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Fittonia (Nerve plant) - Expert Tips

How to care for Fittonia (Nerve Plant): Expert Tips for Thriving Plants

Fittonias are popular houseplants known for their colourful foliage. Their leaves come in bright colours such as green, pink, white, and red. These plants are native to South America, especially Peru. They grow in tropical rainforests as ground cover under tree canopies.

The full botanical name is Fittonia Albivenis and is named after Elizabeth and Sarah Mary Fitton, two Irish sisters who introduced the science of plants to young people with the book ‘Conversations on Botany’. The specific name Albivensis literally means "White Veins".

Fun fact! Fittonia plants are also known as Nerve Plants because of their intricate veining patterns, which resemble nerves in the human body. They're called Mosaic Plants because their leaves have veins that kinda cross each other.

Fittonias are fairly easy to look after, with some special requirements. If you are a plant lover who likes to take care of your plants often, this is the plant for you!

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Fittonia (Nerve Plant) Care: 10 expert tips for growing it successfully

  1. Look for a spot with bright indirect light. Fittonias thrive in bright but filtered light, so a spot near a window would be great.
  2. Keep it out of direct sunlight. Sunlight can be too harsh on its delicate leaves. If needed, shade those intense sun rays with curtains.
  3. Fittonias need to be watered often and thoroughly. They like their soil moist but not soggy. So, wait until the top 2-3 cm of soil feels dry before watering again.
  4. If you notice your Fittonia leaves drooping, don't worry! Often, this is a sign that the soil is too dry and the plant is thirsty. It should recover quickly if you give it a good drink.
  5. Fittonias need high humidity to thrive. Keep the air moist by placing a water tray near the plant, or consider using a room humidifier.
  6. Keep the temperature constant. The delicate leaves of this plant are sensitive to sudden changes. Make sure they are kept away from open windows and air conditioning vents.
  7. Keep an eye on your leafy friend regularly. If you notice signs of infestation, treat them promptly. Fittonia can attract spider mites and mealybugs, so check the leaves regularly.
  8. Pinch back Fittonia stems to encourage bushy growth. Fittonia responds well to pruning and can become bushier if you regularly pinch back the stems.
  9. Fertilise every 2-4 weeks during the growing season. Fittonia doesn't need a lot of food but a light dose of balanced fertiliser every few weeks can help keep its foliage healthy.
  10. Yellowing and dropping leaves on your Fittonia can indicate overwatering. Simply inspect the soil and adjust the watering schedule for your Fittonia.

Fittonia Care Tips

Light and placement for Fittonia

Fittonia prefers bright, indirect light. Think of windows facing north or east, light through a filtered curtain or perhaps a few metres away from a very sunny window. In any case, never put this plant in full sun. Intensive sun rays will hurt its beautiful foliage.

They are also known for their low light tolerance and do well in medium shades. Due to its natural habitat under the canopy of large trees, Fittonia is adapted to lower light conditions. However, full shade can be too much for them. You can try different locations and see what works best for your Fittonia!

If Fittonia plants don't get enough light, their leaves may droop or curl, and their growth may be leggy. They may also lose their vibrant colour and become pale in colour. You may need to move it to a brighter location or consider using grow lights.

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Fittonias are pretty picky when it comes to watering. They enjoy evenly moist soil but are sensitive to overwatering. Don't worry! It's not as difficult as it seems. Finding the proper watering schedule for your Fittonia may take some time.

The best time to water your Fittonia is when the top 2-3 cm of soil feels ash dry. Simply stick your finger into the soil or use a water meter to measure soil moisture. If you're unsure when to water your Nerve Plant, just keep in mind that it's better to have dry soil than wet soil. Always water your Fittonia with room temperature water.

Expert tip! Don't get too much water on leaves, as standing water can cause brown or yellow spots.

Fittonias are plants that can be a bit dramatic. Whenever they are even slightly thirsty, they will droop their leaves and let you know. However, you don't need to worry. They'll recover quickly if you water them. Just don't let this happen too often because they're sensitive to both under and overwatering. Always check the soil before watering again!


Fittonias are particularly slow-growing houseplants, so it is best to dilute your fertiliser a bit to be sure you won’t over-fertilise it. Diluting the fertiliser can help ensure the plant gets the nutrients it needs without being overwhelmed. For best results, use PLNTS nutrition plant food every 2-4 weeks and dilute it to the half-strength recommended on the package.


Nerve plants enjoy warm temperatures as tropical plants. They're great for average homes because they thrive between 18°C to 24°C. But if the temperature goes below 16°C, the leaves may fall off, and the plant won't grow as well.

Expert tip! Keep Fittonias at a constant temperature, and do not put them in draughty places. Chilly breezes can cause lasting damage!

Is it safe to take it outside in the summer (Europe)?

