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Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura): Home

The red-veined prayer plant variety <em>Maranta leuconeura</em> var.<em> erythroneura</em>
The red-veined prayer plant variety Maranta leuconeura var. erythroneura

Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura)

An important factor in determining the suitability of a plant to your home and envisioning the care it will need, is to know the origin of the plant. Plants that are native to desert regions will  require substantial amount of sunlight and loose, fast-draining soil. Plants from the floor of a rainforest will need some protection from strong sunlight and generous humidity.

Maranta is closely related to Goeppertia and is a tropical plant that needs high humidity and protection from strong sun. Think of the leafy filtering of light in a rainforest and the clouds of warm, wet air. Originating in the rainforests of Central and South America, the name prayer plant comes from the plant's habit of raising and folding its leaves at night. This plant is low-growing and varies significantly in leaf pattern.

Light:

The exceptional leaf color fades in the sun, so keep plants in partial shade, for instance, a shady window or protected from the strongest light by a sheer curtain.

Water and Humidity:

Keep thoroughly moist with tepid water during the growing period (March through September). Reduce watering in winter so that the top inch of potting mix dries out. Plants need consistent humidity. Use a pebble tray or mist daily. Placement in a terrarium or use of a humidifier is effective. Hard water is not recommended and will leave mineral deposits on leaves.

Temperature:

Household temperatures between 65 and 70°F. are ideal. Avoid sudden changes and always keep above 55°F.  In temperatures above the low 60's, be aware of greater humidity needs.

Re-potting:

In spring, every one or two years, in a soil-based mixture with some added peat and sharp sand. Keep the soil loose in the pot.

Nutrition:

Standard liquid fertilizer every two weeks during the growing period (March through September).

What to watch for:

Moisture is the key to success with these plants. If leaf tips and edges brown, or leaves fall, it is probably because the plant needs more consistently moist soil or greater humidity.

Maranta leuconeura at NYBG; photo by Marlon Co
Maranta leuconeura at NYBG; photo by Marlon Co

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