Maranta

OFFICIAL NAME

Maranta leuconeura

ALSO KNOWN AS

Prayer Plant, Herringbone Plant

ORIGINS & CLIMATE

South America | Tropical

ABOUT THE
PLANT

The variegated green leaves with bright red veining and undersides make this prayer plant a standout. A variant known as 'Lemon Lime' trades the red for bright neon green! A low creeping plant, they really shine on a high shelf or hanging planter!

HOW MANY GREEN THUMBS?

moderate, bright indirect, drought averse, low light tolerant, mid-size, bushy or dense, cascading, clusters, shelf, hanging, pet friendly, prayer plant, tropical, patterns, variegation, color

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Maranta

The basics

Water Needs

This plant prefers to stay fairly moist, but certainly not soggy sopping wet. Check the soil frequently in summer to determine if it's starting to dry out. In winter, you can be a little more lax, allowing the top inch or so to dry out before watering again.

Water

Preferred Light

Your Maranta will thrive in medium to bright, indirect light. Try to keep away from rays of direct light as this will likely scorch the leaves and fade the pretty leaf patterns.

Light

Humidity Needs

Thrives in higher humidity—try to provide additional moisture by grouping your Maranta with other humidity lovers or placing in a humid spot, like the kitchen or bathroom. Of course, a humidifier will be your best bet for guaranteed humidity.

Humidity

Ambient Temperature

Adaptable to average indoor temperatures, but will not accept exposure to cold drafts or dry heat from vents. The leaves are likely to wilt dramatically and begin to yellow.

Temperature

Toxic or Not?

A non-toxic plant pal! You can introduce this plant to your whole family, pets and children included. While it'll be a sad day for you and your plant if someone takes a nibble, you don't have to worry about poisoning anyone!

Toxicity

Size Potential

Indoors, this low creeping plant will grow 3-4 ft long vines with a similar spread (when mature and with enough light)!

Size

Overall Look

Generally low clusters of relatively short, densely packed stems. Leaves stand upright at night and spread down and out during the day. Will eventually begin to creep outward in cascading vines. Works best in a hanging planter or on a high shelf.

Format

Leaf Look

Oval leaves in shades of green ranging from a deep dark green to a vibrant neon green with red undersides. Accented with bright red veining that resembles a herringbone pattern.

Leaf Shape

Did You Know?

Not only are Maranta showstoppers with their gorgeous leaves. They can move! Maranta are equipped with a special little joint where the stem meets the leaf, allowing them to raise their leaves at night (as if in prayer) and lower them during the day to capture the most light.

Fun Fact

Water

|

Keep soil just moist, but not soggy.

Water Needs

This plant prefers to stay fairly moist, but certainly not soggy sopping wet. Check the soil frequently in summer to determine if it's starting to dry out. In winter, you can be a little more lax, allowing the top inch or so to dry out before watering again.

Light

|

Medium to bright, indirect light.

Preferred Light

Your Maranta will thrive in medium to bright, indirect light. Try to keep away from rays of direct light as this will likely scorch the leaves and fade the pretty leaf patterns.

Humidity

|

Sensitive to low humidity—keep in a humid spot.

Humidity Needs

Thrives in higher humidity—try to provide additional moisture by grouping your Maranta with other humidity lovers or placing in a humid spot, like the kitchen or bathroom. Of course, a humidifier will be your best bet for guaranteed humidity.

Temperature

|

Can adapt, but doesn't like sudden change.

Ambient Temperature

Adaptable to average indoor temperatures, but will not accept exposure to cold drafts or dry heat from vents. The leaves are likely to wilt dramatically and begin to yellow.

Toxicity

|

Mildly toxic to humans and pets if ingested.

Toxic or Not?

A non-toxic plant pal! You can introduce this plant to your whole family, pets and children included. While it'll be a sad day for you and your plant if someone takes a nibble, you don't have to worry about poisoning anyone!

Size

|

An in-betweener. Not too big, not too small.

Size Potential

Indoors, this low creeping plant will grow 3-4 ft long vines with a similar spread (when mature and with enough light)!

Format

|

Low bushy clusters of densely packed stems.

Overall Look

Generally low clusters of relatively short, densely packed stems. Leaves stand upright at night and spread down and out during the day. Will eventually begin to creep outward in cascading vines. Works best in a hanging planter or on a high shelf.

Leaf Shape

|

Oval leaves in shades of green with a herringbone pattern.

Leaf Look

Oval leaves in shades of green ranging from a deep dark green to a vibrant neon green with red undersides. Accented with bright red veining that resembles a herringbone pattern.

Fun Fact

|

These leaves are on the move!

Did You Know?

Not only are Maranta showstoppers with their gorgeous leaves. They can move! Maranta are equipped with a special little joint where the stem meets the leaf, allowing them to raise their leaves at night (as if in prayer) and lower them during the day to capture the most light.

Beyond The Basics

Soil & Potting

Thrives in a rich, very well-draining potting mix—you can use a good quality potting mix labeled for indoor plants or make your own mix. You can try a 1:1:1:0.5 mix of potting mix, orchid bark, perlite, and activated charcoal. Ensure the pot has the appropriate drainage and don't forget to pour out any excess water collected in the drainage tray or cachepot.

