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How To Propagate Nerve Plant: Top Methods With Pro Tips

How To Propagate Nerve Plant: Top Methods With Pro Tips

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Fittonias are incredible plants due to their dark green leaves and fascinating white, red, or pink veins, depending on the species.

These easy-to-grow air purifiers make great indoor plants, and also look amazing when grown as ground covers outdoors.

If you want more of these wonderful plants, you need to learn how to propagate nerve plant. I’ll show you how to get more new Fittonias in a couple of simple steps, and also how to keep them healthy and happy throughout the year.

Before we move on, here’s some basic info!

Family: Acanthaceae
Scientific name:Fittonia albivenis
Common names:Nerve plants, mosaic plants, painted net leaf
Native habitat:South America (Peru)
Plant type:Perennial
USDA hardiness zones:11

Let’s get started!

How To Propagate Nerve Plant

Getting new mosaic plants is an interesting and simple activity. You can use three methods for multiplication: stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, and seeds.

Let’s get into details!

Propagation By Stem Cuttings

The method that has the highest success rate and is most commonly used for the propagation of painted net leaf plants is stem cuttings.

After you take the cuttings, you can root them in water or plant them directly in the soil.

I’ll show you the procedures for both in detail.

Let’s start with the equipment you’ll need.

What To Prepare Before You Start Propagating

Before you start propagation, you should prepare the materials and houseplant tools you’ll need so that you have everything in one place.

The first thing is a cutting tool. Two things matter when it comes to these tools; first, you need to consider the type. This mainly depends on you and what you usually use for gardening. A pair of scissors or shears work well for this purpose.

The second thing to pay attention to is sharpness. One of the easiest ways to damage plants is by using blunt tools.

You can use gloves if you don’t like getting dirt on your hands. Make sure they’re made of the right materials and are an appropriate size.

The next thing to prepare is the container. Please pay attention to size and material – I recommend 2-inch pots made of plastics for better moisture retention. You’ll need a glass, jar, terrarium, or transparent vase for water propagation.

You’ll need a rooting hormone. Many skip using it, but it’s great for boosting root sprouting.

The cuttings need a lot of humidity and moisture, and you can achieve this by covering the cutting with a plastic bag.

You’ll also need an appropriate potting mix for mosaic plants, as every propagation method needs soil.

Finally, prepare a sterilizing solution to keep things clean and avoid contamination.

How To Take The Cuttings

For successful propagation, you’ll need a healthy nerve plant. Cuttings that appear wilted, aged, or strained from root rot should not be taken and neither should cuttings without nodes, which won’t develop any roots.

Select stems that are longer so that you can remove the lower few leaves.

Remove the leaves from the base of the stem by cutting them off a few inches above the mosaic plant root using sterile pruning shears.
Carefully remove any extra leaves so there are only two to three leaves left on the stem’s tip.

This diminishes the possibility of transpiration (the process by which water passes through a plant and becomes gas) and plant shock.

Root The Cuttings In Water

Now you have the nerve plant stem cutting, the next thing is to root it in water.

The container (glass, jar, or transparent vase) should be filled with water that has low concentrations of chlorine and fluoride. The best would be if you could use rainwater or filtered water.

Now, gently put the cutting in water. Bear in mind that the bottom of the cutting should be submerged in water.

Add more water if the warm weather seems to be causing it to evaporate.

It would be best if you didn’t cover the cutting with a plastic bag at this point as it may raise humidity levels.

If you decide to root the cuttings in water, don’t forget to change the water approximately every three days.

New roots need at least one week to sprout, and it can even take longer, so don’t worry if you don’t notice any in a week or two.

Once you notice the cutting has developed healthy new roots, it’s time to transfer it to the pot.

Transfer The Cuttings To Soil

If you don’t like water propagation, or you think it won’t succeed, you can root the cutting directly in the soil.

First you need a pot like the one I described above. Then you must fill the pot with potting mix. When it comes to potting soil, you can purchase a ready mix such as soil mix for African violets.

