Although fittonias are only small and low-growing they certainly stand out in a crowd with their coloured, boldly-veined leaves. This factor has earned them the common name of “snakeskin plant”. Leaf colour varies from red, through pink shades to white and you can choose between large or small leaves. Leaf size is actually an important factor when it comes to choice as, the larger the foliage, the more demanding the plant will be in its cultural requirements.
Let us look at the varieties with large leaves first. These require a very warm and humid atmosphere so mist-spraying the foliage regularly is an absolute must. Alternatively, grow in a bottle garden where high humidity will be more constant. Also never place a fittonia in direct sunlight as it will soon shrivel up.
At the other end of the scale are the fittonias with small leaves. These are much easier to care for and will be quite happy in a warm room which has drier air although an occasional misting will be beneficial.
Give enough water to prevent the compost from drying out completely but make sure the pot is well drained and never becomes saturated.
Because fittonias are natural creepers they will produce roots along their stems which will anchor themselves into the surrounding compost. It is a simple job to remove some of these stems with root and pot them up seperately, thus increasing your stock. It is also a good way of replacing older straggly plants. In any case trimming the growths back periodically will help to keep the plant in shape.
Fittonias produce small flowers but these are quite insignificant and are best pinched out so that all the energy goes into producing good strong foliage.
Pests aren’t generally a problem although aphid may occasionally attack soft young growths.