A lot of emails came to me asking whether fittonia can grow outdoor or not. This beautiful tropical plant is commonly grown as a houseplant. And it is also known as a nerve plant.
In this article, I will tell you in which case you can grow your nerve plant outdoors. And how to care for your outdoor fittonia.
But before diving deep into the details I will put the answer for our main question as simple as this: can fittonia grow outside? Fittonia can grow outside as long as it gets temperature above 40 F. And it is located in a shaded spot.
Keep reading to know how to care for your outdoor nerve plant.
How to care for outdoor fittonia
Caring for your outdoor fittonia is easy just follow the following tips and you are good to go.
The right location for outdoor fittonia
This is the most important factor when it came to growing fittonia outdoors. Fittonia needs bright but indirect sunlight in order to thrive. While it leaves will scorch if it is exposed to direct sunlight.
Therefore, choose a location that is guarded against direct sunlight especially the afternoon sunshine. If the spot allows for one to two hours of early morning direct sunlight it will be great.
But 2 hours of morning sunshine is all that the nerve plant can tolerate in terms of direct sunlight. So keep your nerve plant in a shaded spot.
Also, It will be great if your fittonia plant is located in a humid spot. A place that is near to a fountain or something alike. Since fittonia is native to the rainforests it will thrive in a humid environment.
Fittonia that is located outdoors will consume more water when compared with the ones located indoors. Because in the outdoor environment there is more sunshine which will lead to higher evaporation rate.
Fittonia needs slightly moist but not soggy soil. So you need to find the sweet spot between enough moisture and not soggy soil. But I will make it easier for you, Only water your outdoor fittonia when the top inch of the soil is dry.
And if you planting your fittonia in a pot, water your plant until the water drains from the drainage holes. Wait for enough time until all excess water drains through the drainage holes. Then put the pot in the saucer.
It is important to allow the excess water to drains before you place back the pot in the saucer. Because excess water is what can lead to root rot. Rember I said fittonia needs slightly moist but not soggy soil.
If your soil does not have good drainage properties it will cause root rot. If you want to grow your fittonia outdoors in a pot you can use an all-purpose potting mix. It has the required drainage properties.
On the other hand, if you want to grow your fittonia on the ground, maybe as ground cover. The soil that accommodates your other outdoor plants is ok for your fittonia.
Fittonia aka nerve plant will thrive best in temperatures between 65F and 80F. It will die at a temperature below 40F. IF you live in a place where the temperature falls below 40 F during winter, it is better to grow your outdoor fittonia in a pot.
By doing so you can bring your plant indoors in winter. Or you can grow fittoina outdoors as an annual plant. You enjoy its company for one growing season because it will die in winter.
When I started my gardening journey I had the idea that all plants that are native to the rainforests need more frequent fertilization. I had such an idea because the rainforests are full of organic matters that came from the high biodiversity.
In fact, while it is true that rainforests have high organic matter in their soil but the rain washes all those matters on regular basis. So, your fittonia is not a heavy feeder. But it will thrive if you fertilize it once per month with a balanced liquid fertilizer during the growing season (Summer).
And only apply ¼ of the fertilizer recommended dose. Because fittonia is prone to roots burn in case of overfertilization. It is important to fertilize only when the soil is moist. Never fertilize your outdoor fittonia while its soil is dry.
Also, stop the fertilization completely during winter. Because in winter fittonia become dormant. It focuses on resting rather than active growth.
Fittonia that lives outside can reach a maximum of 8 inches in height. So the pruning is not necessary. People prune their indoor fittonia because sometimes it grows leggy.
Such a thing is because of low light. So the pruning makes fittonia grow bushier. But since your fittonia is located outdoors this means it will get plenty of bright light. So there is no need for pruning. Although you can prune old dead leaves.
A fittonia that is located outdoors will have more blooms when compared with the indoor ones. But fittonia blooms are very tiny and insignificant. People grow fittonia for the foliage. It has either white, red, or pink leaves. So it is better to cut those blooms in order to let the plant focus its energies on foliage growth.
Fittonia is native to the rainforests. Therefore it will thrive in a humid environment. But you don’t have to worry about this because fittonia can tolerate relatively low humidity when compared with other rainforest plants. As long as the humidity level does not fall below 30% you have nothing to worry about.
And if you live in a very dry location. You can mist your outdoor fittonia from time to time to give it a humidity boost.
Moving outdoor fittonia indoors in winter
As I mentioned earlier fittonia will not tolerate temperatures below 40F. So if you live in a place that has a very cold winter it is better to move your outdoor fittonia indoors during winter.
Before moving your plant indoors clean its foliage with alcohol or neem oil in order to kill any pests. Because you don’t want your outdoor fittonia to infect your other houseplants.
In this article, I hope I gave you the information about how to care for your outdoor fittonia. Simply locate your fittonia in a shaded spot, and bring it indoors when the outdoor temperature falls below 40 F. For more detailed information and a holistic perspective on caring for potted plants and mastering Container Gardening, Get my book Container Gardening: A Step-by-Step Practical Guide.