The nerve plant is a great beginner plant. Nerve plant care couldn’t be simpler. Once you have a handle on the basics, you can prune your plant and propagate clippings for yourself or to give away.
Nerve Plant Care Basics
Nerve plants (fittonia) are native to the rain forests of South America where they grow as ground cover. The nerve plant is a low maintenance houseplant with a natural tendency to spread, which makes it an easy and attractive choice for indoor container gardens. Since it thrives in the rain forest under a canopy of other foliage, it prefers both high humidity and indirect filtered bright light. Keep your nerve plant well watered and sit it on a tray of pea gravel and water. If you under water it you will find that the whole plant wilts and droops. If you over water, the leaves will turn yellow and the roots will rot. Some people grow this plant in a terrarium for maximum humidity.
Despite their rainforest origins, nerve plants do well in the typical range of temperatures found in a home. However if exposed to extreme cold they may begin dropping leaves. To prevent this, avoid placing your plant near drafty spots in your home during the colder months.
How to Create a Fuller Nerve Plant
I had heard many people refer to pinching back a plant for years before I knew what it meant or was brave enough to try it. I wasn’t even sure what the point was to pinching back a plant. Since then I’ve learned that pinching back a plant is cutting off the growth on a stem. With something delicate like a nerve plant, you can pinch off a stem with your fingers. For heartier plants you will want to use sharp, sterilized pruning shears.
Use your two fingers and pop off a portion of the nerve plant stem as close to the next set of leaves as possible. If you are going to use the clipping for propagation, you’ll want to make sure you’re pinching off a section that has at least two nodes visible (spots where new leaves are growing or would grow)
Pinching off one stem force two new stems to branch and grow in it’s place, making a fuller plant. This method works so well and is more foolproof than it sounds.
How to Propagate Nerve Plant Clippings
After practicing the basics of nerve plant care, I was ready for more nerve plants! I read that nerve plants are easy to propagate in soil from cuttings. I used the opportunity of pinching my nerve plant to make new nerve plants from the cuttings. I tried to make sure that the cuttings were big enough, with at least 2 nodes present.
I filled a small 4 inch plastic pot with well-draining potting soil. I used my finger to make holes for the cuttings and gently placed each one in the soil. I topped off the pot with more soil and watered it generously. Within 3-4 weeks, these cuttings should take root and I should have a new nerve plant to display or give away.