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Fittonia

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  • Indoor Plants
Fittonia albivenis
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Gilles Murray)

Onglets

Botany

Origin and description

Originally from South America, this small creeping plant lives in humid areas where sunlight is filtered by larger plants. It is cultivated for its small dark-green oval leaves and furrowed pink ribs. Its spiky flowers are unspectacular. This species is perfect for decorative ground cover, for indoor plant arrangements or in hanging baskets.

Species, cultivars and related plants

Fittonia verschaffeltii var. argyroneura has silvery olive-green foliage marked with white veins. Fittonia verschaffeltii var. argyroneura ‘Nana’ is a dwarf variety that is used in table arrangements and terrariums. It has good resistance to dry air and is one of the easiest to grow. Fittonia verschaffeltii var. argyroneura ‘Variegata’ has tiny olive-green and white leaves with silvery reflections. Its ribs are white. Fittonia verschaffeltii var. Pearcei ‘Jaunita’ has small dark-green leaves and a wide network of pink ribs. Fittonia gigantea reaches 60 cm in height and has a compact form. Its leaves, which can reach 10 cm in length, are green with dark pink veins.

Common name

Fittonia / Mosaic plant

Latin name (genus)

Fittonia verschaffeltii

French common name

Botanical family

  • Acanthaceae
Horticulture

Growing conditions

Fittonia prefers a very soft filtered light, a little brighter in winter. Protect it from direct sunlight, near a window preferably facing north or east. This plant does best in a hot and humid environment, but adapts to normal indoor temperatures (18-21ºC) if they do not fall below 15°C. Avoid cold drafts and keep air humidity high, especially if the temperature is above 25ºC.

Easy to grow?

Growing Fittonia is quite difficult unless you grow this plant in a terrarium where the humidity can be kept high. Flowering, though not spectacular, is regular in good conditions.

Watering and fertilizer

The leaves and stems soften quickly when water is scarce. In spring and summer, water when the soil surface becomes dry to the touch. Never let the soil dry out. Check daily for subsoil conditions, especially during hot and dry periods. There should not be any water left standing in the saucer, as the roots of Fittonia are susceptible to both too much and too little water. Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer for houseplants, or an all-purpose fertilizer such as 20-20-20, every two months during the growing season (March to October).

Pruning and maintenance

If Fittonia blooms, remove the flowers to focus on the development of more foliage. Pinch the terminal buds regularly for a compact and bushy plant.

Repotting

Fittonia has a spreading, superficial root system. Grow it in a wide, shallow pot, transplanting in the spring. Use a soil rich in organic matter, for example a commercial mixture for tropical plants, which drains well.

Propagation

Pests and diseases

Root Rot

Physiological disorders

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