Guest Author - Lisa Beth Voldeck
Maranta leuconeura erythroneura is quite a mouthful, which is why this plant is much more often referred to simply as Maranta, Prayer Plant, or Red-veined Prayer Plant. The name Prayer Plant refers to the neat trick this plant does nightly. Prayer plant folds its leaves neatly in half every night and opens them again in the morning.
Prayer Plant does best if it receives bright sun throughout the day, but be cautious of too much direct midday sun. Eastern and western windows are best or place your plant in a southern window with a sheer curtain to cut the light. If the plant isnít receiving enough sun it will get spindly.
Watering can be somewhat of a challenge; too much or too little and you will quickly see an unhappy plant. Never let your Prayer Plant dry all the way out and never let it sit in water. It will take care and attention to find out exactly how frequently your plant needs water and how much water to give. It all depends on the growing environment you provide. Also, when watering, use tepid water. This plant hates to get cold feet!
Fertilization is not incredibly important with Prayer Plant. A standard houseplant-type fertilizer is good and should only be applied once a month. Donít fertilize Prayer Plant during the winter months.
Humidity is also an important factor for this plant. Placing the plant on a humidity tray is a great idea, but be sure that the plant doesnít wick water up from the reservoir. Some people mist their prayer plants, and keeping plants in groups will help keep the humidity around the individual plants up. Brown leaf tips are often a symptom of low humidity.
Prayer Plant has a few pest issues that you should keep an eye out for. Spider mites and mealy bugs enjoy this plant so look for stippling of the leaves and webbing which would indicate spider mites or for small white cottony masses which are mealy bugs. Low humidity and over- or under-watered plants invite attacks by plant predators so expect problems to come in multiples.
Propagation of Prayer Plant is done primarily by division of the root-ball. It is possible to take cuttings but that method is less reliable than division for this plant; the leaves tend to all fall off the cutting before roots develop. To increase the odds of success, maintain high humidity around rooting cuttings with plastic wrap or a plastic seedling-starter lid.