Fittonia verschaffeltii (or Nerve Plant, as it is known to most people who don’t speak Latin) is a great terrarium plant. Native to the tropical areas of South America such as Peru, Colombia and Venezuela, it thrives in the kind of humid conditions that a terrarium excels at creating. It doesn’t even like a lot of sunlight, and too much direct light can quickly cause it to burn and dry out. It has little tolerance for dry air or drafts, so it will thrive best in a closed terrarium with only indirect light.
Nerve plants are so named because of their bright white or pinkish-red vein patterns that contrast strongly with the dark green of the leaves. The pattern was thought to mimic the structure of the nervous system in the human body, although our systems are actually much more complicated.
They also grow quite low and bushy, and have a tendency to spread out sideways instead of growing up, which helps to make them such excellent terrarium plants. Be careful to keep it under control, though, because its spread can reach up to a foot, which is larger than most terrariums. It’s easy to keep it in line by simply pinching off the tips of new growth, and careful pruning of its horizontal spread will keep it the right size for your container. It grows up to 6″ tall in the wild, so it’s up to you how much of that you want it to reach.
This quick growing trait makes it extremely easy to root new cuttings, which it does best in the same warm humid environment it grows. It should only take 2-3 weeks for rooting to occur, by which point you’ll be ready with your next terrarium plant project!