Fittonia, otherwise commonly known as a Nerve plant, is a charming but finicky plant known for its droopy/fainting nature. The good news is it’s not dying. But it is signaling to you that something is wrong with it. Luckily for you, it’s not that difficult to solve.
Below, I’ve listed down steps to investigate and solve the likely causes of your drooping Fittonia:
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1. Water the Fittonia Thoroughly if the Soil is Dried Out
The most common culprit for Nerve plant drooping or “fainting” is underwatering. Just like when you’re dehydrated, the Nerve plant will slouch and appear tired when running low on water. If it’s your first time taking care of one, you’ll be surprised at how quickly this plant will sulk at you for not giving it enough water.
A typical watering schedule for Fittonia is about twice a week. But this can vary depending on your soil type, local climate, current season, and other factors. It may feel overkill, but it’s a reasonable estimate. Nerve plants have shallow roots, which means that the plant readily takes up water at the soil’s topmost surface. And considering that area tends to dry up more quickly, it makes sense to water the plant more often to keep it well-hydrated.
However, in the winter, you’ll have to reduce the watering down to once or twice every 3-4 weeks. When in doubt, use the knuckle test or have a go at using this trusty moisture meter from Amazon that I absolutely cannot recommend enough. It’s standing strong at 4.4 stars with a whopping 27,465 ratings. Buy it and say goodbye to overwatering completely!
Also, use room temperature water to soak the potting mix of your Fittonia well. Using cold water will shock the plant and likely cause it to droop too. Be nice to your Nerve plant – it’s really trying its best. You don’t get that many plants as vocal as this one about its needs.
It’s also worth noting that Fittonias usually bounce right back after watering. But don’t make a habit of underwatering it. Eventually, it’ll take its toll on the plant, and you may lose it indefinitely.
When do Nerve plants perk up after watering?
Nerve plants often take 30 minutes to several hours to recover from their droopiness after a good watering. But if your plant is still drooping in 2 days, it may be suffering from a different condition altogether.
Should I water a Fittonia everyday?
As a general rule, Fittonias require watering only twice a week. Daily watering may only cause overwatering, which will waterlog the soil and suffocate the roots. At the very least, allow the top 1-2 inches of potting mix to dry out before watering again.
Should I bottom-water my Nerve plant?
Nerve plants may benefit from top watering more than bottom watering but using either method is alright. However, due to the plant’s shallow roots, keeping the soil’s surface constantly moist is more helpful than soaking the lower portion.
2. Place a Humidifier Near the Fittonia to Increase its Surrounding Humidity
If underwatering isn’t the issue, then low humidity may just be the culprit in this drooping Fittonia case. It may also come with shriveled-up leaves due to how dry the air is. This plant thrives best in high humidity, which is why it’s often used in terrariums, it’s one of the easiest ways to keep it happy and moist. This can be a bit of a challenge if you live somewhere quite dry, especially when you have the indoor heater on during winter.
In this case, your best ally is a humidifier. The blast of constant mist from this nifty tool will ensure your Fittonia’s leaves are perky. Place the plant right next to this equipment and watch it come back to life within the hour. It’s no rainforest, but it does the trick! I’d highly suggest you get this particular one from Amazon – I have the same one, and it has been keeping my tropical plants pretty satisfied. It’s got a pretty great 4.4 stars with a solid 66,744 ratings!
If you don’t have a humidifier, you can create a makeshift one by setting the plant’s pot on top of a tray filled with pebbles and water. As the water evaporates, it will increase the humidity around the plant.
You can also try moving the plant to another location in your home with more humidity—a bathroom or kitchen, for example. Any room that uses a lot of water has more than average humidity and keep in mind it needs light too!
Or better yet, in less humid rooms you can group it with other plants so they’ll create a microclimate together via transpiration. Just be sure that none of the plants have pests on them otherwise you may spread mealybugs or aphids and the like.
Can I mist my Fittonia?
As a whole, it’s unnecessary to mist Fittonia. It does nothing to improve the surrounding humidity levels. But it can be helpful to wipe dust and debris off the plant’s leaves, provided it is wiped down with a cloth after misting.
If you’d like to know more about why misting is generally bad, read this related article here:
3. Provide Plenty of Indirect Sunlight to the Fittonia Plant
Now, we’re getting into the more nuanced problems of your drooping Fittonia. Lack of sunlight or low light levels is not a typical reason for the plant’s wilting moments, but it is entirely possible. After all, they still need sufficient light to develop well.
Fittonias prefer bright, indirect light through a curtained window. You should also avoid placing the plant in direct exposure to sunlight. Otherwise, you may end up causing leaf burn.
But if you live in an apartment lacking natural light, you can easily accommodate the plant with LED grow lights. The great thing about this is you can run it 12-14 hours a day full blast on the plant without burning the leaves from overexposure. This particular one from Amazon does the job well for my plants and seedlings, with 4.5 stars and 3,534 ratings. So I hope it’ll fit your Fittonia’s needs just as well!
Where is the best place to put my Fittonia?
As a whole, Fittonias are best placed in a bright area with indirect sunlight, away from direct sun exposure. If this is not feasible in your home or apartment, using grow lights will more than suffice the plant’s light needs.
