Fittonia is often called the “nerve plant” or “mosaic plant” due to the bright, contrasting veins that run through the leaves. There are many cultivars of the nerve plant that feature many different styles of veining and foliage.
The soil should always remain moist due to the tropical nature of fittonia. Use room temperature water and thoroughly moisten the soil, but do not water so much as to cause waterlogged soil. Waterlogged soil promotes disease and restricts air flow to and around the roots. Pouring out excess water is a must. Overwatering will cause discoloration and wilting of the leaves. The best method to estimate when to water is by feeling the weight of the container before and after a thorough watering. Poking a finger into the soil to test for moisture will only test the upper few inches of the container.
Fittonia need regular misting to keep the leaves from becoming limp and wilted. The plant is indigenous to tropical regions and has grown to require moisture on the foliage. Mist once or twice a day, along with regular watering. Wilting is only temporary, as long as a little watering and misting occurs soon after. Repeated wilting will stress the plant and is not healthy over time.
Making a Soil Mix for repotting
A good soil mixture consists of equal parts potting soil, course sand, humus, and peat. Potting soil is balanced in drainage and nutrient value, sand promotes drainage, humus retains moisture and builds a good soil structure, and peat is rich in organic matter and releases a little nutrient value as it decomposes. This mix isn’t always a must. Soil from the backyard garden may work just fine, as long as the drainage is good and the structure is not too sandy or clayey.
Fittonia can grow quickly within their desired environment, so pinching off the tips of leggy stems will keep the plant bushy and dense. Remove small flower spikes as well. The flowers are boring and use up resources the plant could be using to grow more attractive foliage. Nip the flower spike at its origin. Removing the flower will not harm the plant at all. It will continue to grow foliage just fine. Although, the flower can be left to grow if desired.
Fittonia can be fertilized a few months after repotting with a balanced houseplant water soluble (5-5-5 NPK) fertilizer or granular fertilizer. Dilute by half the recommended amount listed on the package when using a water soluble fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer solution between waterings. This will prevent excess fertilizer which can cause the foliage to burn and possibly kill the plant.
Granular fertilizer releases nutrients slowly over time. It can be applied on top the soil or mixed into the soil. Granular fertilizer should still be used in small amounts to prevent damage to the plant as well.