A mosaic plant, or Fittonia albivenis, is a tender, creeping perennial often grown as a houseplant. It gets its name from its multicolored leaves which have white, pink or bright red contrasting veins. The leaves are small and oval shaped and grow on trailing, fuzzy stems which produce tiny white flowers on an irregular basis. Native to the rainforests of Peru, these tropical plants will not survive temperatures below 60° Fahrenheit (16° Celsius). The mosaic plant has numerous cultivars and is known by several other names including nerve plant, painted-net leaf, and silver-net leaf.
These ornamental plants are not a good choice for beginners because they can be difficult to grow and require some special treatment. They require more frequent watering than most houseplants and will die if allowed to dry out. They should not be kept in standing water, however, as this will cause root rot. Mosaic plants should be planted shallowly in rich soil with a high humus or peat content. They should be placed away from direct sunlight because this can cause the leaves to grow smaller and turn brown.
Since they are tropical plants, mosaic plants should be kept in an area with high humidity. A greenhouse environment is perfect for them, but a terrarium or bottle garden will work as well. If grown in a regular house setting, these plants need to be misted frequently, and the room should be kept consistently warm. Either the bathroom or kitchen is usually the best choice for mosaic plants; these rooms tend to be the most humid. A humidifier may be beneficial to the mosaic plant as well.
Mosaic plants can be propagated from cuttings and rooting hormone is not required. The cuttings should be about 5 inches (12.5 m) long and have three or four leaves. They will grow when planted directly in potting soil and kept well watered. They can also be planted in the pot with the original plant to increase its bushiness. While these perennial plants can be started from seed, the seedlings may be slower growing than those started from cuttings.
In areas where the mosaic plant can be grown outdoors, it will often spread and form a mat-like root system. This makes it a good choice for a ground cover in shady locations. It is also a good option for planting in sloping gardens and will help to prevent soil erosion in areas with heavy rainfall. The plants are nontoxic to animals, thus making them suitable for homes with pets.