Are you looking for a unique and colorful addition to your indoor plant collection? Look no further than the Nerve Plant, also known as Fittonia. This beautiful and eye-catching plant is sure to add a pop of color to any space, with its vibrant leaves and delicate veins.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll cover everything you need to know about caring for your Nerve Plant, including when to plant, light and temperature needs, watering and humidity requirements, soil and fertilizer recommendations, and much more. Let's dive in!
All About Nerve Plants
Nerve Plants are native to tropical rainforests in South America, where they grow as ground cover under the canopy of larger plants. They are a member of the Acanthaceae family and are prized for their striking, multicolored leaves.
The most common species of Nerve Plant is Fittonia verschaffeltii, which is often sold in nurseries and plant shops. There are also other varieties with different leaf colors, such as white, pink, and red.
When To Plant Nerve Plants
Nerve Plants are best planted in the spring or summer, as they prefer warm and humid conditions. You can also propagate the plant from stem cuttings at any time of the year.
Nerve Plants Care
Light & Temperature
Nerve plants require bright, indirect light to thrive. They do not tolerate direct sunlight as it can scorch their leaves. If you notice that the leaves of your nerve plant are turning yellow, it could be an indication that the plant is receiving too much sunlight.
On the other hand, if the leaves are losing their vibrant color and looking dull, it could be an indication that the plant is not receiving enough light. A north-facing window or a spot with bright, filtered light is ideal for your nerve plant.
Nerve plants also prefer warm temperatures ranging from 60-75°F (15-24°C). They can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures, but temperatures below 55°F (12°C) can harm the plant.
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Water & Humidity
Nerve plants require consistently moist soil. They prefer to be watered from the bottom, so make sure to keep the pot in a tray of water, and allow the soil to soak up the water for about an hour. Then, remove the pot from the tray and allow any excess water to drain out. It's essential to avoid letting the plant sit in standing water, as this can lead to root rot.
Nerve plants also require high humidity levels to thrive. Ideally, you should keep the humidity around 50-60%. If you live in a dry environment, you can place a humidifier near your plant or mist the leaves regularly to increase the humidity level.
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Nerve plants need soil that drains well, yet retains moisture. You can either use a commercially available potting mix or make your own by combining peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite in equal proportions. It is vital to steer clear of heavy soil or soil that holds water, as this can cause the plant's roots to rot, leading to a decline in plant health.
A well-draining, moisture-retentive soil mix provides an ideal environment for nerve plants to thrive. Additionally, you can amend the soil with organic matter, such as compost, to provide the plant with essential nutrients and improve soil structure.
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Nerve plants need proper nutrition during their active growing season, which typically runs from spring to fall. Providing regular fertilization is crucial to maintain the plant's health and encourage healthy growth. You can use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer that contains equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium every two weeks. Be sure to follow the package instructions carefully and avoid over-fertilizing, as this can cause damage to the plant's delicate roots.
It's important to note that nerve plants go through a period of dormancy during the winter months, and they do not require as much nutrition during this time. Therefore, it's best to avoid fertilizing your plant during the dormant season to prevent overfeeding and potentially causing damage to the plant. Instead, focus on maintaining proper light, temperature, and humidity levels to ensure the plant remains healthy until it resumes its active growth in the spring.
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Nerve plants have shallow root systems that do not require frequent repotting. However, they will need repotting when the roots outgrow the pot, which typically happens every 1-2 years. It's essential to choose a pot that is one size larger than the current one to provide enough space for the plant's growth. Additionally, ensure that the new pot has drainage holes to avoid waterlogging, which can lead to root rot.
When repotting your nerve plant, use a well-draining potting mix that contains peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite in equal parts. These ingredients help to retain moisture and provide aeration to the soil. Before planting the nerve plant in the new pot, gently loosen the roots and remove any dead or damaged ones to promote healthy growth.
It's important to note that repotting can be stressful to the plant, so ensure that you keep it in a shady spot for a few days after repotting and water it sparingly. This will give it time to adjust to its new environment and minimize the risk of transplant shock.
Nerve plants are easy to propagate and can be done by stem cuttings or division. Propagation is an excellent way to create new plants and expand your collection.
To propagate by stem cuttings, start by selecting a healthy stem with a few leaves and nodes. Cut the stem just below a node, making sure the cutting is at least 2-3 inches long. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone to encourage root growth, and plant it in a well-draining potting mix. Place the cutting in a warm, humid location with bright, indirect light. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged and mist the cutting daily to maintain humidity. In a few weeks, roots should start to develop, and you can transplant it into a new pot.
To propagate by division, gently remove the plant from its pot and separate the roots into smaller sections. Each section should have a healthy root system and a few leaves. If the plant is root-bound, use your fingers or a clean knife to separate the roots. Plant each section in a pot with fresh potting mix, and water thoroughly. Keep the newly divided plants in a warm, humid location with bright, indirect light, and avoid direct sunlight for the first few weeks.
Propagation can be an exciting and rewarding process, and it's a great way to share your love of nerve plants with others.
Pruning is an important aspect of nerve plant care that helps to maintain the plant's shape, size, and overall health. By regularly pruning your nerve plant, you can prevent it from becoming leggy and promote bushier growth.
One effective pruning technique is to pinch back the stems regularly. Pinching back the tips of stems encourages the plant to produce lateral shoots, which leads to bushier growth. Another technique is to remove any yellow or brown leaves promptly. These leaves are often a sign of disease or pest infestations, and removing them can prevent the spread of the problem to the rest of the plant.
If your nerve plant has become leggy, you can prune it back by cutting back the stems to just above a leaf node. This technique will encourage the plant to produce new growth and become more compact. When pruning, be sure to use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to avoid damaging the plant.
It's important to note that nerve plants can be sensitive to pruning, so it's best to prune conservatively and gradually over time, rather than all at once. Pruning during the growing season when the plant is actively growing can also help it recover more quickly.
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Troubleshooting Nerve Plant Problems
While nerve plants are generally easy to care for, they can still experience some common problems. Here are some troubleshooting tips:
If your nerve plant is not growing well or has stunted growth, check that it is getting enough light, water, and nutrients. Move it to a brighter location, water it regularly, and fertilize it occasionally to promote healthy growth.
Nerve plants can be prone to pest infestations, such as mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects. Inspect your plant regularly and use a natural insecticidal soap or neem oil to control the infestation. Isolate the plant from other plants to prevent the pests from spreading.
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Nerve plants can be susceptible to fungal diseases, such as root rot, if they are overwatered or planted in poorly draining soil. Avoid overwatering your plant and ensure that the soil is well-draining. If you suspect that your plant has a fungal disease, remove any infected leaves and treat the plant with a fungicide.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you make a nerve plant happy?
To make a nerve plant happy, provide it with bright, indirect light, keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, maintain high humidity levels, and avoid exposing it to cold drafts or direct sunlight.
Do nerve plants like to be misted?
Yes, nerve plants like to be misted regularly as they require high humidity to thrive. Misting helps to maintain the humidity level around the plant, but it should not be the only source of moisture. It's important to also water the soil regularly and ensure that the plant is not placed in a drafty area.