Houseplants forum: Fittonia Care?

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EarthGrl
Aug 13, 2016 1:31 AM CST
I recently acquired a fittonia and I know that these plants are difficult to care for, so I would like some help from more experienced gardeners.

I work the night shift so it's necessary for me to keep dark shades on my windows. Very little light passes through. These guys prefer indirect sunlight, but will they survive in complete shade? If not, could I use an artificial light and point it directly at it, maybe a farther-than-usual distance away from it?
Also, I have it in a terrarium with no drainage. Should I put pebbles at the bottom to help with this?

Thumb of 2016-08-13/EarthGrl/ee4519


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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional interior landscaper
Image
WillC
Aug 13, 2016 8:45 AM CST
Honestly, dark shades will prevent you from providing adequate light for even the lowest light plants and Fittonia is not one of those. Incandescent lights emit light in the wrong part of the light spectrum for plant growth. CFL's are beneficial for low light plants as long as they are left on for at least 8 hours each day and are no more than a couple of feet away from the plant.

Fittonias do require the increased humidity that a terrarium provides. Drainage material is usually recommended, but not essential as long as you are very careful not to water too heavily or too frequently. Keep the soil moderately damp, but not wet.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
[url=www.HorticulturalHelp.com]www.HorticulturalHelp.com[/url]

EarthGrl
Aug 13, 2016 12:48 PM CST
I'll get a CFL light.
I will probably add pebbles to the bottom of the terrarium just to be safe.
Thank you!

One more thing: I just noticed today that the leaves are curling and there is a tiny brown, dried out spot on one leaf. What could this indicate?
I've been misting it a few times a day and I water lightly every three days. Could this be the problem or do you think it's the low light?
Thanks again!
Name: Laurie Basler
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids
Image
lauriebasler
Aug 14, 2016 12:30 AM CST
They hate to dry up, and leaves do curl to let you know it. You could put a glass cover over it some of the time to really amp up the humidity. Fittonia have fuzzy leaves, so if you feel misting is necessary, try to mist as lightly as possible. They really are not the easiest of plants. Pinch it to try to encourage branching as their shape gets wonky if not pruned often.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional interior landscaper
Image
WillC
Aug 14, 2016 12:39 PM CST
Laurie makes a good point. It is better to maintain humidity by using a cover than by misting the leaves.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
[url=www.HorticulturalHelp.com]www.HorticulturalHelp.com[/url]

EarthGrl
Sep 2, 2016 11:02 AM CST
Thank you! I've been misting every morning, but I am in the process of finding a closed terrarium. The leaves are most definitely curling, would a closed container help with this issue?
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional interior landscaper
Image
WillC
Sep 5, 2016 12:33 PM CST
Daily misting is of little value in raising the humidity. The humidity is increased only as long as the water droplets remain visible on the leaves. That may be as little as 10 minutes out of a 24 hour day. So, yes, a closed terrarium is a much better way to maintain high humidity for your Fittonia. That said, if you notice water droplets forming on the inside of the glass cover, then you will need to open the top a bit to decrease the humidity a bit.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
[url=www.HorticulturalHelp.com]www.HorticulturalHelp.com[/url]
Georgia (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Georgia Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Houseplants Cactus and Succulents
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Hamwild
Sep 5, 2016 3:41 PM CST
I read somewhere once that these plants are short lived (their lifespan), that they live a maximum of 2 years. Is that true? Confused

EarthGrl
Sep 7, 2016 12:39 AM CST
WillC thank you for your input.
I covered the container with a Tupperware lid, and eventually I'll invest in a closed terrarium. I have noticed that there is water on the sides of the glass so I'll take the lid off for a day.
Georgia (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Georgia Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Houseplants Cactus and Succulents
Image
Hamwild
Sep 7, 2016 10:12 AM CST
WillC said:Daily misting is of little value in raising the humidity. The humidity is increased only as long as the water droplets remain visible on the leaves. That may be as little as 10 minutes out of a 24 hour day. So, yes, a closed terrarium is a much better way to maintain high humidity for your Fittonia. That said, if you notice water droplets forming on the inside of the glass cover, then you will need to open the top a bit to decrease the humidity a bit.


I am sorry to "hijack" the OP's thread, but would a 10g tank with say a glass lid work as well? I have one and someone once suggested using it for plants, but I never really looked into it. Or would a terrarium be better suited?
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional interior landscaper
Image
WillC
Sep 10, 2016 10:04 AM CST
Hamwild - Fittonias can certainly live longer than 2 years if given proper care, although that is not easy in the average home. Fittonias do need regular pruning as they age.

Any enclosed container that is primarily transparent will work as a terrarium.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
[url=www.HorticulturalHelp.com]www.HorticulturalHelp.com[/url]
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Sep 10, 2016 10:39 AM CST
When planting a terrarium, it's good to remember that some plants (including Fittonia) will grow tall so pruning is really important. As you can see in some of my old photos below, the plants will end up reaching the top the container if not pruned to keep them in check.
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The only terrarium I currently have planted up is the old 45 gal. aquarium shown below and the Aglaonema is growing out the top/ I've been saying for many months that I need to either chop it back or remove it and plant something that will stay shorter ... but I'm old and lazy so it's hasn't happened yet. Smiling
Thumb of 2016-09-10/plantladylin/195ff5

@Hamwild, a 10 gal aquarium makes for a nice terrarium ... just be sure to wash and rinse it well before planting it up. I still have an old one that I want to replant at some point.
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Georgia (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Georgia Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Houseplants Cactus and Succulents
Image
Hamwild
Sep 10, 2016 1:34 PM CST
@plantladylin What kind of lid do you use for yours? I have a plastic "screen" lid, but I'm sure that would let a lot of humidity out. ::rubs hands together:: Maybe now I can grow certain plants that seem to be spider mite magnets. nodding Hilarious!
[Last edited by Hamwild - Sep 10, 2016 1:34 PM (+)]
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Georgia (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Georgia Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Houseplants Cactus and Succulents
Image
Hamwild
Sep 10, 2016 1:35 PM CST
WillC said:Hamwild - Fittonias can certainly live longer than 2 years if given proper care, although that is not easy in the average home. Fittonias do need regular pruning as they age.

Any enclosed container that is primarily transparent will work as a terrarium.


That is good to know. They sure are pretty, it would be a shame for them to be so short-lived. I don't remember where I read that, but it sounded rather odd to me.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
Image
plantladylin
Sep 10, 2016 1:46 PM CST
The lids are glass ... they came with the aquariums.
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Georgia (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Georgia Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Houseplants Cactus and Succulents
Image
Hamwild
Sep 10, 2016 2:40 PM CST
Mine sadly came without a lid (I purchased the black plastic lid), but I do know where I can find a glass one. ::rubs hands together again:: *Blush*
[Last edited by Hamwild - Sep 10, 2016 2:40 PM (+)]
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Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
Image
plantladylin
Sep 10, 2016 5:25 PM CST
The black plastic lid should work to keep the humidity in. I'm a bit of a klutz at times and I've broken more than my share of glass lids over the years, when that happens I cover the top of the glass with saran wrap. The same could be done for an aquarium/terrarium too. You just have to remember to vent it on occasion.
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Georgia (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Georgia Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Houseplants Cactus and Succulents
Image
Hamwild
Sep 10, 2016 6:22 PM CST
Thank You!
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
Image
plantladylin
Sep 11, 2016 6:34 AM CST
I tip my hat to you.
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~

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