Botanical Name — Fittonia ‘Red’
Common Name — Nerve Plant
Plant Family — Acanthaceae
Fittonia ‘Red’ is a Peruvian native known for its mosaic-like leaves covered in pink-red veins. Its common name comes from its dramatic habit of drooping visibly when it’s thirsty. A lover of rainforest-like humidity, this little plant is great for terrariums and hanging baskets in the bathroom or near a humidifier.
- Fittonia ‘Red’ prefers medium to bright indirect light. Don’t let the leaves receive too much direct sunlight, since that can burn them. Place this plant on an east or north facing window sill, or hang it nearby. If you have south or west facing windows, place a couple of feet away from the window and or provide shade with a sheer curtain.
- They can tolerate lower light conditions but can become leggy if they don’t get enough light. They may also lose the brilliant red color if not enough light is provided.
- Nerve plants like room temperatures around 65 to 80 ºF. They should always be kept above 55 ºF.
- Provide ample humidity for this tropical plant. If your home is dry, especially during the winter months, your plant can benefit from misting with tepid water or a humidifier.
- Allow the soil to dry to 2 inches down between waterings. Water thoroughly when dry and let the excess drain out the bottom of the planter. Water more often during the spring and summer months. Reduce watering as often in the fall and winter months.
- Water with room temperature water, so you don’t shock your Nerve Plant.
- Use a well aerated, quick draining potting mix. A quality potting soil should be perfect.
- Fittonia ‘Red’ may produce columnar flower stalks with budding white flowers. Indoor and potted plants rarely flower, however.
- In spring and summer, fertilize once a month with an organic houseplant fertilizer.
- Fittonia ‘Red’ are easily propagated by stem tip cuttings. The cutting should have at least two nodes on the stem. Take the leaf off of the lower node and leave a leaf on the upper one. Place the stem in a glass of water, making sure no leaves are in the water. Plant in a small pot when the roots are at least two inches long. Regularly water the newly-potted cutting. The soil should be just barely moist to the touch at all times.
- The most common insect pests for Fittonia ‘Red’ in homes are thrips, mealybugs and aphids. Spider mites can occasionally be a problem as well.
- Overwatering can cause root rot.
- Leaf spot diseases can be a problem and are usually caused by improper watering.
Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)
- Repot your Fittonia ‘Red’ once the plant has become root bound. Choose a planter that is two sizes larger than your current planter. Make sure to add fresh soil when repotting.
- Plants can be selectively pruned to keep the branches from getting too long and to also encourage new growth for a fuller look. You can cut back to 2 inches if necessary. Also trim any dead or discolored leaves.
- Dust or wash leaves frequently to prevent dust from clogging the plant’s pores.
- Fittonia ‘Red’ is non-toxic to humans and animals, but should not be ingested.