Maranta Plant | Prayer Plant
The Maranta Plant, commonly called the Prayer Plant, is grown for its attractive foliage. As the sun sets its leaves fold up, hence the name Prayer Plant. When the sun rises in the morning the leaves of the Maranta Plant will open up again.
The Maranta Plant, long believed to have originated in the tropical forest of Brazil, grew in the filtered light on the forest floor as ground cover. Recent DNA testing now suggests an African origin for the Maranta.
Regardless of its origin the Maranta Leuconeura has become a popular houseplant for its colorful foliage. The variety erythroneura, known as Maranta Red, boasts oval lime green leaves with red veins and darker areas on the topsides of the leaves. The variety Massangeana, also called Maranta Black, displays light green oval leaves with white veins and darker areas on the upper sides of the leaves.Both varieties display spectacular foliage colors, making up for the rather insignificant flower spikes.
Maranta Plants require medium to bright light to maintain their colorful foliage. Direct sunlight will dull or even worse burn the leaves. If the leaves do not open up fully during the day, the Prayer Plant may not be getting enough light.
Maranta Plants need to be kept warm. Night time temperatures should not go below 60oF and day time temperatures should be in the 70oF to 85oF range.
Prayer Plants should be potted in well drained soil with a little peat added to create an acidic mix, the same as it would encounter on the forest floor.
Maranta Plants require high humidity. Dry air will cause the tips of the leaves to brown. Misting will help. Placing the Prayer Plant on a tray of pebbles with water amongst the pebbles will help to raise the humidity. Also grouping plants together will raise the humidity in the area. Maranta plants are at home in a terrarium where the humidity is naturally elevated.
Prayer Plants should be kept evenly moist but not soggy. They should not be allowed to dry out completely between waterings. As with almost all plants they require less water in the winter.
Maranta Plants should be fertilized with a weak solution of balanced fertilizer with each watering during the summer growing season. No fertilizing is needed during the winter.
Prayer Plants can be propagated by dividing the rhizome when repotting in February or March. The soil should be washed away from the roots and the rhizome divided by cutting carefully. Then each section can be replanted with fresh potting soil augmented with peat.
In the spring and early summer, stem cuttings can be taken by cutting just below the node closest to the bottom of the stem. Place the cutting in a moist mixture of peat and perlite. Cover the cuttings with clear plastic to keep them moist and place in a sunny location. Some holes should be cut in the plastic for ventillation.
Stem cutting can also be dipped in rooting hormone and placed in water. Filtered water is best, and it should be changed every 2 to 3 days. Wait for roots to be about 1 inch long before planting in soil.
Maranta Plants can be repotted in February and March. They should be planted in pots that provide good drainage so that the soil will not stay soggy.
Prayer Plants make an excellent desk or table plant and in the summer will be happy on a window sill. During winter, however, move them out of the window as the cold will damage the leaves of the Maranta Plant.