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Nerve Plant (Fittonia albivenis)

Fittonia albivenis, commonly known as the Nerve Plant, is an attractive small terrarium plant and is an excellent choice for small vivariums. It’s an undemanding plant that is tolerant to a wide range of conditions, which makes it an easy choice for first-time plant owners.

Interestingly, Fittonia is known for the bright veins running along its leaves that resemble a network of nerves – hence the name nerve plant.

Quick Stats:

Scientific Name: Fittonia albivenis 

Family: Acanthaceae 

Common Names: Nerve Plant, Paint Plant, Mosaic Plant 

Habitat: Jungle Floors 

Height: Up to 10 inches tall 

PH Range: 4.5 to 6.0 

Temperature: 60°F to 85°F

What Is A Nerve Plant?

Fittonia albivenis is an evergreen herbaceous flowering plant native to the tropical and subtropical areas of South America. It grows densely, forming a low mound that can be up to 10 inches tall.

Its main attraction is its prominent leaves which are known for their bright vein patterns. These patterns can range from classic green to pinks, whites, and creams.

Fittonia Albivenis "Nerve Plant" Care Guide | Tropical Terrarium Plants

Nerve Plant Facts

Nerve plants are perfect for small vivariums as they’ll stay small and don’t get overgrown. However, if grown in optimal conditions, it can reach a mature height of 10 inches or more.

Alongside its attractive foliage, Fittonia also produces white to light purplish flowers, although these aren’t as commonly seen as the neon foliage.

Description

Nerve plant has broad oval-shaped leaves that have a waxy texture to the touch. The main feature of the leaves is the bright veins that stand out against the deep green, vibrant foliage.

These veins can range from a light pink to greenish white and are what makes the nerve plant so attractive. The stems and undersides of the leaf veins are typically green in color.

Habitat

Fittonia is naturally found in the tropical rainforests of South America. It typically grows in humid, tropical weather under the canopy of taller trees near the forest floor. The average temperatures in its native habitat range from the mid-60s to 85°F.

PH Preference

When it comes to ideal pH levels, nerve plants tend to prefer a more acidic substrate. In the wild, it is often found on soil or rocks with highly acidic surfaces. It typically grows best in pH levels ranging from 4.5 to 6.0 but can tolerate some fluctuations.

Vivarium Type

There is no set type of enclosure that the Nerve Plant must be grown in. In fact, they can do very well in a variety of vivarium types. One of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing the appropriate enclosure is the amount of space available.

In addition, Fittonia albivenis should also be provided with tropical and moist terrain areas. Here are recommended vivariums it will do well in:

  • Paludariums – Half aquatic/ half terrain-based enclosure.
  • Terrariums – Fully terrain-based enclosures with little to no aquatic features.

Vivarium Placement

This plant is a terrestrial-based plant and should not be placed partially or fully underwater. Position it in the foreground of the vivarium floor between rocks and at the base of taller plants for a natural look.

Substrate

Fittonia prefers to be planted in a terrarium substrate rather than mounted like common epiphytes. The substrate should always be moderately damp at all times. Use acidic influencing additives in your soil mix like peat moss for best results.

Lighting

Nerve plants need a little bit of light but can be prone to leaf burn when exposed to intense direct sunlight. When setting up lighting within the vivarium, choose cooler color lights that mimic a cloudy day or sun-dappled forest. LED lights are ideal for this as they originated to imitate natural light.

Buy A Nerve Plant

When it comes to buying a Nerve Plant, there are a few things to keep in mind. Making sure that the plant being bought is healthy is essential for its success in a vivarium. Vegetation that is already in poor conditions, will have a very hard time adjusting to new environments.

In addition, always check the foliage closely for yellowing, wilting, black spots, or any signs of damage. Pay close attention and look for any pests or fungal diseases. Inspect both sides of the leaves to avoid missing any red flags.  Click the image below to find out more about the current price and other relative info about this plant:

Nerve Plant Care and Propagation

Propagating Fittonia is easy and can be done in a couple of ways. The main way to propagate this plant is through stem cuttings. Take a stem cutting of the nerve plant with a few leaves and place it in a shallow dish filled with water.

Remove the bottom leaves so the cuttings can sit on the bottom of the dish. Change the water every few days until the stem cutting has been rooted and is ready to be planted.

How to grow

Nerve plants prefer to be kept on the moist side but should not be overly wet. A mister or fogger is a great way to increase the humidity in the vivarium for this plant. Be sure to allow the plant to dry out periodically and cut back on watering when it is established.

Watering

Keep the humidity relatively high with nerve plants, this is important. During the summer, keep the soil moist but not soggy. During winter, let the top inch of soil dry out before watering again. It’s important to keep this plant in an area with some airflow and not too high humidity.

Plants Similar To Nerve Plant

Adding diversity to an enclosure is key to an aesthetically pleasing setup. Try mixing up the look of your vivarium with different flora that can easily co-exist in the same types of environment.

Furthermore, if for some reason you find this tropical terrarium plant hard to acquire or would like to consider something similar to this plant… Here are some other tropical plants you might find may do well with or in the place of Fittonia:

Hemigraphis alternata "Purple Waffle" Care Guide | Tropical Plants
The Juncus Effusus Spiralis "Corkscrew Rush" Care Guide
Spathiphyllum "Peace Lily" Care Guide | Tropical Terrarium Plants

Conclusion

Nerve plants are a great choice for any vivarium with some great potential for adding some vibrant color. This plant is fairly low maintenance, with a good level of humidity, adequate drainage, and low to medium lighting. With patience and some regular care, Fittonia albivenis can be an excellent addition to any miniature ecosystem.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, Nerve Plants (Fittonia albivenis) are easy to take care of. They prefer indirect light, but can survive in low light conditions. The soil should be kept moist but not soggy. These plants don‘t need frequent fertilizing and are very hardy, tolerating a variety of growing environments.

No, Nerve Plant is not toxic to humans. It is a safe plant to have around pets and small children.

The nerve plant, or Fittonia albivenis, should be watered once a week or when the top inch of soil feels dry. It prefers a somewhat moist environment, but be aware of overwatering and make sure the soil drains well.

Nerve plants, also known by their scientific name Fittonia, got their common name due to the intricate veinlike patterns of the leaves, which look similar to a network of nerves.

No, a nerve plant (also known as a Fittonia) cannot live in just water. They need to be in a potting mix with adequate moisture and humidity levels. The soil should also be allowed to dry out between watering, as too much water can cause root rot.

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