Maranta leuconeura or prayer plant: Cultivation and care

The Maranta tricolor or Maranta leuconeura is another of the most famous indoor plants for its special foliar structure. The leaves are true works of art. Pure design. It has certain points in its care that we are going to discuss but the appeal is indisputable.


The name of the genus Maranta comes (as in many cases) from the botanist who described it. In this case it was a doctor and botanist from 16th century Italy named Bartolomeo Maranta.

There are not many species in the genus Maranta . There are 42 specifically accepted. There are several dozen other names but they are synonymous with these 42. They are native to the tropical forests of the vast Brazilian territory . Therefore, being of tropical origin, in Spain they are grown almost exclusively indoors except in areas of the south, the Mediterranean and the Canaries free of frost and even free of low temperatures without the need to reach frost. Its rusticity at low temperatures is zero. Below 10ºC it will surely die.

Distribution of Maranta tricolor. Extracted from


  • We value the blade design first . They also have a very velvety touch.
  • It is not too fast growing. If fertilized properly, the speed can be greatly increased.
  • It is short. I don’t know much about its pot and initial setup.
  • Can be used as a hanging plant


Well, it is curious because it has to do with the behavior of the leaves at night and during the day. During the day he exposes the leaves, lowers them and at night he raises them and folds them as if they were two palms of the hand praying. It is curious because at night it seems more upright than during the day, at which time it has a more hanging appearance. This is done to maintain humidity conditions. Here’s a sample:

The fact is that when the leaves go down they could remember someone in prayer? It looks a lot more like the Praying Mantis to me when the leaves go down. They look like its front legs.


  • Maranta leuconeura var. erythrophylla : It is the most famous, the tricolor, the one with the red nerves . In fact, Erytrhrophylla literally means red-leaved. There are species from other kingdoms that also use this nomenclature, for example the Boletus erythropus (red foot) for having the foot of this color.
  • Maranta leuconeura var. masangeana : Instead of green and red, this variety stands out for its silver areas in the area surrounding the nerves, which in this case are white .
  • Maranta leuconeura var. kerchoveana : Very confused with Calathea because of their resemblance. The leaves have different shades of green but there is neither red nor silver in the characteristic veins of the previous two.


They are really very similar but botanically they have traits that make it necessary to separate them into two different genera. One of the differences that makes them different is the fruit. In the Maranta it has 3 seeds and in the Calathea it has 1. Still they share a family . The Calatheas and Marantas are family of Marantaceae and both come from Brazil.

Read more >> Calathea cultivation


They grow slow, yes, but they grow and they will grow more the more optimal the conditions. Is primarily humidity , fertilization and temperature constant and warm. Many times indoors it is not easy to maintain humidity, but it has to be tried. Go for it:


As a tropical plant it needs temperatures between 18 and 25ºC approximately. Closer to 25 than 18. Household temperatures approaching 21ºC is ideal. Dropping below 10-15ºC can cause cold damage to the leaves and they eventually fall off.

Being of a tropical climate, they normally have the light very filtered by the dense and dense trees of these areas. For this reason the tricolor Maranta should never be exposed to direct light. This will cause burns and the intensity of the color decreases. It remains a washed out color. In fact, it is tolerant in areas of semi-shade and even shade although it will hardly grow. If it is seen that it withers a lot, it will have to be taken out of the dark.


It requires an acid pH typical of tropical soils. Between 5.5 and 6.5 at most. The ideal is close to 6. We do need a well- nourished and drained soil . To get we can do the following mix:

  • Stones or gravel at the bottom of the pot to ensure the exit of water through the hole in the bottom and avoid puddles.
  • 2/4 peat (provides a lot of organic matter)
  • 1/2 of sand with perlite (improves drainage).
  • 1/2 of general substrate or even something more caking or clayey.

Fertilization may be necessary if the plant is to grow faster. It is not recommended if the substrate is new. Wait a minimum year to start fertilizing. You can use a liquid fertilizer for indoor green plants dissolved in the irrigation water. We generally recommend reducing the doses to avoid burns from excess fertilizer. It should be applied during the spring and summer with a fortnightly frequency.


More than irrigation, environmental humidity is important There are not many ways to increase the humidity of a home in a dry climate. Two main options: plate with expanded clay balls and water in the base or a humidifier that increases the relative humidity of the rooms. The leaves can be pulverized as long as we use a soft guide (without lime). In any case, the sprays can become complicated if we go through the proliferation of fungi.

On the other hand, it will be one of the few plants in which drought throws it away right away. On the other hand, excessive watering causes fungal diseases. Finding the exact point so that the Maranta does not die due to excess or defect is usually not an easy task.

The frequency of irrigation will vary according to the season, but we can use the trick of waiting for the surface part of the substrate to dry . If the leaves turn yellow, we are doing something wrong.

Roots of Maranta leuconeura. Photo by: blumenbiene


It can be done by division of the plant and by cutting in spring and autumn.

If it is by cutting, cut a stem and below the petiole of a leaf and immerse in water. It is good to use rooting hormones to promote the emission of roots. The water should be changed every two or three days. When it has roots, it will be time to transplant it and ensure humidity and temperature conditions

By division is done simply by carefully separating the plant and roots . The roots may have small tubers. In each division there must be several stems and numerous roots to ensure its roots.

The division puts stress on the plant to deal with. The conditions for it to take root are to maintain ambient humidity and temperatures somewhat higher than normal. They can be put in a seedbed, or type seedbed for germination.


In indoor plants pests are not very frequent, but it is sensitive to cottony scale aphids and spider mites . The latter can occur in summer if the environment is very hot and dry. The aphid attacks the tender shoots like any other plant. On the other hand, high humidity or excessive watering can lead to Botrytis rot or gray rot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *