Nerve plants (Fittonia spp.) are compact, colorful houseplants with vibrant red, pink, or white veins on their leaves. These small tropical plants are ideal for terrariums and even have some surprising benefits. But even these slow-growing plants need to be repotted every now and then. In this article, we’ll explain when and how to repot nerve plants.
- When and How to Repot Nerve Plants – The Essentials
- Why Repotting Your Nerve Plant Might Be Necessary
- How Often Do Nerve Plants Need Repotting?
- Best Times of Year to Repot a Nerve Plant
- The Best Soil Mix to Use When Repotting Nerve Plants
- What Tools Will I Need When Repotting a Nerve Plant?
- Size & Types of Potting Vessel Considerations
- How to Repot Your Nerve Plant
- Post-Repotting Care
- Repotting Nerve Plants FAQs
- Wrapping Up
When and How to Repot Nerve Plants – The Essentials
Nerve plants need repotting every 2 or 3 years to accommodate new growth and replenish the soil base. Repot your nerve plant in the spring, which is the start of the active growing season. Provide some fresh well-draining soil, and use a pot about an inch bigger than the previous container.
Why Repotting Your Nerve Plant Might Be Necessary
Although nerve plants are slow-growing houseplants, they may need repotting for various reasons. As a nerve plant grows, it will naturally require a slightly bigger container every 2 or 3 years. Repotting the plant in a larger pot with fresh soil helps it continue to grow.
Nerve plants rarely grow taller than 6 inches but can spread up to 18 inches wide. Nerve plants prefer not to become root-bound whenever possible, so repotting is vital to keep the plant happy. If roots start protruding from the drainage holes of the nursery pot, you need to repot the nerve plant.
If your nerve plant is suffering from overwatering or waterlogged soil, repotting the plant is the easiest solution. Nerve plants require well-draining soil to prevent problems like root rot. If the soil is waterlogged, you’ll need to repot the plant in fresh soil with added drainage. Always remove any brown, mushy, or smelly roots before placing the nerve plant in fresh soil.
Repotting is also helpful if a nerve plant is suffering from underwatering, especially if it’s root-bound. Some soils can drain too quickly, even for nerve plants, which means the plant needs watering more frequently. Repotting the nerve plant into new soil that retains more moisture can solve the problem.
A lack of nutrients is another common reason for repotting a nerve plant. Over time, nerve plants will absorb the nutrients within the surrounding soil. Although regular fertilizing temporarily tops up these nutrients, repotting the plant into fresh soil is more of a long-term solution.
If your nerve plant is suffering from diseases or pests, repotting the plant into fresh soil may solve the problem. Diseases such as root rot and pests like fungus gnats can infest the soil around your nerve plant. Getting rid of the affected soil by repotting the plant may help your nerve plant recover from diseases and pests.
How Often Do Nerve Plants Need Repotting?
Nerve plants are relatively slow-growing houseplants and won’t need repotting too regularly. In most cases, nerve plants should be repotted every 2 or 3 years. Repotting nerve plants too often can actually cause their growth rate to slow down even more than usual.
Best Times of Year to Repot a Nerve Plant
If you need to repot your nerve plant, it’s always best to do so during the spring. This is when the nerve plant comes out of its winter dormancy and begins to grow again. Repotting the plant at this time takes advantage of this natural rhythm of growth.
If you need to repot your nerve plant due to waterlogged soil, diseases, or pests, it’s best to repot as soon as you can. However, try and avoid repotting nerve plants during the winter wherever possible. If a nerve plant is repotted in winter, it will struggle to grow properly as it’s supposed to be dormant.
The Best Soil Mix to Use When Repotting Nerve Plants
When it’s time to repot a nerve plant, it’s essential to provide the right kind of soil. By providing a suitable soil base, your nerve plant will grow healthily and happily until it naturally needs to be repotted again.
Nerve plants require a well-draining soil mix that still retains some moisture. This helps protect your nerve plant against both overwatering and underwatering. Nerve plants also require slightly acidic soils with a pH range between 6.5 and 7.0.
