Some houseplants are grown for their blooms, some for their foliage. Fittonias (fit-TOH-neeuh), AKA nerve plant or mosaic plant, are certainly one of the most striking examples of the latter.
A member of the Acanthaceae family, who hails mainly from Peru, includes two accepted species (Fittonia albivenis and Fittonia gigantea), with three other possible species currently being debated and dozens of Fittonia varieties.
Both species sport green leaves with colorful pink, red, yellow, or white veins and bear small white flowers.
These plants are moisture-lovers and pretty easy to care for, making it even more wonderful to think of owning more.
The good news is that propagating Fittonias is quite easy once you know the steps.
Learn More on Caring for Fittonia Plants
How To Propagate Fittonia Nerve Plants
As mentioned, it’s easy to propagate a fittonia, usually from stem cuttings.
Other methods do exist but are generally not viable in a home setting.
Why Propagating From Seeds Is Not Recommended
Seed propagation can be a little dodgy if you don’t know whether your fittonia is a species, variety (natural hybrid or variation), or a cultivar (literally a human cultivated variety).
Since many varieties and cultivars are newer, they may not bloom or produce seeds for one of the parent plants.
It is also infrequent for indoor Fittonias to produce viable seeds.
Thus, while this is an acceptable propagation method, it’s challenging to find any reliable information on which Fittonias have viable seeds and how to harvest and germinate them.
By far the easiest method, soil propagation of your stem cuttings requires a little patience and some homemade climate control but is very easy to do.
There’s a good chance you already have some viable cuttings if you’ve just pruned your plant.
The best time, of course, is in spring, and you will need to select healthy cuttings that have 2 to 3 layers of leaves.
Trim off all but the top layer of leaves on your cutting, dipping the bottom inch or so in rooting hormone
The Soil Method
You will want a small container with a loose, well-draining potting mix (a standard tropical houseplant mix will work) and a clear plastic bag (sandwich bags work great).
Dampen the soil before planting, then poke a tiny hole in the potting mix with your finger about 1″ inch deep and stick the cutting in, carefully tamping the soil around it to keep it upright.
Give the soil another light watering and cover the plant and container with your plastic bag to increase the humidity levels.
This will serve as a humidity dome or tent.
Place your plantlet in a spot with bright, indirect light that’s free of drafts.
Test the soil with your finger every few days and add a little more water when it’s dry 1″ inch down.
The plantlet will begin to grow new roots in around 2 weeks but will not be ready to transplant to a more permanent home for 4 to 6 weeks.
The Water Method
Many growers find this method to be easier and more fun than the soil method.
You will need a transparent glass container, such as a mason jar or small drinking glass, along with your cuttings.
Fill this with room temperature distilled water or natural rainwater so that the bottom inch of the stem will be submerged and insert the cutting.
There are several ways to prop up the cutting:
- Let the leaves rest on the container’s rim
- Make a frame or mesh to support your plant
- Place plastic wrap over the opening and poke a hole in the middle to insert the stem through
Be warned, any supports you use will have to be removed without pulling the plant through, so use something you can cut or rip.
Stick your container in a spot with bright, indirect sunlight and change the water when it becomes cloudy, adding more water if the level drops.
You should begin to see new roots forming in about 2 weeks.
The fittonia will be ready to transplant into the soil when the roots are about 1″ inch long (usually in 4 to 6 weeks).
A Final Note of Fittonia Nerve Plant Leaf Cuttings
While it’s possible to propagate using leaf cuttings, the success rate is relatively low.
A leaf cut where the petiole meets the stem can be planted directly in soil with some rooting hormone or hung on the rim of a glass with the tip of the petiole submerged.
In both cases, the cutting may or may not take, and success is entirely the luck of the draw, so this is not a recommended method unless the parent plant is too ill to harvest stem cuttings and you’re willing to take a chance.