Nerve plant leaves curling can be a cause for concern. People adore nerve plants for their attractive leaves covered with vein-like structures. Still, Fittonia plants are tropical members of the Acanthaceae family and may be difficult to grow and maintain.

Nerve Plant Leaves Curling

Your plant may experience leaf curling issues if certain conditions aren’t favorable for healthy development.

Continue reading to understand how to treat Fittonia correctly and how to fix the curling issue.

What Causes Fittonia Leaves to Curl?

What causes fittonia leaves to curl consists of several different factors. Your plant could be suffering because of one or several of these reasons. The factors are not receiving enough water, too much fertilizer, lack of nutrition, temperature stress, root decay, quality of water and insect infestations among others. 

– Not Receiving Enough Water 

You should pay attention to watering Fittonia since it natively inhabits damp woodlands with frequent rainfall. Fittonia roots cannot supply the top sections of the plant with enough water if the soil is dry.

Turgor pressure is a physiological mechanism that provides plants their firmness and rigidity. It is characterized as the force pushing the cell membrane against the cell wall. Lack of water causes the turgor pressure to drop, which causes the leaves to wilt and curl downward.

– Providing Fertilizer to Fittonia in Excess

Fertilizers include drawbacks resulting from over-fertilizing along with the benefits of plant nourishment. Salts and extra nitrogen build up in the soil due to fertilizer overuse. High salt concentrations reduce water absorption, which causes leaf dryness and, as a result, curling leaves.

When the environment is extremely salty, root cells are under plasmolysis because salt particles tend to absorb water. Due to this, the plant’s upper portions and the root system cannot get water. As a result, in addition to the leaves becoming yellow and possibly withering away the entire plant, you also have curled leaves.

– Lack of Nutrition

Your Fittonia leaf curling may occasionally be the result of a nutritional deficit. Several minerals, including potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, and sulfur, are essential for the plant’s healthy growth and development. Their lack can impede the plant’s essential metabolic activities, causing leaf margins to curl and turn yellow.

After the plant uses the soil for a while, it may become depleted. Additionally, a pH outside the ideal range can prevent the root and, as a result, the entire plant from accessing the regularly present nutrients in the soil.

Nerve Plant Leaves Curling Problem

An environment that is too acidic produces free nutrients and complicated chemicals that the plant ordinarily cannot absorb. Nutrients are, in other words, “stuck” in the soil. Since the leaves don’t receive them, chlorosis also causes the leaves to curl downward. So, you should consider providing your plant with nutrients in such cases.

– Temperature Stress

The coldness is intolerable to Fittonia. Since this plant is acclimated to tropical temperatures naturally, it is detrimental for winter temperatures to drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold weather increases the viscosity of the water in leaf cells. The permeability of the cell membrane is also compromised. Cold temperatures stop the production of proteins – these circumstances cause damage to the leaf tissue, which is seen in the Fittonia’s crusty and curled foliage.

– Root Decay Caused by Excessive Watering

More harm than underwatering can be done to the Fittonia by large amounts of water. The root stiffens from wet soil, which leads to anoxic conditions. The root tissue is broken down by fungi that can grow in this environment.

The consequence of the aforementioned is a rotten root, distinguished by its vile smell and moldy, blackened look. Fittonia leaves will start curving downward and getting smaller.

– Quality of Water

Household tap water may contain contaminants and harmful mineral deposits for Fittonia, like complex salts. These include limescale, fluorides, and chlorides.

Dissolved salts alter the chemical composition of the soil in the water. Ions from the salt accumulation displace the necessary nutrients, resulting in a deficiency of these elements in the leaves. Additionally, salts suck water from the root, thus “stealing” it. But, it is possible to increase the quality of your tap water easily!

– Exposure to too Much or too Little Light

For Fittonia to flourish, the right lighting conditions are crucial. On foliage, direct sunlight can result in sunburns. Additionally, by weakening the photosynthesis electron chain, too much light affects the photosynthesis process.

Small amounts of light also disrupt photosynthesis when there is minimal light. This process’ photochemical phase cannot occur without enough light to trigger the reactions. Fittonia leaves lose their vibrant green hue and develop crusty, curled edges.

– Infestation of Insects

Fittonia, like the majority of plants, can receive unwanted visitors like mealybugs, mites, aphids, caterpillars, etc. They harm the leaves by nibbling and sucking on them.

These wounds act as a doorway for infections and infectious bacteria that assault the inner tissue of the leaf. The margins of the leaves eventually turn yellow and crust over, and they start to curl up and down.

– Low Humidity

Given that the rainforest is its native environment, Fittonia enjoys taking baths in the humid air. The transpiration rate rises in dry air, which causes the leaves to dry. The leaves are primarily curled downward, and the plant as a whole appears to be drooping. The entire leaf surface then becomes wilted.

– Type of Soil

You must be careful when selecting the potting soil for Fittonia growing. Clay and other compact soils tend to hold onto water. These soil types have poor drainage, so if you choose them, you’ll probably have issues like waterlogging and root rot.

Poor potting soil selection results in an anoxic root environment, poor tissue aeration, etc. This shows leaf damage, including curling and sometimes even decaying of the leaves.

– Pot Size

You must pay attention to this problem even though it may not seem significant. Fittonia is a rather small plant; therefore, overwatering can be an issue in large containers. You are well aware of the effects of excess water in the soil.