4. Place Fittonia in a Warm Room with Temperatures of 70 – 80°F
Fittonias are tropical plants, so they prefer warm temperatures. If your plant is drooping, it may be because the room it’s in is too cool. It’ll usually tolerate 60°F but you’d be pushing it. Were it to get just a bit colder or if the plant is exposed to a few cold drafts, the leaves will most likely start to droop.
You can monitor the surrounding temperature of your plant with a digital hygrometer. I use one to keep track of mine alongside the humidity. This way, if any of my plants act up, but the rest of their basic care needs are accounted for, it’s probably due to the temperature. I highly recommend getting this same tool I used from Amazon to help you and your Fittonia out! It’s got a solid 4.6 stars and 21, 143 ratings 😀 If you’d like to know more about meeting any plant’s basic care needs, you can read all about it in this article here.
5. Repot the Fittonia if the Soil is Too Wet from Being Overwatered
Overwatering is the most common mistake of new plant owners, especially with a Fittonia, overwatering becomes a problem a lot faster with this plant because you need to water it twice a week. Drooping is just one of the many side effects of overwatering, along with very yellow leaves and some probable dead roots.
The first step is to check the potting mix. If it feels soggy or looks waterlogged, the plant is probably overwatered. In this case, you’ll need to repot your plant in a fresh, dry potting mix. Leaving the soil to dry out may be risky because the damage may already be extensive at that point. Be sure to use well-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes to help prevent overwatering in the future. If you suspect your plant may have root rot, you can easily fix it following the instructions in this article here.
How to tell if my Fittonia is overwatered?
An overwatered Fittonia will have wilting, yellow, or brown leaves with mushy stems. In worse-case scenarios, a foul smell will come from the soil. This is called root rot, if the plant soil smells, act quickly and repot the plant. Otherwise, you may only be able to propagate small parts of the plant and you’ll have to discard the rest.
6. Move Fittonia to a Shaded Area Away from Direct Sunlight
This is unlikely to cause your plant to droop. But if you see that the leaves are crisped up and wilting, then too much sunlight just may be the issue here. You may not be able to save the dried-up leaves, but you can still save the rest of the plant by moving it away from the light and into a more shaded area to recover. Apart from that, there’s nothing much you can do but let it recuperate for the time being. It may be advisable to water the plant a bit more during this time to keep it well-hydrated after being accidentally baked under the sun.
7. Fertilize Fittonia Sparingly Once a Month
Fittonias are light feeders, so they don’t need a lot of fertilizer. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a pick-me-up once in a while to keep them growing. When the soil runs out of nutrients, we must top it off to keep the plant nourished. But it also means doing it in moderation because too much fertilizer can cause the leaves to droop.
If you think your plant needs a little boost, fertilize it once a month using an all-purpose liquid fertilizer diluted to about a half. in spring and summer only. But stop fertilizing when the plant is dormant in the fall and winter.
8. Check Fittonia’s Leaves and Stem for Lurking Pests
Now, if it isn’t any of the above or if you see bugs or white fuzzy spots in plant crevices, it’s possible that pests maybe terrorizing your Fittonia. The only way to check is to observe whether anything lurks on or beneath the leaves and stems. When aphids, mealybugs, or scales latch onto a plant, it’ll suck the sap juice out and may cause limp stems and discolored spots on the foliage. If this is the case, you can quickly deal with this problem by following the complete instructions I’ve written in this article – it’s a complete guide for plant pests.
9. Note Strange Spots or Discoloration on Fittonia for Disease Symptoms
Lastly, diseases may also cause certain droopiness in Fittonias but usually come with other symptoms. This may be a bit hard to pinpoint but never overlook this possibility if you’ve gone through everything else in this list and nothing else checks out.
One of the biggest ones could be root rot which you can fix in no time with the instructions I laid out in this other article. But suppose it’s a particular disease you’re unsure of. In that case, you can check this houseplant diseases article I wrote to see if your Fittonia is suffering from any of it, along with the solutions to help it recover.
Before I finish off, here are a few FAQs on the plant that you may find helpful in general:
How often do I need to repot my Fittonia?
It’s best to repot Fittonias once a year during spring or summer. It can grow moderately fast when well-cared for, but be sure not to use too big of a pot to prevent overwatering.
Is it hard to care for a Fittonia?
Fittonias are relatively easy to care for. Although it’s known for its droopy nature, that’s just a visual way for the plant to ask for help when something is wrong. As long as you address its water and high humidity needs well, everything else comes easy. But other than that, it is a delightful little houseplant.
Is Fittonia considered a hanging plant?
Fittonias are not necessarily hanging plants but can be once the foliage has grown more plentiful. But when it’s starting, it’s best kept in a small pot and left to develop. Once it starts sprouting out more growth, it’ll look better in a hanging basket.
Hopefully, this helps you find what’s wrong with your drooping Fittonia. You’re unlikely to have to go through the entire list before fixing the plant’s issue. But I wanted to cover all aspects to give you a better chance at saving your plant if the answer isn’t just a simple underwatering issue. I hope you and your Fittonia have a wonderful day. Happy planting!