How to care
for your Maranta
Named after Bartolomeo Maranta, an Italian physician and botanist of the 16th century, the Maranta is native to – no, not Italy – but France! It’s more commonly known as a Prayer plant since their leaves fold up at night like two small hands coming together at the foot of a bed just before it’s bedtime.
Low and slow growing – these Prayer plants can eventually get up to a foot tall in your home. We recommend Prayer plants for smaller spaces if you’re looking for something that won’t outgrow your micro-sized apartment too quickly. Plus, they’re a low, lush plant with incredibly beautiful and colourful leaves in case you’re looking to add more than just green to your décor and list of things to keep alive.
Maranta leuconeura var. ‘Massangeana’ (Black Prayer Plant)
Maranta leuconeura “marisela”
Care Level : Beginner, Expert or Somewhere in the middle.
If you’re looking for something low-maintenance, unfortunately you’ll have to say a little prayer and move on. Prayer plants are somewhere in the middle – pushing expert – since they tend to go dormant and require meticulous attention to their watering schedule to keep them happy.
In our experience, Prayer plants are very susceptible to drought and can wither away easily if they’re not on a strict watering schedule. Moreover – and anecdotally – many people report their Prayer plants are quite prone to attracting pests like mealybugs and spider-mites. To hit peak growth and happiness – and not unlike acceptable-sized carry-on luggage – there’s a host of conditions that need to be met before they really spring into action.
We can’t stress how important it is to keep Prayer plants near a zero-draft window with indirect light only. Direct sunlight will burn those leaves to smithereens, rendering those beautiful lines and colours unrecognizable. They can tolerate lower light in the spring and summer months, but during the winter when they go dormant, it’s important to get them back into their comfy spot (indirect light) as this will help them continue growing in the slower months.
The right time to water Prayer plants is when the top layer of soil is dry. Prayer plants don’t usually bounce back if the entire pot goes dry – you might’ve hit the deep end at this point without a life vest. You’ll also want to caution that you do not overwater, nor get these leaves wet (use a small cloth to dry it up if you do). Just one more watchout – we promise – if the leaves turn yellow and drop off then you’re overwatering, so knock it off!
Okay, we lied, just one more watchout. Still or tap water? If using tap water, we recommend you leave the water out overnight so the minerals can settle. Ideally, you have access to distilled water which doesn’t contain the salts, chlorine, minerals, and fluoride that tap water has and Prayer plants don’t particularly like (the curling of leaves is an indicator).
Prayer plants love a warm and humid environment with gentle air flow. Bring it along with you to the bathroom when you’re taking a warm shower – it’s like giving it a nice, humid hug – just don’t shower WITH the plant. We recommend you pair Prayer plants with a humidifier as most homes won’t naturally be as humid as the Prayer plant would like. If that’s not an option, fill a tray with gravel and water and place your prayer plant on top – the pot it’s in should have a drainage hole. It’s like leaving a version of cookies and milk for Santa – except its water and gravel for your Prayer plant.
Prayer plants prefer temperatures between 16-27°C. Anything colder will cause its leaves to drop.
Yes! They’re non-toxic to cats and dogs. You win this round, Mittens.
Other fun facts:
- If you’re looking for a quick increase in clout and ‘likes’, simply capture a time lapse video of the Prayer plant opening and closing its leaves throughout the day. All that’s left is a witty and clever caption – “answering someone’s prayers” is probably taken.
- There’s a fun legend out there that says some of the brown leopard-pattern on one of the varietals of the Prayer plants was left by an angel kissing the plant when he flew down to earth; something-something-something, everyone who sees or grows these plants will have a happy life. Makes sense to us!
- Maranta Leuconeura is also sometimes called the Rabbit Tracks plant because of the chocolate brown markings on the leaves of this varietal – sorry, Prayer plant – sometimes you need to share the spotlight.
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