Fittonia albivenis (Verschaffeltii Group)
Common Name: mosaic plant 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Acanthaceae
Zone: 11 to 12
Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers not showy
Bloom Description: White to reddish-white
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zone 11 where plants may be grown outdoors as creeping ground covers (stems root at the nodes when they touch the ground) in protected locations in shady areas. In colder climates this plant should be grown indoors as a houseplant in a peaty or soil-based potting mixture. It is best sited in bright indirect light (east or north window) or dappled part sun. Avoid direct sun. Room temperature should always remain above 55°F. Plants prefer high humidity. Withering of leaves may indicate a need for increased humidity. One way to increase humidity is with a room humidifier. Another way is to set the potted plant on a wet pebble tray and, as the water evaporates, add new water as needed. Misting the foliage also helps. Dwarf forms of this plant can be grown in the humidified atmosphere of a terrarium. Water plant soils regularly but moderately during the year. Yellowing of leaves may indicate overwatering. Pinch off ends of growing stems to shape plants and to promote denser foliage. The flowers are not particularly showy, so many growers also pinch off any flowers buds that appear. Propagate by stem cuttings.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Fittonia albivenis, commonly called nerve plant or mosaic plant, is a creeping, evergreen perennial native to tropical rainforests in South America (Columbia and Peru). Mature plants will reach up to 8" tall and spread to fill a 1.5' area. The deep, olive-green, ovate foliage can reach up to 4" long and has contrasting white to red veins. The upright, terminal, spike type inflorescences can reach up to 3" long and are made up of densely packed bracts. The small, creamy white, tubular flowers are held between the bracts. Typically grown to showcase the striking foliage.

Genus name honors the sisters Elizabeth and Sarah Mary Fitton (d.1866), authors of Conservations on Botany (1817).

The specific epithet albivenis means "with white veins", in reference to the color of the leaf veins of this species.

Verschaffeltii Group plants typically grow to 6" tall and feature attractive broad ovate green leaves (to 4 1/2" long) with a striking network of red veins. Plants rarely flower (white tinged red in spikes) in cultivation. Flower buds are often removed as they appear because the non-showy flowers are often considered to detract greatly from the decorative appearance of the foliage.

Problems

Watch for mealybugs, scale and slugs. Spider mites may appear. Rots may occur if plants are overwatered. Susceptible to leaf spots. Foliage will scorch in direct sun.

Garden Uses

Ground cover in tropical areas. Good houseplant for containers or hanging baskets to showcase the trailing habit of the stems. Dwarf plants are suitable for terrariums.