The ideal nerve plant soil mix is a 1:1:1 mix of houseplant compost, peat or peat moss, and horticultural sand. For a peat-free mix, use a 1:1:1 blend of peat-free houseplant compost or coco coir, orchid bark, and perlite. You can also add some sphagnum moss if the soil mix doesn’t retain enough moisture.
What Tools Will I Need When Repotting a Nerve Plant?
Repotting a nerve plant is fairly straightforward, but there are a few tools that can make it even easier:
- Newspaper to cover the work surface
- Small trowel to help remove the plant
- Clean secateurs or scissors to trim tangled or rotted roots
- Container of fresh potting mix
- Watering can filled with lukewarm distilled or filtered water
Size & Types of Potting Vessel Considerations
Nerve plants have relatively shallow roots, meaning they don’t need deep pots. Choose a new pot no more than an inch bigger than the previous container. Always place your nerve plant in a clean nursery pot with drainage holes.
If you want to use a decorative pot, be aware that terracotta pots are porous and may dry out your nerve plant too quickly. Ceramic or plastic decorative pots are ideal for nerve plants.
How to Repot Your Nerve Plant
Here’s a step-by-step guide explaining how to repot your nerve plant:
- Check that the nerve plant needs repotting by looking for roots protruding from the drainage holes. Drooping leaves or increased water requirements may indicate that the plant needs repotting.
- Water your nerve plant 2 or 3 days before you intend to repot it.
- When it’s time to repot the plant, give it another light watering to make the soil easier to handle.
- Add a layer of fresh soil to the new nursery pot until it’s about half full.
- Gently ease the nerve plant out of its old pot and shake off most of the old soil. Trim off any straggly or rotting roots.
- Place the nerve plant into its new pot, fill it with fresh soil, and gently firm it down.
- Lightly water your nerve plant to help it adjust to its new pot.
Whilst nerve plants aren’t considered toxic to humans and pets, they do have tiny hairs on their stems that may cause mild irritation, so it’s prudent to wear protective gloves throughout the repotting process.
Even if you repot your nerve plant carefully and correctly, it’ll still take a little time for it to recover. The plant may appear slightly droopy or limp for a little while after repotting. You can speed up recovery by placing your nerve plant in an ideal spot.
Place your nerve plant somewhere with bright, indirect, or filtered light. Provide warm, humid conditions with temperatures between 60 and 80ºF and humidity levels between 60 and 90%. Use humidifiers or pebble trays to achieve this.
As the fresh soil contains nutrients, you won’t need to fertilize your nerve plant immediately after repotting. Wait for approximately a month or two before you start fertilizing again.
With due care, your nerve plants should thrive for years to come.
Repotting Nerve Plants FAQs
Water your nerve plant three days before you plan to repot, then perform another light watering just before repotting. This helps make the soil easier to work.
Should you water a Nerve plant immediately after repotting?
Give your nerve plant a light watering immediately after repotting to help the plant recover. Then water as normal.
Do Nerve plants like big pots?
Nerve plants don’t like big pots, so only increase the pot size by an inch at most whenever you repot.
Why is my Nerve plant limp after repotting?
Nerve plants may be limp or droopy while they recover from being moved to a new pot.
Should I mist my Nerve plant after repotting?
Lightly mist your nerve plant after repotting to maintain high humidity. This helps your nerve plant to recover.
Should I fertilize my Nerve plant after repotting?
Avoid fertilizing your nerve plant for at least a month after repotting.
Repotting Nerve Plants – Wrapping Up
Due to their slow growth rate, nerve plants normally need repotting every 2 or 3 years. Repot during the spring whenever possible, as this is the natural start of the active growing season. Try to avoid repotting nerve plants during winter. Whenever you repot a nerve plant, only increase the pot size by an inch at a time.
For more, see our in-depth guide on where to position nerve plants for optimal care and feng shui benefits in the home.
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.
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