Home Plant guides How to care for a fittonia (nerve plant)

"Fittonia close up"

How to care for a fittonia (nerve plant)

Fittonias, a lot of people have them and they are supposed to be quite easy to take care of, but in my experience, they have quite a steep learning curve. Once you get the trick, they won't die on you, so that's why I'm here to tell you how to deal with this plant.

In this guide, we'll go over the topics:

  1. Humidity
  2. Watering
  3. Sunlight
  4. Soil

You can click on the links to take you to the right section.

Humidity

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The trick to keeping these plants alive is humidity. This plant needs to be in a humid environment at all times, because it dries out quickly. Before I discovered this trick, the plant constantly dried out, no matter how often I watered it. Now, after discovering the trick, I don't actually water the Fittonia any more. I hear you screaming: "What is this trick?!". Here we go:

To keep your Fittonia alive and even make it thrive, plant it in a terrarium. This might sound like a strange idea, but there are some very simple approaches to achieve this. A terrarium is usually for animals, they're these large aquarium tanks with plants, sometimes water and animals. However, you can make a smaller version of this by simply finding a mason jar with an air tight lid. You might have some unused jars in your cabinet right now, go ahead and grab those.

I won't go over how to make a terrarium, because frankly, I'm not an expert. I will, however, recommend this YouTube video by SerpaDesign. Even if this video won't help you, this channel has amazing resources to help you out. This channel helped me a lot when creating a terrarium for my fittonia.

Watering

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Assuming you've put your Fittonia in a terrarium, you really don't need to water it. The terrarium should be closed the whole time and the whole humid environment will make it so you won't have to water it at all. The only time you should add moisture is when you've cleaned the terrarium. At this point you'll have had the lid open for quite some time and all that moisture that's evaporated during that time will need to be replenished. You should use a plant spray for this. Instead of actually putting water in the terrarium, just thoroughly spray the fittonia inside of the terrarium and then close the lid. The watering cycle inside of the terrarium will maintain itself and you won't actually need to do anything for a very long time. As an example, I clean the terrarium every 3 - 6 months and that's when I'll add extra moisture, but in between that time it's really not necessary.

If you assume the Fittonia is in the terrarium the whole time you own it, it's the easiest plant you'll own. It won't need your attention for a long time and it'll grow by itself while you won't have to take care of it. If you don't keep your Fittonia in a terrarium, just make sure to mist it every day, just to keep the humidity high enough. Luckily the plant will let you know when it's not getting enough water. It'll start to droop and its leaves will get crisp. So watch out for the signs and you should be fine.

Sunlight

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The sunlight of the Fittonia is quite important. Whether you keep it in a terrarium or not, the plant needs a lot of light. Keep it in bright, but indirect sunlight. If you have a colored Fittonia, a red or pink one for example, it will lose its color when it's in the dark for too long. If you keep the plant in direct sunlight, it will dry out very quickly and you'll have to constantly water it. This is where the terrarium could do very well. If you do keep the Fittonia in a terrarium, you could place it in a spot where it gets some direct sunlight for part of the day, as it'll be in a very humid environment the whole time.

The key to keeping the leaves nice and colored is to give it enough sunlight. If you were to keep it in a darker spot, the leaves might turn completely green or in case of a colored Fittonia, the colored areas will turn white. So when you notice a change like this, move it to a brighter space, but make sure to adjust your watering/misting schedule to accomodate for this extra light.

Soil

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Fittonias love humid environments and don't do very well when they're in dry soil. To give you Fittonia the best chance to do well, you should give it a soil that retains a lot of moisture. This way, the Fittonia will be in a more humid environment and it'll stay in that environment for much longer.

Conclusion

The Fittonia can be as easy or as difficult as you want. If you just want to keep it happy, but don't want to spend a lot of time to keep it that way: put it in a terrarium, it'll love this. If you do want to spend more time taking care of it, place it in a pot. Whatever you choose, be sure to keep it very moist at all times, as this plant loves this.

Thank you for reading this post! I hope it helps you to keep your plants healthy and beautiful! If you're looking for more guides on specific plants, you can always request a plant guide or donate a plant in order to get a guide for the plant you have trouble with.

Tags: humidity, terrarium

Posted on: December 6th, 2019 Last updated on: August 14th, 2020

Other common names for this plant

  • Nerve plant

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