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Around the end of May (which would be the end of Fall here in the southern hemisphere) I bought a small potted Fittonia to keep in my bedroom. As you can see in the picture, by the time it came it was very bushy:

May 28

The store I bought it from recommended that I water it (4-5ml) every week or so, but quickly I started to realize that leaves would wither (and then they would just come off, I wouldn't even call it plucking) and sometimes the plant would overall shrivel up. I then started watering it every 2-3 days (also tried to give it more indirect light and misting), and it stopped shriveling up, but there were few leaves left, and some of them looked damaged.

I've been keeping it up and nothing has changed. I can see some small leaves sprouting, but they've been the same size for a long time now. We're nearing the end of winter (although in a tropical country), and the plant looks like this as of right now:

August 30

What have I been doing wrong? Water, light, humidity? Can I do something to repair those damaged leaves? Has the growth stopped because of permanent damages to the plant or does it have to do with the seasons? Any help on how to recover this plant would be appreciated.

  • What is that block of white stuff its sitting in? Is the plant inside a pot inserted into the white block? – Bamboo Aug 30 '19 at 16:31
  • @Bamboo, yes, it's the plant's pot, it's made of white quartz – felipecgonc Aug 30 '19 at 17:44
  • You need to double check to make sure the pot is not contributing salts to the water. Otherwise it might be the water you are using (tap water contains chlorine and chloramin). @bamboo spotted it correctly its something to do with the pot – seedelicious Jan 28 '20 at 1:25
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Your Fittonia actually looks quite nice in that quartz pot. Nerve plant is a native of the dripping wet humidity and shade of the tropical rain forest. Since they remain quite compact they are not too demanding of root space and might do quite well for a long time in that decorative pot, and the plant with pot inside a warm mostly-closed terrarium would considerably ease the issue of watering. It will require hardly any water in a terrarium; just check it from time to time and give a few drops as required.

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One major problem is what the plant is growing in, specifically, the solid block of quartz; whilst it may be attractive, it's not really suitable for long term use. There is presumably no drainage from it, so when you water, any excess cannot drain away. Whilst these plants do not like to dry out completely, they do not appreciate stagnant soil conditions caused by lack of drainage. Second, the small space available in the centre does not allow for root growth, so the plant is unable to increase in size and grow as it should.That said, Fittonia also require high humidity or moist air - these plants do well in humid environments like terrariums.

I'd suggest you find an ordinary plant pot with drainage holes which is a little larger than the size of the current rootball and replant into it, using new potting soil. If you want to keep it as an ordinary houseplant, providing a pebble tray for it to stand on to keep the air around it as moist as possible would be helpful. Stand it somewhere with bright light but no direct sun, well away from heat sources. Water in well after repotting, and empty out any outer tray or pot (if you're not using a pebble tray) 30 minutes after watering so it's not left sitting in water. Note the pebble tray should be big enough to protrude round the pot, and half filled with water so that the pebbles are not fully submerged, with the plant stood on top of the pebbles, again so the pot is not sitting in water. Further information here https://www.thespruce.com/grow-fittonia-houseplants-indoors-1902486

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