How to Propagate Fittonia (Nerve Plant)?

Fittonia
Fittonia (Source: Unsplash)

Fittonia makes a great ornamental plant, thanks to its striking multi-colored leaves that are guaranteed to enhance your tabletop, desktops, hanging baskets, and terrariums.

No wonder you would want to multiply this beautiful plant to spread to different parts of the house.

Fittonia is relatively easy to propagate at home, where you can reproduce multiple plants simultaneously using different proven methods.

Generally, to propagate the Fittonia, root the stem cuttings or leaves cuttings in the soil or water. The cutting will start producing roots in just 2-3 weeks and be ready for potting in at least 4-5 weeks.

Young Fittonia in a pot
Young Fittonia in a pot (Source: Pexels.com)

Propagating seedlings is another way, but the results may vary.

Your plant will mature within 3-4 months and start producing signature decorative leaves when everything is done correctly.

If you are trying to propagate and grow Fittonia at home, this article is a must-read.

Reasons to Propagate Fittonia

Fittonia albivenis, also known as the Nerve Plant, is a popular houseplant around the home and office.

Propagating your beloved houseplant will give some immense benefits, which are as follows;

1. It Enhances Interior Décor

Although a timid and delicate-looking plant, it produces lush green foliage with characteristic white, red, pink, and yellow-colored lines, which makes it a significant attraction.

Moreover, a healthy plant effectively eliminates harmful carbon dioxide and naturally cleanses indoor air to promote a healthy lifestyle

These alone should be reason enough to propagate the plant and spread throughout the house.

Fittonia leaves decoration
Fittonia leaves decoration (Source: Pixabay.com)

2. To Gift your Loved One

Fittonia is a striking plant to have around the house and gift your loved ones.

Therefore, what could be better than propagating your plant to produce another striking plant to gift your loved ones.

Because they come with so many benefits and need minimal care, your friends and families would love to own one and keep it in their home or office.

3. To Save a Stressed Plant

If your Fittonia seems to be stressed out due to a lack of nutrients or facing a root rot, it would need soil change.

While repotting the plant, you can take a few healthy cutting and propagate them in different containers.

By propagating the healthy cutting, you can get a couple more Fittonia plants for the decoration.

What is the Best Time to Propagate Fittonia?

The growing season is ideally the only time to propagate Fittonia as it helps for new growth of the plant stem and leaves.

Propagating them in the growing season (spring and summer) will help new cuttings quickly grow feeder roots and fresh foliage.

It also gives your plant enough time to grow since roots will quickly increase in the new soil, reducing the chances of root rot.

Moreover, your current plant will effectively heal itself from damages caused by fresh cuttings.

Note: Another thing to consider is repotting. You can propagate your plant when you are transplanting it to a new pot or changing the soil.

However, avoid propagating and repotting during winter to prevent disturbing the plant roots.

Fittonia propagation
Propagating Fittonia plant (source: pexels.com)

Fittonia Propagation Methods

Did you know that you can use any part of the Fittonia plant for reproduction?

Fittonia gives out healthy leaves and stems that can be used to reproduce another healthy plant.

You can propagate Fittonia through three different methods.

  • Stem Cuttings
  • Leaves Cuttings
  • Seedlings

1. Propagating Stem Cuttings

Propagating from stem cutting is an easy and reliable method and often the only choice.

The stems quickly grow feeder roots that will start taking up nutrients from the soil or water instantly, where you will start seeing results within a week.

Therefore, you will likely see tremendous success while propagating the stem cuttings, making it a popular method.

Cutting Stem for propagation
Cutting Stem for propagation (Source: pexels.com)

2. Propagating Leaves Cutting

Propagating leaves cutting is an alternative method because it has a slightly lesser success rate compared to propagating stem cuttings.

It may also take longer to propagate from leave cuttings than stem cutting because leaves naturally take longer to grow feeder roots.

Propagating leaves cutting may be moderately successful compared to stem cuttings. Therefore, try not to make any mistakes when propagating leaves cuttings,

Cut the petiole where it meets the Stem. You can either hang it to the edge of a glass of water or insert the petiole in the soil.

3. Propagating Seedlings

Propagating a seed is similar to producing a plant from the source that involves rooting the seed in a germination tray.

However, this process is complex and takes a longer time to produce yields.

New seedlings may not produce the exact characteristics of the parent plant, and in some cases, fail to germinate altogether.

Therefore, propagating from cuttings should naturally be a suitable choice!

Fittonia Propagation Medium

Whatever propagation method you choose, you will still have to decide between the two propagation mediums.

  • Soil Propagation
  • Water Propagation

1. Soil Propagation

Although water propagation tends to be a popular choice, soil propagation also makes a recommended propagation medium.

