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Nerve plant, Mosaic plant, Silver net plant, Lace leaf, Painted
net leaf, Snakeskin plant
are evergreen, creeping perennials that are grown primarily as
houseplants. An average size is 6 inches tall and 12 inches
wide. They are notable for their intricately veined, egg-shaped
leaves, which grow opposite one another. The olive green leaves
feature veins colored white to pink to bright red. Both larger
varieties, with leaves approximately 2 to 4 inches long, and
smaller varieties, with leaves approximately 1 inch long, are
With proper care, individual plants can live several years. Stem
cuttings allow plants to last perpetually (see “Repotting”).
plants are available year-round.
in-store and consumer care
LIGHT Low light levels are fine for
Fittonias, and the shadowless light of a north window is
WATER The soil should be kept moist
at all times, and watering should be done with lukewarm, soft
TEMPERATURE Warm temperatures are
needed for Fittonias to flourish. Night temperatures
between 65 F and 70 F and day temperatures between 75 F and 85 F
HUMIDITY Fittonias must be
kept in a humid environment, such as in a terrarium or on a tray
filled with pebbles and water. Fittonias also can be
grouped with other humidity-loving plants such as small ferns
and prayer plants (Maranta leuconeura). Fittonias
also can be misted occasionally
FERTILIZER Feed plants with a
balanced houseplant fertilizer, diluted by half, every two
weeks. Wait three or four months before feeding newly purchased
or potted plants.
PROPOGATION Fittonias can be
propagated from stem cuttings.
PRUNING Pinch back Fittonias’
stems to keep the plants compact. Small flower spikes may appear
occasionally but should be pinched off.
REPOTTING Take stem cuttings and
start new plants, in any season, to replace aging or straggly
Fittonia plants. Creeping stems also will root in
surrounding compost and can be removed and potted.
PESTS Fittonias are
generally pest-free. The moist soil may encourage fungus gnats,
small white gnats that hover over the soil. Repotting in fresh
soil is one remedy.
LEAF CONCERNS Yellowed, wilting
leaves are a sign of overwatering. Shrivelled leaves are a sign
that the air is too dry or the plant is getting too much light.
A collapsed plant signals it isn’t getting enough water and
generally will perk back up with watering if it hasn’t been dry
for more than a few hours.
WHAT'S IN A NAME The Fittonia plant is named for Irish
sisters Elizabeth and Sarah Fitton, who wrote Conversations
on Botany in 1817. Its common names, including the
most-often-used nerve plant, refer to the leaves’ intricate
FAMILY Fittonia plants are members of the Acanthaceae
(Acanthus) family. Common relatives include
Aphelandras (zebra plants), Crossandras (firecracker
flowers), black-eyed Susans (Thunbergias) and shrimp
HOME SWEET HOME The plants are native to Peru and its
information provided by:
Botanica, by R.G.
Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
The Chain of
Life Network®, www.chainoflifenetwork.org
Houseplant Survival Manual, by Barbara Pleasant
Engelmann Greenhouses Inc., www.exoticangel.com
The House Plant
Encyclopedia, by Ingrid Jantra and Ursula Krüger
The House Plant
Expert, by Dr. D.G. Hessayon
Plant of the Month” writer Amy Bauer at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (800) 355-8086.
of Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses Inc.
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