Repotting

Try to repot every 2-3 years in the spring, especially when tending to a younger plant. Increase the pot size by about 2 inches each time or until you're satisfied with the size. It's still important to repot at this stage, but it'll be an exercise of refreshing the soil, keeping the pot size the same, and possibly doing some root trimming to restrict the plant's growth. More on repotting here.

Feeding

If you're not already planning to repot, you can fertilize during the spring and summer months. Once to every two months should be plenty. No fertilizer is necessary during the winter when plant growth naturally slows down. You can try a balanced liquid or water-soluble fertilizer—always diluted more than the recommended strength. More on using fertilizer here.

Grooming

Can be prone to legginess (or straggly, elongated growth). Regular pruning of the new growth (up to a third of the whole plant) will promote a fuller, bushier appearance. New leaves will emerge from the cut stem. Plus, you can use these stem cuttings to propagate! In addition, it's always good practice to regularly remove yellowed or dying leaves and any fallen plant debris. Ensure your scissors or pruners are sanitized to avoid spreading disease or pests. If you're dealing with browning leaf tips and have resolved the underlying issue (usually humidity or water type), you can carefully trim these tips back if the look bothers you.

Propagation

Since Maranta grow in dense clumps, you can always divide these into multiple plants when repotting. You'll simply pull apart the roots into your desired clumps. Or, if a bit rootbound, you may need to cut them apart. You can then pot each one up into their own appropriately sized vessel. If you'd like to propagate without dividing your plant, you can also try a stem cutting. You'll need to take an apical stem cutting (the top of the stem where there is new growth). Try to cut a decent section with 3-4 leaves and cut just below the lowest leaf. Remove the lower leaves to ensure a clear stem before rooting in water or another medium. Once the roots are a few inches long you can pot up your new Maranta!  More on propagation techniques here.

Variants

An exciting Maranta cultivar is 'Lemon Lime', which trades the typical red veining and undersides for a vibrant neon green.

TrOUBlESHOOTING

Why are the leaf patterns on my Maranta fading?

Symptom

Leaf variegation and pattern are fading away, giving your plant a washed out appearance.

Cause

This is usually a sign that your plant is getting too much light. In a worst case scenario, the leaves may begin to burn or bleach completely.

Solution

You may be pushing the limits on how much direct sun your plant can handle. Try moving it out of reach of those direct rays of sun or moving to a spot that receives only minimal direct sun in the mornings or evenings.

More on lighting here.
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Why are the leaf tips on my Maranta browning?

Symptom

Leaves turning brown just on the edges or tips. These edges may gradually change from yellow to brown, crispy, and possibly a bit curled.

Cause

Browning just on the edges of tips is usually a reaction to low humidity. Since many of our houseplants have tropical origins, they also thrive in humid conditions. Our average indoor humidity is usually adequate, but some plants are simply more sensitive to changes in humidity than others. You may notice this more acutely when conditions are particularly dry—like when you turn on the heater in winter.

Solution

Try to accommodate your plant's needs by locating them in more naturally humid places, like the bathroom or kitchen, or grouping a bunch of humidity-loving plants together. But the only way to truly guarantee increased humidity is to get a humidifier!

Once you've addressed the problem: If the brown tips bother you, you can trim them back. Do your best to follow the shape of the leaf to help them look natural. Also, try to cut just short of the discolored edge so it doesn’t expand.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why are the leaves on my Maranta wilting and yellowing?

Symptom

Multiple leaves are wilting and turning yellow—particularly the older, lower leaves. You may also notice stunted growth and mushy stems.

Cause

The most likely culprit is overwatering and initial signs of root rot. When a plant's roots sit in waterlogged soil for too long, a fungal infection can quickly take over, causing the roots to rot (turning brown and mushy).

Solution

First, ensure that your plant has appropriate drainage (both in terms of well-draining soil and plenty of drainage holes in the plant's container).

If you think you've caught the overwatering early on, you can simply let the plant dry out more than you have been. Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering again. Continue monitoring and only water when needed. You may also try using chopsticks (or something similar) to poke holes in the soil to help the roots get more oxygen. And finally, you can try to "wick" the excess moisture out of the soil by placing the whole pot (with drainage holes) in a tray or container with dry soil. This new layer of dry soil should soak up some of the excess moisture from the waterlogged areas around your plant's roots.

However, if you suspect a serious case of root rot, you'll definitely need to take a peak at the roots by removing the plant entirely from their container. If there are any black and mushy roots, trim them back completely before repotting with fresh soil in a new or sterilized container.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why are there tiny pinpricks on my Maranta?

Symptom

Pale areas across the leaf that look dusty or like tiny pinpricks on closer inspection.

Cause

Unfortunately, these are a tell-tale sign of spider mites. These wretched pests pierce the surface of your plant's leaves in order to suck out the nutrients—leaving behind pale areas and pinpricks. These pests seem to love the textured surface of the Maranta leaf since it produces anchors for them to easily build their webs and hide their eggs. Left unchecked, these buggers can decimate a plant.

Solution

Whenever you're dealing with pests, the first step is to isolate you plant away from all your other plants to avoid potential spread. Next, you can begin a regimen of neem oil, diluted with  water a bit of mild soap. You'll want to spray this solution liberally all over your plant, including leaf undersides. And repeat the treatment every few days to ensure you've eradicated the pest and any eggs.

Preventative measures include maintaining good air circulation and avoiding overly dry conditions. Spider mites in particular love warm, dry conditions.

More resources on pests.
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