Fittonia or nerve plants will become leggy when they are not getting enough light. Move them to a bright position near a window or try a UV grow light to help them photosynthesize. Trim off up to 50% of the stem length to help them to grow densely and to replace the leggy stems with new ones.
This article will explore all you need to know about what fittonia get leggy and 4 ways you can save your plant.
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Top causes of a leggy fittonia
Lack of light
The reason why fittonia or nerve plants get leggy is due to low light levels. Fittonia will grow long, soft stems as they grow longer and reach for the light. The stems can become long and bend over leading to a floppy fittonia.
How to fix a leggy fittonia – 4 Easy ways
Here are the top 4 ways to fix a leggy fittonia. Follow each one in order and your fittonia can recover in 3-4 weeks.
Steps to fix a leggy fittonia
- Move it to a bright position
- Prune it
- Liquid fertilizer
- Slow release fertilizer
Here are my top 4 steps to fix a leggy fittonia at home.
1. Move it to a bright position
Move your fittonia into a position that gets bright light throughout the day. A position near a window but avoiding direct sunlight is perfect. Try to keep your fitttonia around 2 feet away from the window to avoid the radiant heat and leaf burn.
This will help to provide the fittonia with enough light to encourage tighter growth and avoid legginess.
2. Prune it
The next step is to prune your fittonia to keep its growth tight. Using sharp, clean secateurs snip off half of the stem length so allow the plant to strengthen its stems after being moved into brighter position. Your fittonia or nerve plant will grow new stems from the point it is cut and grow bushier.
3. Liquid fertilizer
Add a dilute dose of liquid fertilizer that contains a balanced range of nutrients. An indoor liquid plant food is perfect for fittonia and it will give your plant a boost of nitrogen to encourage healthy leaf growth and recover from legginess.
4. Slow release fertilizer
Wait for 4 weeks after applying liquid fertilizer and then apply some slow release fertilizer to feed your fittonia. An indoor plant fertilizer is a balanced and low odor so is perfect for your fittonia. It will gently deliver nutrients over a 3 month period and help the plant to strengthen its stems.
How to prune a leggy fittonia
Leggy fittonia will need to be pruned to help it to recover and grow dense and bushy. It is important to only prune off a maximum of 50% of the stem growth so that it still has enough leaves to photosynthesize.
Use sharp clean secateurs or even sharp kitchen scissors to trim off the stems. Take care because the sap from the stems can be a skin irritant so wear gloves and throw the stems in the bin or compost.
This will remove the worst of the bendy stems and allow the plant to strengthen the remain stems and grow new leaves.
Top ways to make fittonia bushy
After you have had a leggy fittonia it is important to follow some easy steps to grow it dense and bushy. Here are my top tips to keep your fittonia healthy and avoid legginess.
Choose a bright position
Choose a bright position for your fittonia to avoid legginess. Put your fittonia near a window that gets morning light but is protected from direct sun. While fittonia can burn if they get in direct sun, bright light is important to avoid leggy and limp stems.
If you want to put your fittonia in a darker position try a UV strip light. These can be stuck along the top of your bookcase or used to brighten a dark corner. Make sure the lights contain the UV spectrum as this is what your plants will need to photosynthesize.
Check out UV strip lights on Amazon here.
Trim the top
To keep your fittonia dense you can trim off the top set of leaves. This will encourage the stems to split and grow strong. If your fittonia are already leggy go ahead and trim the stems.
Regular water is key to dense, healthy leaf growth on fittonia. These are tropical plants so thrive on moist soil. Avoid keeping the soil wet but regular moisture will help the roots and stems to grow well.
Good quality soil
Good quality soil is key to good leaf and stem growth. Potting soil with a slow release fertilizer will give the plant a great start and feed it for around 2-3 months. After that add a slow release fertilizer in spring and fall to encourage healthy growth.
Humidity is the final key to a healthy fittonia plant. Nerve or fittonia plants love a humidity level above 50% and warm, humid summers. If you do not live in an area that gets higher humidity then you can add this yourself by misting every 2 days or using a humidifier.
Place your fittonia in your bathroom or laundry near a window and they will enjoy the extra humidity created in these rooms.
Leggy Fittonia | Summary
Fittonia plants get leggy when they are getting too much shade and not enough UV light. Use a grow light to give them an extra boost or move them to an area near a window that is brighter. Keep them 2 feet away from the glass and avoid an aspect that gets direct afternoon sun.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.