This month's plant in focus is the strikingly beautiful Maranta leuconeura (Red Stripe) with it's velvety green foliage with contrasting hot pink/red veining this beautiful house plant is a foliage lovers dream addition to your indoor plant collection.
Like its cousin, Calathea, Maranta and are also colloquially called 'Prayer plant' due to its charming habit of closing its leaves at night.
As a close relative of the Calathea genus, Maranta is very similar in its care requirements.
They will generally prefer a shadier spot in your home to mimic their natural habitat. As long as they're not getting hot direct sunlight for long periods the maranta will be quite happy hanging in a window. Any fading of their beautiful foliage or brown crisp spots are a sure sign you've given it too much bright or direct sunlight. Move further into the room to avoid losing your plant to scorch.
As tropical plants, Maranta like Calathea will prefer higher humidity if you can provide it but personally, I have found them to be perfectly happy in standard rooms without using a humidifier in summer. However, in saying that - if you use a reverse cycle or refrigerated air conditioner in summer you may need to move your Maranta around until it finds its happy place which ideally would be on the warmer side, with dappled light and with added humidity.
Winter is a time for rest for most plants and while Maranta may appreciate a little more light to help it along with its photosynthesis production. It is not unusual to see little to no new growth during this dormancy period. Simply reduce watering and fertiliser. Ideally, if you can maintain an indoor temperature between 16 - 20 degrees in the colder months your Maranta will be content. Any colder and you may see yellowing leaves and/or leaf drop. Move you plant to a warmer position.
During the winter months you will most likely need to mist your Maranta (and other Prayer plants) regularly to counteract the drier air conditions in homes at this time of year or assist with their humidity needs by using a pebble tray. Curling leaves are a sure sign they need more humidity. Keeping them close to other plants can also be a greatly assist here as together they create a microclimate and regulate humidity levels.
Watering should only occur when the top soil feels quite dry as Maranta do not like wet feet but do require a constant level moist. To avoid fungal rot gently shake off an excess water from the leaves after watering. While Maranta a highly susceptible to damage due to drying out, you will need to be vigilant and should only water once the soil has been allowed to dry out a little between watering.
Maranta will appreciate regular fertilising during its growing period in spring and summer (every 2 weeks ideally) reduce the frequency to only once a month in winter.
Maranta are sometimes prone to pests like mealybugs and spider-mites during the colder months when the air is usually drier. Look for white fluffy balls (mealybugs) and red spots on under sides of leaves (spider-mites) treat with Neem Oil solution (we love this!) or surgical alcohol on a cotton tip.
The Maranta is non-toxic to pets but as always we advise you to discourage your pets from nibbling.