This does not imply that you ought to cultivate your Fittonia in a smaller pot because doing so can result in root entanglement and a lack of room for root elongation. Additionally, the plant will need more water in a little pot.

Fittonia foliage curls and loses its glossy, green color due to overwatering (caused by planting Fittonia in a big pot), underwatering (caused by cultivating Fittonia in a small pot), and stunted roots.

How Do You Fix Nerve Plant Issues To Avoid Leaf Curling?

To fix nerve plant issues to avoid leaf curling, the underwatering issues should be remedied, as well as overfeeding, nutritional issues and overwatering, etc. What you change will obviously depend on the diagnosis you made and it will show the way forward. 

– Fix Underwatering 

The soil surface cannot be allowed to become dry and crunchy. You can examine the soil’s moisture level by sticking your index finger partly into the ground. It’s time to water if you notice dryness at this depth.

Remove the yellow leaves to save the plants from squandering nutrients on damaged tissue. Make sure the sun doesn’t shine directly on your plant.

– Solving Overfeeding 

You may flush the extra salts away if the plant isn’t too damaged. Because it doesn’t contain substances or pollutants, distilled water is the finest choice for this application. Let the soil in the pot leach. It should stay dry on the ground. Establish a sound drainage system to prevent this. The pot’s bottom must contain holes to ensure that water can drain.

Solve your Leaves Curling

You should use organic compost instead of chemical fertilizers. Keep the peel after peeling a potato or breaking an egg. You may use those to produce incredibly nutritional meals for your Fittonia while avoiding soil salinization. Fittonia that is severely injured should be transplanted in new, fresh soil if you want to save it.

– Resolve Nutritional Problems

For dry soil, you should add a suitable fertilizer, or even better, handmade compost or vermicompost, to the potting soil. If there is insufficient moisture – sometimes due to the substrate – the plant cannot absorb the necessary nutrients.

For nutrient-deficient soil, use the calcium and bicarbonate-rich water for a while. This kind of water is sold in many supermarket stores. It will aid in balancing the environment’s acidity and the breakdown of complicated molecules. Avoid using humus for a while because humic acids will exacerbate the issue.

– Clear Up Overwatering Issues

Take the entire plant from the pot, then run gentle water over the root. Trim the plant’s decayed parts, then wrap it with newspaper. Discard the contaminated potting soil, then wash it with detergent to make it sterile.

Repot the plant in the new, nutrient-rich potting mix after a few days. Liquid fertilizer can be added to aid in the healing process. Cut the healthy portion of the plant with a stem and submerge it in the water if the entire root is rotten. It should be transformed into potting soil after it grows adventive roots.

– Fix Temperature Issues

The temperatures wherever you keep Fittonia should be raised. About 20oC (70oF) is the ideal temperature for Fittonia development. Don’t water it with water that is too cold. It lessens the soil’s microbial activity.

– Water Quality Issues Unraveled

Before watering your Fittonia, filter the tap water to ensure it is clean. After coating it with filter paper, put a regular funnel atop the watering can. Wait for the water to drain before lightly pouring in some tap water. Throw away the precipitate. For this use, you can purchase a commercial water filter. Additionally, you can save rainfall and utilize it to irrigate your plants.

– Light Requirements Concerns

Fittonia prefers direct, bright sunlight. Put a curtain over the windowpane to block out direct sunlight if you wish to keep Fittonia there. You can use an LED bulb to improve the lighting because it doesn’t generate heat and is safe for plants.

– Solve Infestation Issues

To lessen the number of pests, consider showering Fittonia. This can significantly lessen the issue, but you must use a pesticide appropriate for the pest species when a plant is overrun with bugs.

Make a 1:1 solution of water and enough insecticide to avoid the phytotoxic effects of the pesticides. Spray the pest-infested regions with the solution after pouring it into a spray bottle. Ensure the drainage system is in good working order before applying pesticides to the soil.

– Low Humidity Issues

Keep the Fittonia away from heaters and air conditioners. The air humidity can be reduced by anything that mimics windy circumstances in some way. Leaves are occasionally misted. To enhance the humidity around the plant, place a pebble tray there or use a humidifier; dry your washing in the area where you store the Fittonia or place it in the bathroom.

– Soil Type Issues

Select airy, loose potting soil before planting. Good options include fertile soil, loam, and silt. If you are already experiencing this issue, you can prevent repotting by amending the soil with vermiculite or peat. Trim away the harmed leaves.

– Fix Potting With a Move

Every two to three years, move the Fittonia to a little bigger container. You must water the plant sparingly if the pot is too big to prevent overwatering. You have to change the pot and replace the potting medium of your Fittonia because a little pot should be swapped out for a larger one.

Nerve Plant Leaves Curling Opinion


To successfully grow Fittonia, several considerations need to be made – try to replicate the conditions in the rainforest. Mostly, exercise caution with the following items:

  • Concerning watering the important factors are water quantity and frequency. As soon as you detect the earth getting dry, water your Fittonia.
  • The best light is indirect sunlight. Allow for bright, indirect sunlight.
  • Favorable chemistry-related environmental factors. Acidic or salty soil wouldn’t be appealing to Fittonia. Fertilize sparingly.
  • Use pure water free from hard substances that could upset the pH equilibrium.

On the Fittonia plant, curled foliage is a common sign of stress. Thankfully, lowering the amount of direct sunshine and raising humidity usually resolve this problem.


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