Everything You Need to Know About the Lifespan of Nerve Plants
Nerve plants make a wonderful addition to any houseplant collection. These compact tropical houseplants work really well as terrarium plants and provide a host of uses and benefits. This guide will take you through how long nerve plants typically live for and what you can do to ensure their longevity through optimal plant care.
- How Long Do Nerve Plants Live For? – The Essentials
- About Nerve Plants
- What is the Natural Life Cycle of a Nerve Plant in the Wild?
- How Long Can Nerve Plants Live For Indoors?
- Key Factors That Contribute to the Longevity of Nerve Plants
- Nerve Plant Longevity FAQs
- Wrapping Up
How Long Do Nerve Plants Live For? – The Essentials
Nerve plants typically live between 3 and 5 years when grown indoors or outside. These plants stay compact even when mature and rarely exceed 6 inches high. Nerve plants can spread for up to 18 inches at their maximum size. Proper care in line with their inherent needs helps nerve plants live as long as possible.
About Nerve Plants
Nerve plants belong to the Fittonia genus within the acanthus family (Acanthaceae). These evergreen perennials are indigenous to the tropical rainforests of Peru and other parts of South America. The genus is named after 19th Century Irish botanists Elizabeth and Sarah Fitton.
Nerve plants are sometimes called mosaic plants due to the beautiful veins on their green oval-shaped leaves. These colorful veins are usually pink, red, or white. Nerve plants also have fine hairs on their stems.
Nerve plants can provide several impressive uses and benefits and are particularly well suited to growing in terrariums. If you position nerve plants in specific areas, you can even use them to improve the feng shui within your home.
What is the Natural Life Cycle of a Nerve Plant in the Wild?
Nerve plants are native to the rainforests of Peru and other regions of South America. These plants grow on the forest floor and spread out as ground cover plants. They gradually spread by sending out young roots to form new plants. In the wild, individual nerve plants rarely live for more than a couple of years.
How Long Can Nerve Plants Live For Indoors?
Nerve plants can live for approximately 3 to 5 years when grown indoors. Nerve plants stay compact throughout their lives and rarely grow higher than 6 inches tall. However, they can spread up to 18 inches wide by trailing their stems over the lip of their pot.
Nerve plants won’t live long if they receive improper care, especially regarding temperature and humidity. Nerve plants can also be severely damaged by pests and diseases. Severe infestations may force you to discard the plant.
Key Factors That Contribute to the Longevity of Nerve Plants
Nerve plants require bright, indirect or filtered sunlight to thrive. Partial shade also works well, especially if you’re growing them outside. East-facing windows provide the ideal amount of sunlight. Keep nerve plants at least 3 feet away from the window to give them indirect light.
Temperature and Humidity
Like many tropical houseplants, nerve plants need warm, humid conditions. Nerve plants need temperatures ranging from 60 to 80ºF (15.5 to 26.5ºC) and humidity levels between 60 and 90%. They can also be grown outside in USDA Zones 11 and 12 in humid, tropical areas.
Indoors, provide humidity using humidifiers, pebble trays, or by regularly misting the plant. Keep these plants away from cold or dry drafts that could lower the temperature or humidity. Drafts usually come from air vents, open windows, and radiators.
Nerve plants prefer moist soil, so water them whenever the top inch of the soil feels dry. In the spring and summer, that means watering roughly every 3 to 4 days. Use lukewarm or room-temperature distilled or filtered water. These plants tend to droop when they need a drink but will perk up after receiving some water.
Nerve plants need well-draining soils that can still hold some moisture. They also need slightly acidic soils with pH levels between 6.5 and 7.0. A 1:1:1 mix of peat-free houseplant compost, orchid bark, and perlite provides the right balance of nutrition and drainage.
Nerve plants are slow-growing plants that need feeding every 2 to 4 weeks during the spring and summer. Use a balanced liquid fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 5-5-5 to provide plenty of nutrients. Always dilute the fertilizer to a half-strength dose according to the packet instructions.
Because nerve plants grow pretty slowly, you should only need to repot them every 2 or 3 years. Repot these plants in the spring as the growing season gets underway. Only increase the pot size by an inch at a time, as nerve plants will struggle in big pots.
Pests and Diseases
Nerve plants can suffer from pests such as aphids, fungus gnats, and mealybugs. These plants can also be vulnerable to diseases such as root rot or mosaic virus. Use insecticidal soap, horticultural oils, and fungicides to treat these problems.
Nerve Plant Longevity FAQs:
Do Nerve Plants Outgrow Their Pots?
Nerve plants are slow-growing houseplants and only outgrow their pots every 2 or 3 years.
How Often Do Nerve Plants Grow New Leaves?
After being planted or repotted, a nerve plant should produce new leaves within a few weeks.
How Big Will a Nerve Plant Get?
Nerve plants are compact houseplants that only grow to approximately 6 inches high. Nerve plants can also spread up to 18 inches wide.
Will Nerve Plants Live Longer When Grown Outdoors?
Nerve plants will not necessarily live longer when grown outdoors. Nerve plants can only be grown outside in Zones 11 and 12. It’s much easier to control their environment and provide the proper care indoors.
Nerve plants are brilliantly compact houseplants that can live for approximately 2 to 5 years. The right growing conditions are crucial if you want your nerve plant to grow for several years. Nerve plants need bright, indirect light and warm, humid conditions to thrive. Water nerve plants every 3 to 4 days during the growing season and repot them every 2 or 3 years.
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.