The plant roots can habituate to potting soil from the start and may not require repotting to another soil mix.

Plant experts suggest that cutting develops a better root system in soil than they do in the water.

Eventually, you will have to grow your plant in the potting mix. So, starting in the soil itself will be easier for the root system to adapt.

However, propagating in soil requires a good balance of soil mixture, airflow, humidity, warmth, and healthy microorganisms at all times. Thus, they need more care and attention.

2. Water Propagation

Water propagation is a more common method because Stem and leaves cutting naturally grow roots in the water.

The Hydroponic method (water propagation) takes up less water than soil propagation. The water quickly provides hydration and oxygen to the plant.

Water Propgataion Medium
Water Propgataion Medium (Source: pexels.com)

Water propagation has its advantages, where you can see the roots growing to help assess the conditions at all times.

In addition, you would have a better idea when they are ready to be potted in the soil.

However, ensure to use tepid water (chemical-less water) for hydroponics and change it every 3-5 days to avoid root damages.

Alternatively, you can use a plant terrarium to propagate fresh cutting at home.

A Step by Step Guide to Propagate Fittonia

Considering the success rate and ease of application for newbie gardeners, we recommend Stem and leaves cuttings methods for Fittonia propagation.

Materials Required

Here is the list of materials required for the propagation

ItemSpecification
Pruning Shear or ScissorGet a sharp pruning shear or scissors to cut the healthy part of the plant.
Gardening glovesThese are entirely optional.
ContainerChoose plastic pots that hold up moisture.

For propagating, use small pots  2” deep like egg crates, seed tray.

Alternatively, you can use a single pot 6-8” in size to propagate multiple cuttings.
Potting MixChoose a potting mix that retains some moisture but allows good drainage.

Prepare homemade mix by adding an equal part of peat moss, humus, coarse sand, and perlite.

Alternatively, use an African violet soil mix.
Rooting PowderThe rooting hormone helps to boost root growth.
Plastic bagUse a black plastic bag to cover the newly propagated plant to retain humidity, moisture, and warmth.
Disinfectant or rubbing alcoholIt will come in handy to sterilize the tools.

1. Prepare Your Cuttings

  • Start with determining the best time to take the cutting: when repotting your plant or salvaging a dying plant. In either case, carefully inspect the plant for healthy shoots with plenty of foliage.
  • Avoid taking cuttings that look wilted, old, or stressed from root rot.
  • Choose longer stems, so you can strip the bottom few leaves when propagating.
  • Use a sterilized pruning shear to snip off the Stem a few inches above the root and remove the leaves from the Stem’s bottom.
  • Care to remove excess leaves from the stem tip to only leave one or two leaf pairs. Doing so will reduce the risk of transpiration (converting water from liquid to gas through the plant) and plant stress.
  • If you are using leaves cutting, cut a few healthy-looking leaves just above the Stem.

2. Propagating in Soil

  • Start with finding a small pot or small trays. Here is a small plastic pot for seedlings and cuttings.
  • Prepare a potting mix at home by combining an equal part of peat moss, perlite, coarse sand, and humus. There is no need to add fertilizers or compost. Alternatively, you can choose African Violet Soil Mix.
  • Pre-soak the potting mix to make it slightly moist.
  • Make small holes about half an inch using your finger to fit into the cuttings.
  • Before rooting the cutting, dip the base of the cutting into the rooting hormone. It will significantly help to boost the rooting process.
  • Gently insert the cutting into the potting mix using your hand and tighten the base with potting mix to keep it firmly in place.
  • Water the potting mix thoroughly and let the excess water drain out from the bottom.
  • Place your cuttings in an area that receives enough indirect sunlight, such as the south-facing window.
  • Water to keep the soil moist at all times but do not constantly saturate it with water until the roots are well established.
  • If the temperature is low, consider covering the potting mix with black plastic to maintain the warmth. However, open the mix once in a while to let the fresh air in.
  • It may take 3-4 weeks before you can see a healthy feeder root and new foliage. Afterward, you can continue with your usual watering schedule.

Quick Tip: If you see mold growth on the potting mix, which means excessive humidity, immediately remove any covering from the top and expose the cutting to fresh air.

3. Propagating in Water

Start with preparing your cuttings as outlined above.

  • Choose an appropriately sized container; a glass jar, a glass cup, or a terrarium rack.
  • Fill the container with tepid or dechlorinated water. (Use rainwater or distilled water whenever possible)
  • Gently immerse the cutting into the container. Remember to keep the base of the cutting wholly immersed.
  • If the water seems to be drying up due to warm temperature, top it up.
  • Place the container in bright, indirect sunlight.
  • Avoid covering the cutting with a plastic bag as it may rapidly boost the humidity levels.
  • Replace the water every 3-5 days with fresh tepid water, or consider replacing it when it starts getting cloudy with algae.
  • It may take well over a week to see new root growth. So let it sit for a while until you see healthy feeder root and some foliage.
  • Once ready, you can repot the cutting into a potting mix.

