Botanical name: Maranta leuconeura
Common name: Prayer Plant
Maranta leuconeura are low growing plants with long leaves known for their curious habit of folding and raising at night and hence their common name, Prayer Plant.
With their uniquely colored and patterned leaves, Maranta are excellent for addition to any houseplants collection.
Marantas are moderately easy to care for. They require partial shade, moist soil at all times and high humidity. Due to their sensitivity to changes in growing conditions, they are ideal for growing in a terrarium.
Maranta rarely exceed the height of 8 in. The leaves are about 6 in. long.
Many varieties and cultivars of Maranta are available. Some of the common ones include Maranta tricolor commonly called Herringbone Plant whose leaves bear prominent red veins.
Other common varieties include Maranta leuconeura kerchoveana commonly called Rabbit's Tracks whose leaves bear brown blotches which turn green with age and Maranta leuconeura massangeana whose leaves are blackish green with silvery veins among others.
These groups of plants are sometimes commonly called Prayer Plants in reference to their curious characteristic of closing their leaves at night.
Maranta are native to tropical Central and South America and the West Indies. Maranta are named for Bartolomeo Maranta, an Italian physician and botanist of the 16th century.
Beautiful Maranta in various sizes are readily available online at Etsy. Buy Maranta Plants (Maranta leuconeura) online from Etsy.
Photo Credit: Crocus
Maranta are easy to care for when given the optimum growth conditions. They require partial light, consistently moist, fertile, well-drained soil, a warm and humid enviroment, and monthly feeding.
Maranta leuconeura requires regular pruning to keep it neat as well as rejuvenate growth. Repotting is needed every 2 years to keep the plant thriving. Continue reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.
Maranta grow best in partial light as colors fade in bright light. Too little light will cause the leaves to close like they do at night.
Keep Maranta leuconeura away from direct sunlight as it can lead to sunburn on leaves. Maranta can also grow under a grow light where natural light is inadequate.
Regularly rotate the pot to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides for uniform growth and also avoid leggy growth.
Water Maranta thoroughly during the growing season and keep the soil moist at all times. Reduce watering in the cold season as growth is minimal at this time but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.
Being a tropical plant, water the plant with water that is at room temperature to avoid shocking the plant which can result in reduced growth.
Maranta Plants are sensitive to chemicals dissolved in water, therefore, water Maranta with water that is free of chlorine and flourides.
Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot and eventual death of the plant.
Avoid wetting the foliage during watering or water from the bottom instead to prevent fungal infestation.
Maranta prefer average warmth with a minimum of 150C. Protect the plant from cold draughts and sudden changes in temperature as they can cause leaf drop.
Maranta require high humidity inorder to thrive. To raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier. Check out these techniques on how to raise humidity for houseplants.
You can also grow Maranta in a terrarium as a high humidity can be maintained inside a terrarium.
Clean the leaves of Maranta by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to keep them clean and neat as well as discourage pest and disease infestation.
Feed Maranta with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once monthly through out the growing season. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn.
Repot Maranta every 2 years at the beginning of the growing season. Use a pot with a drainage hole and free-draining soil that is rich in organic matter.
Marantas do not like to sit in soggy soil, therefore, ensure the soil is free-draining and the pot has a drainage hole as soggy soil can lead to root-rot.
The large plants can be divided at the time of repotting and use the splits to propagate new plants.
The best soil for Maranta should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients. Most multi-purpose potting mixes are ideal for Maranta.
Pruning Maranta is easy as it involves removal of dead and yellow foliage to maintain the plant neat and attractive. Cut back the stems at the beginning of the growing season to rejuvenate growth.
Maranta leuconeura propagation can be done at the beginning of the growing season by plant division or from stem-tip cuttings.
Take the Maranta Plant out of its pot and divide it into several sections. Ensure each section has some roots inorder to hasten rooting.
Pot the sections into individual pots in moist, free-draining soil. Ensure the pots have a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting
Cover the pots with clear polythene to create a greenhouse effect and maintain warm humid conditions which hasten establishment.
Place the pots in a warm, brightly-lit place away from direct sunlight until new growth has emerged in the sections.
Gradually remove the polythene cover over a period of two weeks to acclimatize the new plants.
Then move the set up to a warm, well-lit place and maintain the soil moist until the new Maranta Plants are well established after which routine care can begin.
Take a stem-tip cuttings from a healthy Maranta Plant by cutting the stem just below a leaf node. Dip the cut end of the cutting in a rooting hormone to hasten rooting and insert the cutting in moist, rooting soil.
Place the set up in warm, semi-shaded place and maintain the soil moist through out until new growth emerges.
Allow the new Maranta Plants to be well established before transplanting after which routine care can begin.
Maranta stem-tip cutting can also be rooted in water. Take a stem-tip cuttings from a healthy Maranta Plant by cutting the stem just below a leaf node.
Dip the cut end of the cutting in rooting hormone and place the cutting in a glass jar of plain water.
Place the set up in a well-lit spot and change the water at least every 5-7 days.
When the roots are about 2 in. long, gradually add soil into the water to acclimatize the cutting roots to growing in soil.
When the roots are about 4 in. long, the cuttings can be potted into individual pots.
Keep the soil moist and mist the plant regularly until new growth emerges.
Allow the new Maranta Plants to be well established before transplanting.
Photo Credit: Gardeners Dream
Maranta leuconeura problems indoors are caused by cultural faults in lighting, humidity, watering and temperature. The problems include dropping leaves, brown leaf tips, leaf spots, yellowing, stunted growth, rotting, pests and diseases among others. Continue reading for more details on these problems and how to fix them.
Maranta dropping leaves is due to too dry air (low humidity). These plants are very sensitive to low air humidity.
Set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity or grow the plant in the humid areas in the home if the light is adequate.
Maranta can also be grown in a terrarium as a high humidity can be maintained in a terrarium.
Maranta limp and rotting stems are due to too cold air and or too wet soil. At this point, the plant may be too far gone to be saved.
To prevent limp and rotting stems maintain an average warmth with a minimum of 150C. Keep the plant away from cold draughts and sudden changes in temperature.
Also, avoid soggy soil by ensuring that the pot has a drainage hole and that the soil is free-draining.
Maranta curled, spotted leaves and lower leaves yellowing are due to underwatering. Water the plant thoroughly and keep the soil moist at all times during the growing season.
Do not let the soil dry out between waterings but reduce watering during the cold season. Read more on how to water houseplants.
Maranta brown and dry leaf tips accompanied by stunted growth are an indication of spider mite infestation due to the air being too dry.
Remove the dead growth and set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity or grow the plant in the humid areas of the home like the bathroom if the lighting is adequate.
Maranta discolored or scorched leaves are due to exposure to direct sunlight on your plant. Move the Maranta to a shaded spot or protect it from direct sunlight to prevent its death.
Common pests in Maranta are mealy bugs, aphids, scale insects and spider mites. Isolate the affected Maranta plant to prevent spread to the other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the pests. Check out this guide on how to identify and control houseplants pests.
Maranta is prone to leaf spot disease due to the humid conditions that Maranta prefers. Isolate the affected Maranta plant to prevent spread to the other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the disease.
Maranta Plants (Maranta leuconeura) are non-toxic to both humans and pets as indicated by ASPCA. They are safe to grow indoors.