proper light and water conditions for fittonia

Discussion in 'Houseplants' started by zgillenwater, Apr 19, 2007.

  1. zgillenwater

    zgillenwater New Seed

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    I have a red vein fittonia in my office that I bought last fall that has been slowly dying ever since. I have no idea what I am doing wrong and really need help!

    Here's the whole saga: (which you can skip if you just want to give me advice on fittonia in general)

    Back in fall 2003 I was in a cubicle, with its open side facing a tinted, south-facing window, about 10 feet from my desk. I got a peace lily and a white brocade fittonia, and they both did great for a while.

    Then in mid-2004, I moved into my own office with no windows. To give my plants some light, I left my fluorescent office lights on every night. Both plants were stable for quite a while. They weren't growing or thriving, but not dying. But then, after perhaps 8 months or a year, one of the stalks of the fittonia started drooping. That stalk slowly dried up and died. Then another stalk started...

    In early 2006, I moved into another office, the one I'm currently in, and it has a huge, non-tinted east-facing window, which I never lower the blinds on. However, the window gets very little direct sunlight, because there are lots of tree branches filtering it, and because the building juts out on the right side of the window and the sun moves behind it and over the building after about 10 am. Nevertheless, I thought I might be able to finally save my fittonia with a little real light. I moved both plants into the new office on top of my filing cabinet so they were about 10 feet from the window and never touched by direct sun, but got a little real light. Nevertheless, the last stalk of the fittonia drooped and it completely died not long after I moved to my current office.

    Not to be deterred, I bought another fittonia last fall, and it's slowly been drooping and dying. A couple months ago I moved it onto the windowsill, but the right side, which only gets some direct sunlight for about an hour in the morning, in a desperate attempt to change its conditions and save it. So far, it's doing no good. It's not worse, but not better. I have no idea if I'm watering it too much or not enough. I try to keep the soil "moderately moist" as its tag says, but who really knows what that means?!

    Please, I'm determined to not let my second fittonia die if I can at all help it. Can anyone help me?
     
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  3. eileen

    eileen Resident Taxonomist Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    I would invest in a small terranium before your plant dies from lack of humidity. When watering into a terranium spray water on to insides of the terranium glass - preferably not on to the leaves of the plant in case it causes burn to the leaves when sunlight hits them.

    Until you get a terranium though you can use a clear plastic bag and an elastic band.

    Water the plant first - not too much. Pierce small holes with a needle or pin in the bag and then place over your existing pot and plant. Use the elastic band to hold the bag in place. Every few days remove the bag, water your plant and replace. Remember though this is only a temporary solution but it may stop your plant from dying until a suitable terranium ( or narrow necked, wide bottomed glass container)is found. Good luck!!!
     
  4. zgillenwater

    zgillenwater New Seed

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    Ok, I'll get a terrarium, but now I'm nervous, because I have very little experience with regular houseplants, and now I have to go and learn a whole other houseplant care method! When I put it in the terrarium, do I keep it in the pot? How often do I water it?

    What about the light conditions? Should I keep the terrarium and the fittonia in the windowsill or move it back?

    Thanks very much!
     
  5. glendann

    glendann Official Garden Angel

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    Fittonia verschaffeltii var. argyroneura
    (fi-TON-ee-ah)
    Nerve Plant
    ACANTHACEAE

    Fittonia is probably one of the easiest houseplants one can own.

    People forget to water them, move them, deprive the plants of light, and don't repot them, but fittonia is the most forgiving ever.

    It is a small plant in structure and has great white vein patterns on its leaves. It is know as the "nerve" plant and sports colors of light green and pink.

    The fittonia is very attractive.

    It can grow 3 - 4 inches and will produce stems from the side rather than upright.

    It is not known for its flowers because they are sporadic.

    Good, bright light is a requirement, but will grow equally well under artificial light.

    The soil should be evenly moist. Misting is very good during the winter months. Humidity will always enhance this plant.

    Keep pinching for a full plant and to keep it vigorously growing.

    You can fertilize every two weeks.
     
  6. eileen

    eileen Resident Taxonomist Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    Please don't be nervous it's really very easy!! :-D Just put some multi-purpose compost in the bottom of you terranium or bottlejar and pop your little plant in -it's the same as normal repotting. Your red vein fittonia shouldn't need a lot of water once it's in its new home - watering it every 4-5 days should be fine - but not too much as you don't want the roots to rot. As to keeping it on the windowsill I don't really see why you should have to move it. It will still require some natural light so it should be fine.
    I had mine in a large, green bottlejar with a bulbous bottom and narrow neck and it thrived.
     

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