How Long Before I Can Pot My New Cutting?

Cuttings grown in soil may start producing roots slightly slower than cuttings grown in water.

However, you can expect to see initial feeder roots within 2-3 weeks.

These initial roots are too delicate to be potted in a new mix in a large container; hence, let them sit and grow further for 2-3 weeks.

How to Safely Transplant the Cutting?

You can transplant your rooted cuttings in a potting mix after six weeks.

For cuttings grown in the soil, let them sit until the roots become too big for the pot.

  • Find a right-sized pot that provides enough room for the roots to grow. Choose pots 2-3″ more significant than the root system. For example, if the root is 2″ long, choose a 4″ pot for the starter.
  • Go for a plastic or glazed ceramic pot with two or more drainage holes.
  • Prepare an ideal potting mix that retains moisture while removing excess water.
  • Add 1-2″ of potting mix into the pot and carefully place the rooted cutting into it. Cover the root with soil and leave just about an inch of space between the soil and bottom leaves.
  • Water the mix thoroughly until the excess water flows through the drainage hole.
  • Now, let it sit in a warm location with enough indirect sunlight.

Voila! Your new cutting should start producing lush foliage within 3-4 months.

Read more about Transferring your Cuttings to Potting Soil

Taking Care of Newly Potted Plants

A newly potted plant needs more caring and attention than mature plants.

When tending for your newly potted plant, care to follow these guidelines.

1. Enough Indirect Lighting

Start with finding an ideal location around the house where it can receive enough indirect sunlight.

Native to the tropical region of Peru, Fittonia loves a bright yet shaded location with adequate filtered lighting.

They are best kept in the South-facing window that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight but keeps them away from the direct light source as it may quickly burn the plant leaves.

Consider moving them indoors and keeping them under fluorescent or LED lights for at least 4-6 hours when the day looks gloomy.

2. Adequate Watering

Watering is essential for a newly potted plant because excess watering may easily damage the root system.

It is prone to collapse if the soil is left to dry out for a long time. You would notice drooping leaves when the plant becomes thirsty!

Water the plant once a week during the growing season, but let an inch of topsoil dry out between watering.

During winter, cut back on watering to once every 10-12 days.

Moreover, use tepid or dechlorinated water to protect the plant root from chlorine and fluoride poisoning.

Are your newly repotted plant leaves dropping, find out more about it at Why is My Monstera Drooping After Repotting?

3. Adequate Temperature and Humidity

A tropical plant from Peru, it loves to bask in warm temperatures and plenty of humidity.

Keep the temperature between 60-80F (16-26 C) and high humidity by regularly misting the plant leaves.

It may tolerate 60F and as high as 80F, but prolonged exposure to cold and hot temperatures may damage the foliage.

When the temperature drops, move them indoors and use room humidifiers to maintain adequate humidity levels

Pro Tip: Add other houseplants in the room to naturally increase the humidity level.

4. Fertilizer Requirement

Feed your plant with balanced liquid fertilizer once a month during the growing season to boost foliage growth.

They enjoy balanced plant food with NPK 5-5-5 ratio diluted to half strength but limit fertilization to the growing season.

Too much fertilizing may leave the soil drained in Nitrogen and salt that may invite many root-related problems.

5. Regular Pruning

Keep pruning to the growing season when the plant starts producing leggy stems and flowers.

These plants increase in the right conditions, but they are likely to get new blossoms and leggy stems that bring the weight of the plant down.

Pruning leggy stems, old and dead leaves, and new flower buds will help retain their shape and energy.

Pruning plant leaves
Pruning plant leaves (Source: Unsplash.com)

Cut back on pruning during winter seasons when the plant goes into the state of dormancy.

6. Control Pests and Disease

Fittonia is not particularly prone to any pests and diseases commonly found in houseplants.

However, you should watch common pests like spider mites, aphids, soil gnats, and fungus that may spread from other plants.

Therefore, keeping Fittonia separate from other plants in an isolated place should prevent the problems.

Young Fittonia Plant
Young Fittonia Plant Leaves (source: Pexels.com)

Conclusion

Fittonia is easy to propagate and care for than you can imagine. Take the cuttings and reproduce them in water or soil for quick rooting.

However, ensure optimum indirect lighting, high humidity, and high humidity to improve the propagation success rate.

Fittonia is a slow-growing houseplant, so do not panic when the newly propagated plant takes longer to get thicker foliage.

If you are worried about slowed foliage growth, ensure to feed it with balanced plant food once a month.

Related Article: What is the Best Way to Propagate Snake Plant in Water?

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