Nerve plants can help bring relaxing tropical jungle vibes to your home. These colorfully-veined plants come from the rainforests of Peru and other parts of South America. However, nerve plants aren’t just stunning ornamentals; they also offer an array of uses and benefits.
- About Nerve Plants
- 12 Uses and Benefits of Nerve Plants
- 1. Nerve Plants Are Perfect For Terrariums
- 2. Nerve Plants Can Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety
- 3. Nerve Plants May Help Purify the Air In Your Home
- 4. Nerve Plants Might Help You Increase Your Productivity
- 5. Nerve Plants May Improve the Quality of Your Sleep
- 6. Nerve Plants Come In a Range of Gorgeous Colors
- 7. Nerve Plants Are Compact Houseplants
- 8. Nerve Plants Can Be Used As Outdoor Ground Cover
- 9. Nerve Plants Can Tolerate Different Types of Light Exposure
- 10. Nerve Plants Are Not Toxic to People or Pets
- 11. Nerve Plants Could Help Alleviate Allergies
- 12. Nerve Plants Can Help Increase Humidity In Your Home
- Wrapping Up
About Nerve Plants
Nerve plants belong to the Fittonia genus within the acanthus family (Acanthaceae). They’re also known as mosaic plants due to the vibrant pink, red, or white veins covering their leaves. Nerve plants are perennial evergreen tropical plants that work well as houseplants.
Nerve plants are indigenous to Peru and other parts of South America. They grow as ground cover on the forest floor and have a spreading habit. Nerve plants can spread for 12 to 18 inches and grow up to 6 inches tall, and can live for years with proper care.
The Fittonia genus is named after Elizabeth and Sarah Fitton, who were leading botanical writers during the 19th Century. Nerve plants are usually split into two groups; pink or red-veined nerve plants (Verschaffeltii Group) and white-veined nerve plants (Argyroneura Group).
12 Uses and Benefits of Nerve Plants:
1. Nerve Plants Are Perfect For Terrariums
Due to their compact size and preference for warm, humid conditions, nerve plants are ideal for terrariums. Glass terrariums are a great way to nurture and display tropical plants that need more humidity than our homes can usually provide.
Nerve plants rarely exceed 6 inches tall, making them suitable for a wide range of terrarium sizes. Growing nerve plants in a closed terrarium creates a microclimate that replicates the conditions of the tropical rainforest. Just remember to keep the terrarium out of bright, direct sunlight; otherwise, your nerve plant may get scorched.
2. Nerve Plants Can Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Nerve plants may also help reduce stress and anxiety in our busy lives. Numerous studies have explored the calming effects of plants, including a 2015 study conducted by Korean and Japanese scientists.
Two groups of 12 young men had their stress levels monitored while performing two different tasks. One task involved doing some work on a computer, while the other had the participants repotting a houseplant. The data showed that the participants experienced lower stress levels when repotting the plant.
Other studies have found that we can lower stress levels by looking at plants and natural areas. Some experts have also found that being in the presence of plants can improve heart health and reduce muscle tension.
3. Nerve Plants May Help Purify the Air In Your Home
One of the most widely-known benefits of houseplants is that they can improve air quality in our homes. In 1989, NASA conducted its landmark Clean Air Study to evaluate this effect. This goes beyond simply absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
NASA’s research found that several houseplants were adept at removing harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air. Materials such as carpets, paint, and other chemical-based products can emit VOCs in our homes. VOCs are believed to pose numerous health risks, including exacerbating allergies like asthma and increasing the risk of cancer.
Nerve plants are good at removing three VOCs in particular; benzene, toluene, and trichloroethylene.
4. Nerve Plants Might Help You Increase Your Productivity
The presence of houseplants, such as nerve plants, may also help boost productivity. And thanks to their compact size, nerve plants are ideal houseplants to add to almost any home office.
A 2014 study examined changes in productivity when indoor plants were added to offices in the Netherlands and the UK. The results showed that participants felt less stressed and happier in their offices when plants were present. The study also found that there was a 15% increase in productivity.
