The nerve plant (Fittonia verchaffeltii), also known as the mosaic plant, for the unique veined appearance of its leaves, is a tropical evergreen plant native to tropical rainforests located throughout Central and South America. In the rest of the world nerve plants are commonly found in many plant arrangements, Nerve plants are used in many different types of arrangements for the beauty of their two inch long olive green leaves that are veined with red, white or silver. Nerve plants also make attractive houseplants if they are cared for properly.
Although nerve plants require more attention than other plants caring for a nerve plant is easy if you remember that it is indigenous to a tropical location. Rainforests are very humid and nerve plants grow best in high humidity in temperatures above 70 degrees. For this reason some people choose to grow nerve plants in terrariums. A terrarium that is misted regularly is the superb growing environment for the nerve plant. In its native environment the nerve plant is a ground hugging plant that grows in the rich soil of the rainforest, spreading rapidly to cover the rainforest floor. If the nerve plant is to be grown successfully as a houseplant it needs to be planted in rich soil with a 10-10-10 fertilizer applied monthly. The soil needs to be kept evenly moist but not soaked. If nerve plants receive too much water their leaves will start to yellow and eventually they will drop off. Most tropical houseplants will yellow if they are overwatered. The nerve plant prefers medium or filtered light. Direct sunlight will burn the leaves of the plant and dry out its soil.
Nerve plants that are properly cared for are rapid growers and will occasionally produce white or red insignificant flowers. Some gardeners will pinch off these flowers and prune the leaves of the nerve plant to keep the plant bushy and thriving. Although heavy pruning isn't necessary, light pruning is good for the nerve plant.
Pest aren't normally a problem for the nerve plant although ill cared for plants will sometimes become hosts for mealy bugs or spider mites. These insect pests can kill houseplants if they aren't exterminated. To exterminate both mealy bugs and spider mites spray the tops and undersides of leaves with insecticidal soap. If mealy bugs and spiders mites are left untreated they will not only be detrimental to the nerve plant but they will travel to other houseplants.
Nerve plants can be propagated by cutting, much like other tropical plants. Nerve plants can also be propagated by division through the hands of an experienced gardener.