You can also make your own mix by adding equal amounts of perlite, coarse sand, peat moss, and hummus. There’s no need to add any plant food at this stage.

The next step is to pre-soak the soil as it will be easier to insert the cutting. You should also make a hole in the potting mix with your finger, just make sure it’s not too big or too small.

Now dip the cutting in a rooting hormone. Gently insert the cutting in the hole and add more potting mix to help the cutting stay firm.

Your cutting needs water at this point, so water the potting mix, but please be careful with water as you don’t want to destroy it before it develops roots.

You’ll need to keep the soil moist until you notice new growth. I recommend misting and covering the cutting with a plastic bag, just don’t forget to uncover it from time to time.

You’ll most likely notice a robust feeder root and new leaves in about two to three weeks. After that, you can resume your regular watering regimen.

Find An Appropriate Place For The Cutting

No matter what rooting method you use, your cutting needs a specific light level so that it can develop healthy roots.

Even though Fittonia plants are tropical plants, they aren’t exposed to direct sun in their native habitat.

This is especially important for newly developed plants, as the direct sunlight can cause sunburns or even death.

I recommend placing the nerve plant cutting in bright indirect light. If you are a beginner, finding a place with the perfect light level may be challenging, but there are some tips and tricks that will help you with this.

Although you can place the cutting near any window, some spots work better than others.

For example, north-facing windows are known for low light levels, so if you decide to place the cuttings there, you’ll need to use grow lights. Otherwise, your nerve plant may get leggy.

South-facing windows receive a lot of direct suns, sometimes too much for plants. Consider buying some sheer curtains if you decide to place a Fittonia cutting near these windows.

Finally, east and west-facing windowsills will work perfectly as the direct sunlight is typical for morning hours. For the rest of the day, your cutting will receive indirect sunlight.

Propagating Fittonia Through Leaf Cuttings

The easiest way to get new nerve plants is through stem cuttings, but you can also use the leaf cuttings method.

There are some things you need to know before using this method. The first one is about the success rate.

Propagation by leaf cuttings has a lower success rate as the leaves themselves are more delicate.

The second thing is the time needed for root development. You’ll need to wait longer for the new roots to develop, but if you do everything right you won’t need to wait too long.

The essential thing for the leaf cutting method to succeed is taking the leaf cutting properly. You need a healthy Fittonia, and any diseased, damaged, or dead leaves should be pruned before propagation.

Now the question is where to make the cut. Find where the stem and the petiole connect and cut using sanitized and sharp scissors or shears.

After taking the cutting, the procedure is the same as stem cutting. You can root it in water or plant it directly in the soil.

If rooting in water, pay extra attention so the water never gets dirty. React immediately if you notice any rotten parts or a foul odor coming from the jar/glass/transparent vase.

How To Grow A Nerve Plant From Seeds

Many experienced growers, including myself, will tell you that the hardest way to propagate plants like Fittonias is through seeds.

Why is it so challenging? First, you’ll need to find viable seeds. You can search for them on Amazon, but make sure they are real Fittonia seeds.

You also need to purchase a germination tray. Remember that seeds need more time to germinate, so patience is one of the keys to successful seed germination.

It’s possible that new seedlings won’t exhibit all of the traits of the parent plant and, in some situations, not even germinate.

Any new plants may not look like the ‘original’ Fittonias.

So, if you want to get a new Fittonia quickly you might want to consider one of the two methods I described earlier.

When Should You Propagate Fittonia Plant?

Believe it or not, the season when you take the cuttings will determine the outcome of propagation.

The growing season for Fittonias starts in the spring. It lasts until early fall, so I recommend taking the cuttings then.

This is because the plant displays new growth at this time, so the cutting will develop roots earlier. This is extremely important as the roots are less susceptible to root rot.

The spring is also the best time to repot Fittonias, so you can take the cuttings when you are repotting so that you don’t have to get your hands dirty twice!

