Maranta leuconeura is a real eye-catcher. The green leaves with red veins look absolutely spectacular and make this Maranta stand out a lot.
But there’s definitely more to this beautiful houseplant than just that. For instance, Maranta Leuconeura sports leaves that are susceptible to night and day.
What does that mean?
Well, it means that our leafy friend raises its leaves in the morning and then folds them at night.
This is also why Maranta Leuconeura also goes by the mysterious name of “Prayer plant.”
Now, without further ado, let us have a look at the ideal plant care for this wonderful evergreen perennial plant.
Maranta leuconeura (Prayer plant) Plant Care Basics
The Prayer plant does not place high demands on the soil. While some plants have very specific soil needs, such as cacti, for instance, your Prayer plant will feel at home in any good potting soil.
One potting soil mix that you could check out is Miracle Gro Potting Mix. It is pretty popular among houseplant enthusiasts all over the world and often yields very good results. Aim for a soil pH value of 5.5 to 6. You can use a soil meter for that purpose. Soil meters can be purchased on Amazon.
These meters are usually also capable of measuring the moisture level and also include a sunlight meter. They are cheap and very useful. Especially if you are a beginner, buying such a meter will come in very handy.
Alternatively, the Prayer plant can also be well cultivated in hydroponics. Cultivation in hydroponics has the advantage that optimal water storage can be achieved much more easily.
Maranta leuconeura does not need that much sunlight. Aim for moderate, indirect light. In winter, it is generally a good idea to move your Prayer plant to a sunnier spot.
The Prayer plant does also well under growing lights.
Generally speaking, growing lights are ideal for houseplants that have low to medium light requirements such as the Prayer plant, Pothos, Dieffenbachia, Snake plant, ZZ plant, Philodendron, Peace Lily and Dracaena.
Your goal should be to keep the soil slightly moist at all times. Waterlogging should be avoided, therefore let the soil dry out between waterings. Watering your plant about once a week during growing season should do the trick.
In winter, your Maranta will need less water.
What kind of water should you use?
Not only the amount of water is decisive for watering, but also the type of water.
With Maranta leuconeura, you should definitely avoid giving limy water because it does not tolerate this at all. It is, therefore, best to either use soft water, distilled water or rainwater.
As is true with many other houseplants, Maranta leuconeura thrives pretty well at room temperature and can tolerate anything from 18 degrees up to 27 degrees (65―80°F).
As is true with many other houseplants, Prayer plants do not respond well to sudden changes in temperature. In fact, this could even be fatal for your plant.
Prayer plants like it humid. So keep the humidity high. To ensure decent humidity levels, you might want to move your Prayer plant in the bathroom. Just as Aloe Vera, Chinese Evergreen, & Peacy Lilies, Prayer plants do well in a bathroom environment.
However, there are obviously other ways to meet the humidity needs of your Prayer plant. One way to keep your plant happy in this regard is to regularly mist it.
Another way to raise the overall humidity is by keeping the plant on a bed of damp pebbles.
Also, you could bless your Prayer plant with some plant neighbors, as having other plants around it, will also help in increasing the overall humidity.
As far as fertilizer goes, Prayer plant has no special requirements. Feeding your plant twice a week with half-diluted liquid fertilizer during growing season (spring and summer) is more than sufficient.
In colder months, feeding your Prayer plant once a month produces the best results. As far as the choice of fertilizer goes, a balanced houseplant fertilizer will do the trick.
Maranta leuconeura is best propagated through stem cuttings. However, it can also be propagated by division at the time of repotting. Repotting is best done in spring.
Maranta leuconeura is a low-growing plant with a horizontal growth habit. They grow up to 12 inch (30 cm) tall and 18 inches wide (45 cm). Its oval leaves are between 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) long.
While many houseplants only need to be repotted when they outgrow their pot, Maranta leuconeura benefits from annual repotting. The main reason for this is that your green companion will again be blessed with fresh, well-aerated soil that way.
There is not much to consider when repotting your Player plant. Flat containers are well suited, as Prayer plants are shallow-rooted plants. Repotting is best done in spring.
If you have grown your plants in hydroponics, repotting is not necessary, as long as they are in sufficiently large containers.
Propagation of Maranta leuconeura
Prayer plants are best propagated by stem cuttings.
Here are some easy steps to follow along to make sure the propagation of your green companion will be successful:
Step 1: Search your Prayer plant for healthy stems.
Step 2: Use a sharp, sterile knife to proceed with the cuttings.
Step 3: The cuttings need to be done directly below the leaf node.
Step 4: Dip the freshly made cutting in a rooting hormone.
Step 5: Then put the cuttings in a glass of water. Make sure to use soft water for that purpose.
Step 6: Change the water regularly. Once every two days or even once a day will yield the best results.
Step 7: As soon as the first roots show and new leaves can be seen at the top, you can put the cutting in soil.
Pruning your Prayer plant
Pruning is not absolutely necessary for the well-being of your Prayer plant, however, it helps encouraging more vigorous growth. Trimming obviously also helps in ensuring that your Prayer plant stays bushy and shapely.
Prayer Plant SOS
Problem: Pale leaves
Cause: Pale leaves are usually a sign of too much sunlight. If you will spot faint webbing on the undersides of the leaves, you might also be dealing with Spider mites. These creatures are really small, so you might need a magnifying glass to even see them.