If you're in Europe, you can take your Fittonia plants outside during the summer, but only if it's warmer than 16°C and you make sure to protect it from direct sunlight, chilly breezes, and strong winds. If you have a balcony or terrace, that would be a perfect spot!

When the weather is too cold in the summer, it's best to keep it indoors. When you decide to take your Fittonia out, remember to bring it back inside before the nights get chilly!

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Originally from tropical rainforests, Fittonia plants thrive in humid environments. Ideally, they like humidity levels between 50% and 70%. If the humidity falls below 40%, the leaves may wilt, curl, or turn brown at the edges.

Expert tip! Avoid misting your Fittonia in the evening or at night, as standing water on their delicate leaves can cause dark spots and create a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. Misting in the morning allows excess water to evaporate quickly.

To help your Fittonia thrive in a dry room, place a tray of pebbles near the plant or use a room humidifier. Since Fittonias are often sold as small plants, they're great for terrariums, which help keep the humidity levels just right!


Fittonia plants typically need to be repotted every 2-3 years, depending on how fast they grow and whether they've outgrown their current pot. Although they are not fast-growing plants, they can grow quickly if the conditions are suitable.

When repotting Fittonia, choosing a pot slightly larger than the current one is best, as these plants generally like to be root bound. You can learn more about repotting houseplants here.

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Fittonia plants thrive best in well-draining soil with a pH level of 6.0 to 6.5. Use PLNTS organic potting soil for great results. You can add vermiculite or perlite into the soil to help improve soil aeration, drainage, and moisture retention.

Propagating Fittonias

You can make new Fittonia plants by using stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, or by dividing the plant. It usually takes 2-4 weeks for them to root, but sometimes it may take longer, so don't worry if it takes a while. You can use rooting powder on the cuttings to speed up the process.

Here's a step-by-step guide to propagating Fittonia by stem cuttings:

  1. Select a healthy stem with at least 2 or 4 leaves attached. Use a sharp knife or shears to cut it carefully. If there are any lower leaves, remove them.
  2. Plant the cutting in a small pot with PLNTS Cutting soil and water lightly. Alternatively, you can root your stem cutting in water, and if you see roots, transplant them into the soil.
  3. Cover the pot with plastic to create a greenhouse effect and place it in a bright, warm location. Make sure you water the cutting well, and don't let it dry out! Monitor the cutting regularly and transplant it after a few weeks once it has roots.

Here's a step-by-step guide to propagating Fittonia by leaf cuttings:

  1. Cut a healthy Fittonia plant leaf carefully with a sharp knife or shears, and keep the stem attached for about 1 cm.
  2. Prepare a small pot with well-draining PLNTS Cutting soil. Make a small hole on the soil's surface and insert the leaf-cutting stem into the hole. Secure the stem in place by pressing firmly around it.
  3. Put the pot in a warm, bright location and water the cutting lightly, making sure not to overwater it. Do not let it dry out either! After a few weeks, the leaf-cutting should begin to root and produce new growth.

Here's a step-by-step guide to propagating Fittonia by division:

  1. Remove the parent plant from its pot and gently separate its roots and stems into smaller sections. Make sure each section has its own roots and stems with leaves.
  2. Prepare pots with well-draining soil and plant each section in its own pot.
  3. Place the pots in a bright, warm location and continue caring for the new plants as you mature Fittonia plants.

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Most common pests and diseases on Fittonia

When kept indoors, the Fittonia rarely suffers from pests and diseases. Thrips, mealybugs and spider mites are the most common pests affecting Fittonia. Pests can weaken your Fittonia and cause various diseases, including those transmitted by thrips. Fittonia can be affected by root rot, powdery mildew, and leaf spot diseases.

So keep an eye on your Fittonia, and if you think something is wrong, check our PLNTS doctor page to see what is wrong and how best to fight it.

Fittonia varieties

There are several varieties of Fittonia plants, each with its own unique appearance. The Fittonia Verschaffeltii has green leaves with intricate veins of white, while the Joly Josan variety has dark green leaves with delicate pink veins. For a more colourful option, the Red Forest Flames variety has deep red veins that contrast against its green leaves, and the Pink Forest Flames variety has vibrant pink veins on its green leaves. There are so many beautiful varieties to choose from, one for every taste!

Are Fittonias toxic for pets or children?

Multiple sources list that Fittonias are safe for pets. Yay! Not only are they safe for pets but also for people and, therefore, children, there is nothing to fear. How great is that?

Buy your Fittonia online at

At, you can buy your new Fittonia online, for example, the Fittonia Verschaffeltii and the Fittonia Pink Forest Flame. Whether you like your Fittonias big from the start or prefer to grow them from tiny BabyPLNTS into full-grown PLNTS - buy Fittonia online at

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Hi, I'm Emma, your guide!

Hi, I’m Emma, your guide!