Why avoid cutting and rooting during winter? Nerve plants rest during the winter, and this phase is commonly known as dormancy. Active growth is absent during this time, so the chances for successful propagation are really low.

The Benefits Of Propagating Nerve Plant

Nerve plants are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful houseplants for many reasons. The white, pink, or red veins make all growers want more of these plants.

But that’s not all; this plant has much more to offer, so let’s see why you should get more of them!

It Makes A Great Addition To Any Home

Their general appearance is why Fittonias are such popular houseplants.

The Fittonia albivenis features fascinating dark green leaves with distinctive red, pink, or white veins.

Another reason is the plant’s ability to remove harmful substances from the air. If you grow Fittonias, there will be lower concentrations of harmful toxins such as carbon dioxide or formaldehyde.

It’s A Great Gift For Plant-loving Friends

Honestly, it’s harder to pick a perfect gift for my friends than to keep my plants healthy! But, if your friends are plant-lovers, gifting them plants is the best way to go.

Gifting a Fittonia sounds like a great idea if they are beginner growers, as the best plants to start with are low-maintenance ones.

There’s no need to spend a fortune on flower arrangements as you can propagate Fittonia and gift it to your loved ones!

It’s Affordable

One of the best things about propagation is that it’s cheap! Believe it or not, some indoor plants cost a fortune, so multiplying the plants you already have will help you save money!

If you don’t believe me, visit plant stores or search for plants online and you’ll soon know what I’m talking about.

Growing new plants is also interesting, and that feeling when you see a happy and thriving plant can’t be compared to anything else.

A Way To Save The Plant

Plants can’t survive some conditions, such as root rot from overwatering or some other fungal diseases.

The only thing that’s left in this case is propagation.

I know how disheartening it can be to see your Fittonia dying, but getting a new Fittonia from it can compensate for the loss.

Common Mistakes When Propagating

There are a few things you ought to be aware of when it comes to the propagation process.

The most common problem that occurs during this period is the rotting of the cuttings. Of course, this usually affects cuttings you’ve been rooting in water.

If you don’t change the water regularly, it will become attractive to fungi that cause rotting. If you notice the water is brownish and has a foul odor, there’s likely something rotten in it.

The best thing would be to take the cutting out of the container, clean it, and place it in some fresh water.

Another common issue is the light level. It would help if you placed the containers with the cuttings somewhere with indirect light. The new leaves will become pale if the container is exposed to direct sunshine even for a little while.

Avoid placing the cutting in low light as the chances of root development significantly decrease.

The worst thing you can do is be impatient. The roots should sprout in a relatively short period, but if they don’t it doesn’t mean they never will.

Check the light level, humidity, soil, water, and overall health of the cutting. If everything seems fine, wait a little bit more – they are just about to sprout!

Nerve Plant Care Guide After Propagation

Some growers claim that these plants aren’t low-maintenance, but once you learn the basics they’ll be easy to maintain.

The essential thing to understand is that these plants originally grew in rainforests, so all you need to do is to mimic those conditions in your house.

It may sound complicated and hard to achieve, but you can definitely do it.

Light Requirements

I mentioned that these plants despise direct sun because too much sun exposure causes sunburns on the leaves that are hard to deal with.

The watering schedule changes if the plant receives more light than it needs, so you’ll likely also be dealing with watering issues.

Ensure bright indirect sunlight using the tips I provided above.

Temperature & Humidity Requirements

Although this plant can survive in temperatures slightly lower than 60 and slightly higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it does best when the temperatures are around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Nerve plants are also big fans of high humidity, and 60 to 70% humidity should work great.

However, most households don’t have such high percentages of humidity, so you’ll need to boost it a little bit.

Luckily, there are some easy ways to achieve this. You can mist your nerve plants regularly or place a humidity tray underneath the pot.

