Common Name: Prayer Plant, Ten Commandments
Latin Name: Maranta leuconeura
Plant Type: Perennial
Temperature: 60 – 85*F
Color: Green, light green, shades of red
Insects and Diseases: Mealy bugs, spider mites, aphids
The Prayer Plant has wide oval shaped leaves are dark green with a white or light green running down the spine of the leaf. The veins that run up the leaves can be several shades of red. The underside of these beautiful leaves is red.
The Prayer Plant gets it’s name for it’s unique habit of raising their leaves to an upright position at night time. The leaves fold together like hands during prayer!
Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves of the Prayer Plant and can quickly kill the plant. The plant prefers bright indirect sunlight, but is generally tolerant of lower light areas.
This plant doesn’t like to get dried out between waterings. Keep the soil evenly moist all the time, but never let the soil be soggy. The water should be a little warm or at least room temperature. Reduce watering during the winter months.
A good quality general purpose soil can be used as long as it drains well. Add some Perlite or sand and a little peat is the soil doesn’t have good drainage.
To mix your own soil use 1 part Perlite or coarse sand, 1 part garden soil and 1 part peat or humus dusted with just a little bit of lime. Rocks can be used to help with drainage and you should use a pot that has a hole in the bottom.
Prayer plants should be fed during their growing season which is from spring through fall. Feed them every two weeks with a high quality water soluble plant food.
Propagation can be done by plant division or cuttings. The plant can be divided early in the spring at the time repotting should be done. Stem cutting can be done from spring to early in the summer.Stem cuttings should be taken from just below the plants nodes that are closest to the bottom of the stems.
Place cuttings in Perlite and moist peat, the pot can be placed in a plastic bag or covered with plastic to retain moisture. Cut a few holes in the plastic for air circulation and place in a sunny location.
Pieces of the Mantra that have broken off of the plant can also be rooted, as long as there is some of the stem left. Dip the end in some rooting hormone and keep the piece in distilled water. Make sure to change the water daily and plant it in soil after the roots are at least an inch long.
If the tips of the leaves are turning brown or curling up, the plant is getting too much light. Another cause for brown tips can also be the chlorine found in tap water. Use filtered water or let water sit for 24 hours before watering the plant.
A daily misting can help provide the plant with the humidity it needs that may not be present in your home. You can also set a container of water near the plant, the evaporating water will give the plant some added humidity.
Written by Connie Corder for HouseplantsForYou.com, Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved