Better known as the ‘Mosaic plant’ or ‘Nerve plant’, Fittonia, (pronounced fit-tone-ee-a) has two species, the larger leaf Fittonia Superba and the smaller Fittonia Verschaffeltii. The plant is named after a pair of 19th Century Irish botanical writers, Elizabeth and Sarah Mary Fitton.
The most common plant is the Fittonia Verschaffeltii, which is known for its vein-like leaves which branch out from the centre towards the tip. These lines are connected with finer lines, like arteries, placed at intervals creating an irregular, angled grid on the surface of the leaf. This pattern can look similar to a mosaic pattern.
All 15 species of Fittonia vary in colour and although the leaves are almost always green, the lines on them can differ from white to a bright pink. All varieties have soft hairs on the stems and can produce small flowers which are mainly white in colour. This plant can be grown in a pot, yet is grown more successfully in a terrarium.
Found in South-American rainforests, predominantly Peru, the Fittonia is often planted in gardens in more temperate regions of the World. Unable to tolerate extremes, this is a plant that does not thrive in frosty environments, arid temperatures or places of direct sunlight.
Fittonia typically flowers in early to mid-summer and requires a temperature of at least 15 degrees during winter so it can maintain a steady growth rate.
Fittonia is of the Acanthaceae plant family, with each variety known by a common, usually descriptive name. For instance the ‘Fittonia Verschaffeltii Bianco Verdi’ takes its name from its white and green coloured leaves and the ‘Fittonia Verschaffeltii Pink Star’ from its distinctive pink veins.
Fittonias don’t like the cold so keep them above 13˚C in the winter and at a warm temperature all year round (never below 18°C/64°F). This is a plant that enjoys a bright to shady position, but during winter move to a brighter position to retain leaf colour. A high level of humidity is preferred so it is advised to stand the plant in its pot in a saucer of wet gravel. Feed fortnightly during summer, water regularly and keep moist by misting.
Did You Know?
The distinctive patterned leaves of the Fittonia have earned it a number of nicknames, including ‘Silver Nerve’ and ‘Snakeskinplant’.