One more method is by grouping your plants. If you grow Fittonia argyroneura, verschaffeltii, or any succulents, placing them near your nerve plant is a great idea.

You can also put your Fittonia in a kitchen or bathroom as the humidity levels are higher.

Finally, consider investing in a humidifier if you want to be on the safe side.

What Type Of Soil Does A Nerve Plant Need?

The best soil for nerve plants is based on peat moss.

It also needs to be slightly acidic with a pH of 6.5.

Last, but not least, make sure you pay close attention to drainage. Remember that too much water in the soil is dangerous for the roots of this plant, so make sure you mix materials such as perlite or orchid bark into the potting soil.

How And When To Water The Fittonia Albivenis

Fittonias adore moist soil, and they can display legginess, wilting, drooping, and yellow leaves if the soil isn’t moist enough.

On the other hand, you definitely want to avoid waterlogged soil. The roots of these plants are delicate, and if they sit in water for an extended period they’ll quickly develop root rot.

So, when should you water these plants? The best idea would be to wait until the top 2 inches of the soil are dry. If the bottom half of the soil is dry, you’ll need to add more water and water more often until your plant is back on track.

If your mosaic plant is dehydrated, it’ll need some time to recover.

Fertilization Schedule

These plants aren’t heavy feeders and only require fertilization during the growing season.

Another essential thing about fertilization is the fertilizer type. You’ll need to go with a weak fertilizer such as 5-5-5 and dilute it to half a strength.

How To Repot A Fittonia

Remember that these plants grow pretty fast, so you’ll need to repot them every year. When repotting, pay attention to the pot size and material.

These plants don’t like water pooling around their roots, so get a pot with drainage holes to allow the excess water to leave.

When it comes to the pot size, choose the one that’s slightly larger (about 2 inches) in diameter.

Pots made of plastic or terracotta will help with moisture, so I recommend them.

Inspect Your Plant Regularly

Although this Fittonia plant isn’t prone to diseases, some may still occur. The most common one that affects this type of plant is root rot.

The disease mainly occurs due to overwatering, so you’ll need to take your mosaic plant out of its pot, remove any diseased roots, and repot the plant.

Yellow, wilting, droopy, or crispy leaves may occur if you don’t supply your plant with enough water. You’ll need to water your mosaic plant more frequently until you see signs of improvement.

Pests such as aphids, mealybugs, or spider mites may infest this plant and cause serious problems if not treated in time.
Rubbing alcohol or neem oil will help you remove these creatures if they ever pay a visit.


What does the nerve plant need to grow?

In order to grow healthy and thrive, nerve plants need conditions similar to those in rainforests. You need to ensure bright indirect light and keep your plant away from direct sun.

These plants also require more water compared to other common indoor plants. The trickiest part of caring for this plant is ensuring the right humidity level, and you’ll need to keep it between 60 and 70%.

These plants also need well draining, moist, and slightly acidic soil to grow fast and healthy.

Ensure warmer temperatures, repot annually, and inspect regularly to make your mosaic plant happier than ever!

What is the root of a nerve plant?

The roots of nerve plants are underground structures that are firm and grayish-white in color when healthy. If the roots are black or brown, your plant is most likely suffering from root rot.

What is the stem made of?

Stems and all other plant parts develop from ground tissue, and they are predominantly composed of simple tissues made up of the parenchyma, collenchyma, and sclerenchyma cell types.

Additionally, stems feature three tissue systems, vascular, ground, and dermal tissue. Each is differentiated by distinctive cell types that carry out particular functions essential to the growth and survival of the plant.

Wrapping Up

Fittonias make perfect houseplants due to their ease of care and stunning appearance.

It’s pretty simple to propagate nerve plant, and you can do it in three ways: stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, and seeds.

If you are a beginner, I highly recommend cutting the stem and rooting it because it’s easy, has a high success rate, and this type of cutting develops the roots in a short period.

So, get some tools and propagate some new Fittonias for your house!

Until next time!