Remedy: Keep your plant out of direct sunlight. Prayer plants like bright indirect sunlight. If Spider mites are the cause, the first thing you want to do is to isolate your plant. After that, get rid of badly infected parts of your plant.
To save the rest of your plant, you need to clean it properly. Use water and a little bit of soap for that purpose (together with a cloth). After that, you will have several options to go to war with Spider mites. One proven way to get rid of Spider mites is to use an insecticide. Also, keep the humidity high by misting your plant regularly (even on a daily basis).
Problem: Curly leaves and brown spots
Cause: Either too dry or too cold. If some of the leaves of your Maranta leuconeura are only slightly curled, this could also be an indicator of too much light.
Remedy: If the soil is too dry, you will need to make sure to give your plant some more water. If too cold, you might need to move your Prayer plant to a new location.
Cause: There are a few possible causes for a mealybug infestation of your Prayer plant. It might be that you have contaminated soil or maybe you recently bought an already infested plant. Unfortunately, that happens pretty often. So when buying any houseplant, you should always inspect the plant carefully and check for possible infestations.
Remedy: Mealybugs are sneaky little creatures, indeed. But it could be worse. Spider mites, for instance, are certainly a worse plague for your plants than Mealybugs and there is still hope for your plant. So how do you get rid of these white, little creatures? First of all, you should quarantine your plant to prevent this plague from spreading to other plants. After that, wipe off the mealybugs with a damp cloth or cotton bud soaked in alcohol (insecticide). However, it is not quite that easy to get rid of Mealybugs. If all this doesn’t work, you may have to throw the plant away. Good luck!
5 Tips to keep your Maranta leuconeura happy
- Keep the humidity high. Mist your Prayer plant regularly.
- Keep out of direct sunlight.
- Prune your Prayer plant from time to time to encourage more vigorous growth.
- Use flat containers for your Prayer plant, as you are dealing with a shallow-rooted plant
- Use water low in lime (soft water) when watering your Prayer plant. Both distilled water or collecting rainwater is also fine for your Maranta leuconeura. Too much lime in the water can cause brown spots on the leaves.
Is Maranta leuconeura easy to care for?
Maranta leuconeura is relatively easy to care for and is very suitable for cultivation indoors. As far as the propagation of the plant is concerned, this can also be done relatively easily by propagating the plant using stem cuttings.
Since the Prayer plant is a tropical plant, it is important that you keep the humidity high to ensure that the plant can thrive to its full potential. The general rule for houseplants is always that the natural environment of the plant should be simulated as well as possible.
So if a plant is exposed to high humidity in its natural environment, you should try to create a similar environment for the plant at home.
If you have only recently turned to the hobby of houseplants and would like to raise plants that are very easy to cultivate, then we can recommend the following plants, among others: Spider plants, Peace Lilies, Snake plants, Pothos.
Beginners very often tend to supply their plants with too much water. One plant that is very resistant to overwatering is the Chinese Evergreen. So if you like to give lots of water, this plant might be just right for you.
Maranta leuconeura FAQ
Why is Maranta leuconeura called Prayer plant?
It is called that way because it sports leaves that are susceptible to night and day, meaning that its leaves will raise in the morning and then at night it will fold its leave as a response to darkness. What a spectacle!
What about the longevity of Prayer plants?
If your Prayer plant receives proper care, you can keep it for many years.
When should I report my Prayer plant?
Repotting your Prayer plant will only be necessary once it outgrows its pot. So, when the plant becomes too large, then you can go on and repot it. Other than that, only repot your plant when propagating, which is best done in spring.
Can I grow Maranta leuconeura under fluorescent light?
Absolutely. The Prayer plant thrives well under fluorescent light.
My Prayer plant’s leaves are very pale. What’s wrong?
Pale leaves on Prayer plants are usually a sign of too much sunlight. Please keep in mind that these plants thrive best in moderate light. We are obviously talking about indirect sunlight here.
Is the Prayer plant prone to plant pest infestation?
Scale bugs, spider mites and mealybugs are pretty common guests on Prayer plants.
Does the Prayer plant flower when kept as a houseplant?
In fact, Prayer plants, as is the case with many other plants, do rarely flower when kept as a houseplant. If kept in a conservatory, they do indeed flower.
Is Maranta leuconeura toxic to cats?
Prayer plants are non-toxic to cats according to the ASPCA, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. If you are interested in knowing more about other houseplants that are cat-safe, please have a look at our article: 18 Cat-Safe Houseplants your Kitties will Surely Enjoy
Is Maranta leuconeura toxic to dogs?
As per the ASPCA, Prayer plants are dog-safe.
Any display tips for Prayer plants?
Prayer plants are low-growing tropical plants, so growing them in shallow containers makes a lot of sense. Maranta leuconeura also looks great in a hanging basket.
What are some of the most striking varieties of Maranta leuconeura?
There are so-called red Prayer plants, green Prayer plants and even silver Prayer plants. The most common variety of Prayer plant is probably the red Prayer plant Maranta leuconeura “Erythroneura”. Another popular variety is Maranta leuconeura “Kerchoveana.” This variety features green leaves with purple markings between the veins. Less common, but equally beautiful, is Maranta leuconeura “Massangeana”, which belongs to the “category” of silver Prayer plants.