Fittonia albivenis: Nerve plant, Mosaic plant

Family: Acanthaceae
Common name: Nerve plant, Mosaic plant, Fittonia, Painted net leaf, Silver net plant, Net plant

Nerve plants can beautify your gardens or interiors with their beautiful foliage of green leaves, with contrasting colors like white, pink or red along the veins. These beautiful patterns give them the names Mosaic plant, Painted net leaf, Net plant and Silver net plant.

Nerve plants can be a bit finicky to grow – too little water will cause it to wilt, too much water can cause root rot, and too much sun can burn the leaf edges. But if they are grown in indirect sunlight with regular watering, these plants will thrive, and fill growing containers or pots very quickly. They grow to a height of 10-15 cms, with a tender, hairy, green stem, and oval-shaped leaves that are 3-8 cms long.

Though it is uncommon in house plants, Nerve plants produce small white or off-white flowers that are quite inconspicuous compared to the flamboyant leaves. Fittonia plants can be grown outdoors or indoors quite successfully, provided there is some indirect sunlight.

They can be pruned gently if the stem becomes gangly. These plants can spread quickly by rooting where the horizontal roots touch the soil.

Other common species are Fittonia argyroneura and Fittonia pearcei both characterized by beautiful patterns of venation on the leaves. There are some variants too, with lovely names like Black Star, Fortissimo, Angel snow, White Anne, White brocade, Superba, Titanic, Red star, Ruby red, Pink star, Pink vein, Pink Angel, Mini Super all them of having colorful, flamboyant leaves that can transform your garden.

Since the leaves and stem of Fittonia plants are tender, they could have problems like yellowing, wilting, browning, aphids, mealy bugs and fungal infestations that have to be treated urgently.

They are native to the tropical rain forests of South America, but are now seen in gardens and nurseries world-over. These ornamental plants are quite popular with gardeners, though they are not easy to maintain.

Propagation is through stem cuttings.