Maranta leuconeura, known as the red-veined prayer plant, has a tropical houseplant feel when situated with the typical herbaceous or flowering houseplant. Large, flat oval-shaped leaves join with strong center stem-like hands. At night, the leaves fold toward the middle, resembling hands in prayer. The leaves are dark green with a light green mid-rib and a bright red center vein, breaking to smaller veins that also branch out across the leaf. This houseplant can grow to 1 foot across and 10 inches tall. Care for the red-veined prayer plant is not difficult.
Choose a pot that has a drainage hole. The size should contain the plant comfortably while allowing for early growth, as well as provide a proportional visual balance between the container and plant. If you choose a decorative pot with no drainage hole, fill the bottom of the pot with gravel and set the functional pot with a drainage hole on top of the gravel. Always place a tray under the exterior drainage hole to catch excess water, but do not let a plant sit in a dish or tray of water, as stagnation may occur.
Choose a potting soil for the red-veined prayer plant to ensure good drainage. Prepared soil mixes available at gardening centers are sterilized and will provide drainage and nutrients for your plant, as well as eliminating the diseases and insect eggs that could be present in garden soil. Clemson University Extension experts Debbie Shaughnessy and Al Pertuit provide a recipe for indoor plant soil that you can mix yourself: combine one part perlite, one part coarse sand, and two parts peat, and incorporate well.
Add a slow release, balanced fertilizer to the potting soil mix you created yourself. Combine well. Commercial potting mixes should include fertilizer to slowly feed the plant over time.
Fill the pot with soil, setting the red-veined prayer plant in at about 1 inch below the surface of the pot. Firm around the topsoil line. To improve moisture retention, spread mulch such as bark chips on the surface.
Set the red-veined prayer plant in a location that receives southern, eastern, or northern light at a medium level for most of the day. Place within several feet of the light source and out of harsh, direct sunlight. Also avoid placement near an air conditioning unit or heater, as these can be damaging to a plant.
Water when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Water thoroughly, allowing it to drain through the drainage hole to relieve the soil of excess salt. Discard water left in the tray. Conditions such as humidity, container materials, active growth and soil drainage speed may require watering adjustments.
Keep the temperature during the day between 70 and 80 degrees Farhenheit. Night time temps should not fall below 60 degrees.
Maintain humidity levels at 20 to 40 percent for best growing results. Yellow or brown tips or shriveled leaves may indicate humidity problems. To correct this, provide a shallow tray filled with pea gravel and a small amount of water under the plant. Grouping plants together is advisable. Provide a humidifier for very dry climates.
Begin regular fertilizer treatments about 2 months after potting the red-veined prayer plant. The slow release fertilizer added at potting time will carry the plant until then. Watch your red-veined prayer plant for growth cues and apply a diluted, balanced liquid plant fertilizer at regular intervals during the active growing season. Too much fertilizer may result in a white crust formation on the soil surface.