In this guide to the fittonia we’ll run down how to get the best out of these colorfully veined leaves. They are relatively easy to care for, and do well in most households with just a few care needs. The key to caring for them is to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, and no direct sunlight.
Fittonia Care Summary
|Light needs:||Bright indirect sunlight.|
|Watering needs:||Keep the soil moist but not soggy, water it if the top 20% of soil is dry.|
|Fertilizer:||A balanced fertilizer once a month in spring and summer.|
|Soil:||Well draining peat-based (or similar).|
|Temperature:||18°C to 27°C (64-81°F).|
|Where to buy:||Try our list of Rare Plant Shops.|
Fittonias are known for their funky foliage, the beautifully veined, but small leaves which grow wildly in parts of Peru have become a much-loved houseplant. This is a perfect small plant to add striking colored patterns.
Fittonia Light Needs
Bright indirect sunlight is best for a fittonia, they can tolerate lower light areas but they may lose some of their coloring. Be careful of direct sun though, their leaves will burn if given too much light.
How Often to Water
Keep the soil moist but not water-logged, so check your fittonia once a week and water it if the top 20% of soil is dry.
This plant is a drama queen! They droop when they need water. They can be really fussy, don’t worry if they totally fall over, they should be ok after a good watering. Use filtered tap water and let it stand overnight. If the water is too cold it could shock the plant and they can be sensitive to hard water.
Use a balanced fertilizer once a month in the spring and summer months. Don’t feed in the winter. Dilute it well (or even too much) to avoid fertilizer burn.
A well draining peat-based (or similar) potting compost will be great.
When To Repot
You can repot in spring. They grow to the size of the pot so you can plant them up a container-size or two to encourage bigger growth during the coming growing months.
50%-60% is ideal, fittonias do well in the higher end of household humidity for best growth, but they will be just fine in any normal home humidity levels.
18°C to 27°C (64-81°F) is ideal in the daytime to encourage growth. A good minimum temperature is 10°C (50°F) at night or in the winter.
Fittonias can be easily propagated by taking cuttings of sections of the stems that include a node and putting them in wet sphagnum moss or water to root. You can do both: root them in a jar of filtered tap water for a month or so to get the roots started and then move them to moss. Put the cuttings in a bright and warm place to encourage growth for up to two months until the roots have established. You want to keep them humid during this time too. When they are well established you can plant the cuttings up in soil.
Is It Toxic To Cats?
Fittonia are not toxic to cats.
Do Fittonia Like To Be Root Bound?
It is best to give the roots the space they need to grow, don’t let them get crowded. Just give them a new pot.
Do Fittonias Flower?
They can flower occasionally, but it is quite rare and they are non remarkable, they put out little green bushy stems with vey small flowers on them.
Can Fittonia Grow In Water?
You can propagate fittonia in water and grow it there on going if you like, just keep the water topped up and change it if it goes cloudy.
Why Fittonia Leaves Drop
Fittonia leaves drop happens when you are not meeting its care needs in some way, it could be over or underwatering, or even lack of humidity or low temperatures. First thing to check is that you are not overwatering, then check the other methodically to rule them out or treat for them.
Why Fittonia Leaves Curl
Leaves curl up when the plant does not get enough water or is in a low humidity environment. Try to up it’s humidity and water it well.
Where To Buy
Try your local plants stores and support them where possible, if not you can try one of these Rare Plant Shops.
Mosaic plant, nerve plant.
How To Make A Fittonia Bushy
The best way to make your plant bushier is to cut back any stems that have become leggy. Then propagate the cuttings and plant back in with the main plant.
FAQs and Common Problems
Underwatering is a common issue for fittonias, they like to be kept moist, but not too wet. Another issue is color fading, and this is most likely due to lack of light, move it to brighter location with plenty of indirect sunlight.
Buy: we recommend a digital thermometer hygrometer (amazon affiliate link) to measure humidity.
- More info on the RHS plant page.
- Some fittonias are patented: Fittonia Red Star and Fittonia Pink Diamond.
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Hope you liked our fittonia guide and found it useful, if you have any feedback, please get in touch.