New Fittonia dying/wilting

Corry_EngelbrechtFebruary 4, 2013

Hello! First post here and I'm not used to this type of a forum setup, so bear with me, please. I bought a small Fittonia (first one for me) about a week and a half ago, and as I do with almost all plants I buy, immediately repotted it. It looked fantastic when I bought it, but quite quickly the leaves began to droop and wilt, and not all but a few leaves look TERRIBLE. I originally had it about 8 feet away from an east window with white, closed blinds because I'd read it prefers low light (I've since read several different things and don't know what to believe). When it started to droop, I moved it to a south window, but it only gets indirect light. I've had it over a humidity tray from the beginning and I've kept the soil moist but not soggy. I mist it every day or every other day. Am I doing something wrong? I can get a picture up tomorrow night if you would like. Thanks in advance for any help!

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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Hi Corry, welcome to Gardenweb!

I'm fairly new to this plant also, but can tell you it can take some direct sun in AL in the middle of summer, in the morning or evening. So it sounds like your plant may not be getting enough light, but without knowing where you are, it's hard to make comparisons. Unless it gets a sunburn, more light should be fine.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 9:57AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi Corry & Welcome,

I've grown a fair amount of Fittonias & can tell you they are moisture hogs. I've only done well w/ them in terrariums or in humid bathrooms. IMO open air is too difficult to keep them moist to the levels they want. I otherwise use humidity trays & never found that enough for them.

Given the above, I'm guessing it's that &/or the mix you're using. I find it unlikely it'd wilt from lack of light. You said you repotted, what kind of mix pls? Very peaty? If so, could it have hardened off making it impossible for the plant to drink?

I believe these plants like bright, indirect light. Mine have done well on the edge of west windows, including frosted west windows.

I would not give them direct sun, I seem to recall something abt them being ground cover in woodlands, something like that.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 11:38PM
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Corry_Engelbrecht

I repotted it in a plain, run-of-the-mill potting soil. Scott's brand, I think. I can't find much else around here -- thinking I might have to order stuff to make my own mix when I can afford it. Here's a pic of the plant. Ignore the sad looking coffee tree behind it (it came in the mail that way and I'm hoping to save it!) I live in an apartment and only have east and south windows. In this picture it's about 2 feet below a south window. I live on the bottom floor of a 3 level building, and my floor is half underground, so the windows are sortof high. I'll try to find a clear plastic bag with which to tent it until I can find a more suitable terrarium, and see if I can save it. I really liked this plant before it wilted. I LOVED the red veins on the dark green leaves. So if I can't save it, I hope I can find another one and do it right this time!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 3:04AM
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Corry_Engelbrecht

Oh, I missed that first reply, sorry! I'm in northern Illinois. And thank you both for your replies!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 3:06AM
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Corry_Engelbrecht

Ok, one more picture. Here it is minutes after repotting.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 3:12AM
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AsarumGreenPanda(z6 MA)

That's a great pot choice for it--really sets off the red veins. I don't grow these, myself. I can say, as a fellow buyer of houseplants in winter, that we rarely know what happened to the plant before it came into our care. Who nows what kind of temps it was exposed to during shipping to the retailer, etc. It may have nothing to do with you. (I have no idea, again because I've never grown this plant.) I would try again, once the weather warms up. Meanwhile, can you cut off those collapsed stems and try to root them in water or damp perlite?

Amanda

Amanda

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 8:25AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

I think it's thirst, does that pot have a drainage hole?

Pls. read the ingredients, they may have a wetting agent in them (might might be too wet), but they don't always say.

It may be too late, but I'm thinking about what else might help.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 4:00PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

I think ignoring the coffee tree in the background could be a mistake since there are other plants with problems.

Is it possible you were a little too aggressive trimming the roots when you got it (if you did that?) If not that, I'd think it's drowned/suffocated from the roots. Did the pot it came in have a drain hole? In both pots, soil looks soggy from the dark color, and especially so when compared to a little bit of lighter, not wet soil at the edge of both pots. But, that was really fast, a week and a half?...? Really not sure since that's faster than even I've killed a plant in soggy peat before, thought I was the champ.

When a plant wilts this badly, even when it's just because you forgot to water, it's sometimes fatal. Not sure this poor plant can perk up but hope it does!

