so bring them indoors when temperatures drop below 15 degrees C (50 degrees F). Protect from draughts and cold temperatures.
Fittonia plants thrive in medium filtered light or part-shade as they don’t like bright sunlight. That said, not every sunny window will work.
An eastern or northern window is ideal as the intensity of the sun they provide won’t burn them, especially not if you have a sheer curtain. Don’t worry about variegation, mosaic plants can retain it even in low to medium light. Always avoid direct sun, even in winter.
If there is insufficient dappled sunlight in the winter months, supplement the exposure using fluorescent lights.
Nerve plants grow in very a humid environment in the wild. That’s why any nerve tropical plant appreciates high humidity, so consider ways of increasing humidity levels in your home. Here are some:
- Place it on a tray filled with water and pebbles, making sure water isn’t in contact with the pot.
- Frequent misting the plant daily is also advisable.
- Grow it in a terrarium.
- Move it to your bathroom or kitchen if the temperatures are consistent.
- Combine them with other humidity-loving plants like ferns and some palms.
Grow mosaic plants in a soil-based mix that is fertile, humus-rich, and well-drained. Choose a small 7.5-10 cm pot. Like with other indoor plants, avoid soggy soil. African violet potting mix can work quite well with nerve plants.
Careful watering is vital. Too much and the roots will rot; too little and the leaves will start shriveling and drooping dramatically.
Nerve plant should be kept evenly moist. This means watering when the soil surface feels dry to the touch and light when you weigh the pots in your hands. Avoid waterlogging.
Water generously with tepid water from spring to autumn, when the top 2 cm of the soil is dry, ensuring that the excess water drains away. Water sparingly in winter and don’t let the plant sit in cold, wet compost. Be constant with your watering schedule as irregular watering can stress the plant.
These tropical houseplants are by no means, heavy feeders. With that in mind, provide a half-strength liquid fertilizer once a month in spring and summer. Don’t overfertilize as it may cause leaf drop and root rot.
Repot every 2-3 years when root-bound. Choose a small pot one size larger than the previous one, sterilize it and use fresh soil. After repotting, water it, provide constant warmth, high humidity, and partially shaded area.
Propagating fittonias is easy because the trailing stems will root into peaty compost wherever they touch it at their leaf joints. These rooted stems can be removed, cut up, and potted individually.
Also, take 2 in. (5 cm) tip cuttings in spring and root them in a moist potting medium. Alternatively, propagate by layering stems.
If your nerve plant gets too leggy, simply pinch off the tip of the plant, including some leaves. Also, cut back straggly stems. This will make your nerve plant bushy.
Flower spikes should also be cut off so that the plant can use all the energy for the foliage.
Yellowing leaves in the case of Fittonia are most likely due to poor drainage and overwatering. Remove the yellowed leaves and make sure you allow the compost to dry out between waterings.
If leaf tips are turning brown, the reason for this is low humidity. Stand your plant on a pebble-filled tray of water or consider growing your nerve plant in a terrarium.
If the compost is too dry, nerve plants are prone to collapsing dramatically. Reflect on your watering routine and ensure you are watering correctly. If the plant has been dry for a while, it will have a hard time recovering.
Aphids are very common on the undersides of young leaves, especially if you forget to water often. Rub them off by hand or spray with insecticide. Hang a yellow sticky trap nearby.
The beautiful patterns on the foliage of nerve plants make a striking feature. Compact as they are, they fit even the smallest of rooms. However, they need plenty of constant humidity, moisture, and warmth steadily supplied to grow well – no ups and downs. Protect from cold and draughts.