Can you believe we are almost halfway through the year!
June is just around the corner and Christmas in our sights (I know, I know but when it comes to plants we are always looking about 6 months ahead!!) which means we are looking at new product offerings.
The first new addition will more than likely be the Fittonia, a small and colorful houseplant. The main reason that this houseplant is kept is the pattern on the leaf. The most common Fittonia has a pattern of silver veins on a light green leaf. There are also varieties with pink, pink, white or green veins. You can read more about these different types further down this page. This fun pattern on the leaves gives the Fittonia its nickname Mosaic plant or Nerve plant.
Depending on the species, these leaves never grow larger than a few centimeters. The plant originates from Peru where it grows as a ground cover. A Fittonia can then spread over a piece of about 30 centimeters. They can reach a maximum height of 15 centimeters, although they often stay below this. A Fittonia can bloom in the natural environment, but as a houseplant this rarely happens.
It is a nice houseplant, but also very temperamental. The plant makes quite a few demands on the care. You can read these requirements below, as well as the different types of Fittonia and common problems.
The most common Fittonia
The highest priority in the care of the Fittonia: high humidity. This is one of the most important conditions for these plants to grow beautifully. These houseplants must always be in a moist environment. They dry out quickly.
If you have your Fittonia in a terrarium or closed pot, you don't really have to worry about this part. In this closed system it is always exactly moist enough and your plant will, if all goes well, have a good time.
For those who have these plants in a living room or bedroom, watering is an essential part of the care. The right way of watering is important because Fittonias are very choosy when it comes to the amount and frequency of watering.
First, the ground should never be too soggy. If these plants are left in soggy soil for a longer period of time, the roots will rot. This results in loss of leaves and eventually the plant dies. So never water when the soil is still wet! You can easily check this by putting your finger in the soil. Does soil stick to your finger? Then the soil is still wet and you do not water.
Also, the soil should never dry out completely. The leaves then become dry and can break easily. If this happens for a short while, the plant can still bounce back when watering, but after a longer period of drought there is no recovery.
Pot and choice of soil
It has already been indicated above: too wet and soggy soil causes major problems for the Fittonia. You can largely prevent this problem with an adjustment to the pot.
For example, you should always provide a hole in the bottom of the pot. This allows the excess water to flow away. An additional advantage is that residues of plant food are flushed from the soil by watering. You can further improve this drainage by placing a layer of hydro grains at the bottom of the pot . If necessary, you can place a saucer under the pot so that water doesn't get on furniture.
A Fittonia with a lot of pink
The right amount of light
Your Fittonia requires a lot of light. But beware: never direct sunlight. If direct sunlight shines on the leaves, they can burn or shrivel. This may sound a bit dramatic, but the plant is simply not used to this. In the natural environment, this plant grows as a ground cover under other plants, so that direct sunlight never reaches it.
At the same time, the plant does need a lot of light to grow well and to maintain the beautiful color. Especially if you have a Fittonia with bright colors, such as red or pink, the amount of light is important. If the plant is too dark, these colors can fade. In the worst case, the leaves can even become completely smooth.
The best thing is a spot close to a window on the north or east. There is a lot of light at that location, but never the sun directly. If the sun is already shining it is early morning. Then the sun is not yet hot enough to cause any real damage. You do have to make sure that the soil dries out faster and that you therefore have to water a little more often.
You may notice that your Fittonia is no longer symmetrical over time. This is because the plant grows towards the light. Do you want to keep it symmetrical? Then turn the pot a quarter turn every week.
A Fittonia in a pot depends on the nutrients available in the soil. It is a small plant, but can grow considerably. The available nutrients are therefore quickly used up.
Especially in the spring and summer you can almost see this plant growing. Many new stems and leaves are created. To facilitate this growth, it is important that you apply plant food every two weeks in the spring and summer. In addition to healthy growth, nutrition also contributes to preserving the color on the leaves.
Always read the instructions on the packaging of the plant food carefully. It happens quickly that you give too much and this can be harmful to the plant.
Pruning is important to keep the plant in good shape. If you don't prune, you have the chance that the stems will grow in all directions. It can also happen that the distance between the leaves is getting longer. In short: the plant is no longer beautiful.
The maintenance pruning is fairly easy. Simply top off the tips of the stems by an inch. This stimulates the plant to grow back fuller. If you do this regularly, the plant will remain a beautiful model.
The Fittonia originally grows in the tropical rainforests of Peru. You wouldn't say it, but this plant tolerates temperatures of 10 degrees Celsius. However, tolerance does not mean that the plant will grow beautifully under these temperatures. If you want to ensure good growth and beautiful colors, keep the temperature always above 18 degrees.
Also be aware of sudden changes in temperature. These can be caused by an open window or a radiator that switches on. A Fittonia cannot appreciate this.
Fittonia is a plant genus belonging to the Acanthaceae family. The vast majority of Fittonia species that we encounter in garden centers are cultivars of the Fittonia Albivenis (or: Fittonia Verschaffeltii). Some well-known species are, for example, the Forest Flame and the Skeleton .
In addition to these variations, almost countless color combinations are conceivable. The Fittonia never gets boring!
All these variants would almost make us forget that another special species grows in nature: Fittonia Gigantea. With leaves that can grow up to 10 centimeters long, the Gigantea lives up to its name. These leaves are dark green and have dark red veins in the same patterns as the Verschaffeltii.
The flower of the Fittonia
This plant naturally grows best in the natural (tropical) environment. The days there are long, it is warm and the Fittonia enjoys a very high humidity. In this natural environment it regularly happens that these plants bloom. Just as native plants flourish in our country.
You can do your best, the care as a houseplant is never as optimal as the natural conditions. Sometimes it is still possible to get the plant to flower. This mainly works in terrariums, but sometimes also simply in the living room.
The way of flowering is special. Turrets grow above the plant from which the flowers grow. You can see this clearly in the picture below. Would you rather keep the plant for the leaves? Then cut off the flower tops as soon as they emerge. This returns the energy to the leave