5. Nerve Plants May Improve the Quality of Your Sleep
Because plants can reduce stress and anxiety levels, nerve plants may help you get a better night’s sleep. Adding nerve plants to your bedroom may also improve air quality, helping to make you even more relaxed.
In 2019, Chinese scientists tested the impact of plants on the sleeping patterns of a group of astronauts. The scientists discovered that the astronauts felt less stressed when they saw or smelled the plants. This calming effect also helped regulate their central nervous systems and increased the quality of their sleep.
6. Nerve Plants Come In a Range of Gorgeous Colors
Also known as mosaic plants, nerve plants are famous for the vibrant, colorful veins on their leaves. These veins are usually pink, red, or white, depending on the species or cultivar. And thanks to their compact size, you can use nerve plants to add color to almost any space.
Nerve plants also come in various shades, so plenty of choices are available. For example, Fittonia albivenis ‘Black Star’ has dark green leaves with dark red veins. Fittonia verschaffeltii ‘Pink Angel’ has dark green foliage with light pink veins.
7. Nerve Plants Are Compact Houseplants
Part of the charm of nerve plants is their compact size. Although nerve plants can spread up to 18 inches wide, you can control their spread by keeping them in a pot. Nerve plants only grow up to about 6 inches high, so they don’t take up much space and are perfect plants for small apartments. This means that nerve plants can be placed almost anywhere in your home without becoming a nuisance. They’ll benefit from regular fertilizing in the spring and summer months and keep an eye out for common pests and diseases.
8. Nerve Plants Can Be Used As Outdoor Ground Cover
Nerve plants need warm, humid conditions similar to their indigenous tropical rainforest habitat. While this means they can’t be grown outside in most areas of the United States, there are exceptions. Nerve plants can be grown outdoors in USDA Zones 11 and 12.
Nerve plants have a spreading habit and thrive on the rainforest floor, making them good ground cover plants. You can grow them in shady spots underneath larger plants to add more of a jungle look to your backyard.
9. Nerve Plants Can Tolerate Different Types of Light Exposure
Nerve plants can thrive in most light conditions indoors, including bright, indirect light, filtered light, or partial shade. East or north-facing rooms provide the ideal light conditions for nerve plants, but they can also grow happily in other areas.
However, nerve plants cannot tolerate bright, direct sunlight or full shade for long. Too much direct sunlight can burn their delicate leaves, while too much shade can cause growth problems.
10. Nerve Plants Are Not Toxic to People or Pets
Some houseplants can be toxic to pets and humans, making them unsuitable for some homes. Thankfully, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) categorizes nerve plants as non-toxic. This means nerve plants are safe for cats, dogs, and other pets.
If your pet accidentally eats a few Fittonia leaves, it shouldn’t suffer any health problems. However, avoid letting this become a habit, as excessive consumption may lead to issues.
11. Nerve Plants Could Help Alleviate Allergies
Nerve plants can help purify the air within our homes by absorbing harmful VOCs such as benzene and toluene. This may provide extra benefits to people who suffer from respiratory allergies such as asthma. The presence of VOCs can exacerbate these conditions. Because nerve plants can absorb these compounds, they may also help to reduce unpleasant chemical odors.
12. Nerve Plants Can Help Increase Humidity In Your Home
Nerve plants need high humidity levels ranging from 60 to 90%. By using humidifiers or pebble trays to achieve this, you could be improving your own health. Our bodies need a certain amount of humidity, with the recommended humidity levels for our homes ranging from 30 to 50%.
Nerve plants get rid of excess water through evaporation, which slightly increases the humidity levels in your home. This can help counter problems such as asthma, dry skin, and eczema. Ensure you’re using a well-draining soil mix for nerve plants to thrive.
The Uses and Benefits of Nerve Plants – Wrapping Up
Nerve plants can bring welcome splashes of color to our homes. However, nerve plants also have a range of surprising benefits. Nerve plants may help to reduce stress, improve air quality, boost productivity, and remove harmful chemicals from the air. Nerve plants are also compact, making adding them to your home easy.
Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.
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