The palm is much less forgiving but looks like it's getting yellow tips, or is that just camera flash?

Could it have gotten really cold at the store before you got it? Looking at the pic of it when Fittonia was perky, it looks to me like there's damage starting to show in several of the leaves. When you first got it home, was it really heavy and wet? I'm not sure your plant was perfectly healthy when you brought it home. Can't tell if these spots are camera flash or the beginnings of yellowish spots.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 5:04PM
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Corry_Engelbrecht

Well, I said to ignore the coffee plant because, as I said in my OP, it came in the mail nearly dead. It's not anything I did. In fact, it looks better now than it did, especially after I pruned off a lot of dead stuff. And yes, the soil on both is moist -- I'd just watered them. Everything I've read on both of them said to do so. It's not soggy. And those could be yellowing spots in the 'before' picture, or it could be pixelation. Hard to say. It was taken with a camera phone under florescent lights. I *did* buy the Fittonia from Walmart, so I don't have expectations that it was treated fabulously at all. Anyway, I tented it, just in this afternoon, parts of it *have* perked up a bit. I'm currently on the lookout for a more permanent solution. Oh, and and this point I can't remember how soggy/wet/heavy it was when I got it, to be honest. And yes, it was a week and a half and not longer. I bought it on payday.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 2:33AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Sorry, I try to refresh my memory before I write stuff but

" it came in the mail nearly dead."

didn't notice that part of what you said.

Also sorry if my tone came across as terse. I absolutely didn't mean to sound that way or give you the impression I thought you were doing something wrong, got my Fittonias from WM too. Any plants I buy from there are either drowning wet or about deadly dry. Just don't want you to be too hard on yourself for something that may not be your fault.

Not sure what you're using for a tent but if it's not visually appealing, maybe an aquarium could be a way to provide extra humidity while still being able to see your pretty plant well. Sit the pot in there with a little pebble tray and mostly cover the top, take it out to water well. If you don't like that idea, maybe a glass cloche would help.

Sharing your excitement about the perking up! Good to hear.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 9:37AM
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Sarah1502

Hello Corry,

I am currently trying to save my grandmother's fittonia. Her caregiver was overwatering it. I repotted it and cut off the big leaves. I see some new little leaves sprouting. I am hopeful that it will make it. I hope yours makes it too! Please update us on its progress as it recovers.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 5:23PM
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tropicbreezent

I've got a Fittonia I've had for 6 or more years and have found it to be what I call a "cast iron plant". They are quite tough. Mine gets no care other than a couple of years ago I noticed heavy rains seemed to have washed a lot of the soil out of the pot, so just topped it up. It get direct morning sun up close to midday and has no problem with that. More than likely yours was just reacting to the repotting and will come good. I'd give it a bit more time.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 8:14PM
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Corry_Engelbrecht

@purpleinopp: It's all good. I think I was starving when I read and replied, so I was grumpy and probably shouldn't have been replying at the time anyway. Sorry if I came off defensive. It's currently tented with a gallon-sized ziplock back, which really isn't big enough, but it's all I can find to work with at the moment that's clear.

And update: when I got home from work this morning (I work 3rd shift), one of the three stems was pretty much fully perked, but the other two still weren't. Giving it another day or so before I decide anymore on what to do. Here's the pic.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:35AM
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Corry_Engelbrecht

And here it is in it's tent at 11pm tonight as I was rushing out the door. I'm out of town for a couple of days now so I won't be able to check on it til sometime Friday.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:37AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

I know all about grumpy moments, all good, no prob. Looks like the tent's helping. Hope it's a good trip!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 8:33AM
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Corry_Engelbrecht

Ok, after reading up a bit on terrariums, I'm discovering that I *might* just have a container that would work. I'll have to check the size when I get home. Otherwise, I now want to start a couple of terrariums anyway, so I'll be on the lookout for some good containers! :P

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 6:12AM
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AsarumGreenPanda(z6 MA)

That looks much improved--great save. We'll look forward to seeing and hearing about the terrariums as you create them.

Amanda

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 11:13AM
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Corry_Engelbrecht

Just got home and now TWO of three are fully perkified! :D Other one is still limp, but I guess I'll give it a bit more time and see how it goes.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 11:17AM
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