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. South of USDA Zone 11, this plant should be grown indoors as a houseplant in a peaty or soil-based potting mixture. Indoors, it is best sited in bright indirect light (east or north window) or in dappled part sun. Avoid direct sun. Room temperature should always remain above 55 degrees 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 was is to set the potted plant on a wet pebble tray and, as the water evaporates, add new water as needed. Misting 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. Many growers also pinch off all flower buds as they appear. Propagate by stem cuttings.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Fittonia albivenis is a creeping, evergreen perennial that is native to tropical rainforests in South America (Columbia and Peru). Plants are typically grown to showcase the striking foliage. Vershcaffeltii Group plants feature dark green leaves with pink/red veins. Argyroneura Group plants feature dark green leaves with white veins. The intricate leaf veins give rise to the common names of mosaic plant and nerve plant. 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.

Genus name honors Elizabeth and Sarah Mary Fitton who wrote Conversations on Botany published in 1817.

Problems

No serious insect or disease 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 full sun.

Garden Uses

Ground cover in tropical areas. As a houseplant, best in hanging baskets or containers. Dwarf plants for terrariums.