My Prayer for 2021
Yep, we're all thrilled to see 2020 done, done and done. As we're looking hopefully into 2021, my prayer for all in this new year is to live in kindness, compassion, love, health and prosperity.
For us plant parents, here's my pick of new year babies to meditate on - the prayer plant, or maranta leuconeura.
This decorative house plant, with its striking variegated leaves, is a visually interesting plant with a unique characteristic. The leaves fold together at night, like a pair of praying hands. In the morning, they open flat again, revealing their beautiful color and pattern.
The prayer plant is easy to grow if you just listen to what it's telling you, so here are the basic needs in plant speak:
"If it is too cold, too dry, or I am in an area with too much air flow, my leaves will curl like a pirouette cookie.
If there is too much direct light, my leaves will fade.
If there is not enough light, my leaves won't fully open in the morning. Low light will encourage leggy growth.
If there is too much water, my leaves will droop and turn yellow."
For the most part, that's pretty easy language to follow. Of course, always be on the lookout for pests and diseases. Basically, a healthy plant is the best defense against these enemies.
My prayer plant is very happy in a west facing window along with its African violet friends. All three plants like to drink by absorbing water from the bottom. I'm not a big fan of misting plants for humidity because misting encourages diseases and misting does not provide consistent humidity. The little community of plants clustered together seems to provide enough humidity to keep themselves happy. Also, a home humidifier doesn't hurt, either.
I like to keep an uncovered watering can filled with water handy. The water is at room temperature and the chlorine will have evaporated, which is best for your plants.
Here are the facts.
Native to the warm, moist, swampy tropical forests of Central and South America. Maranta leuconeura is a low growing evergreen perennial, which spreads by rhizomes and usually grows up to about 12" tall. A wide and low container with good drainage is a best choice for their shallow root system.
Leaves are wide and oval with beautiful variegation, the cultivated ornamental varieties can have a grayish green or purplish underside with red or green venations and vibrant leaf patterns. This plant is non-poisonous.
Flowers have small spikes and are white to pale purple in color. The plant rarely blooms indoors, but if your conditions are perfect, you might be lucky enough to see flowers!
The prayer plant thrives best in bright, indirect sun. Avoid putting it in direct sun, as it will burn the foliage.
Water and Humidity
Water your plant on a regular schedule when the top 1" or so of soil is dry. Keep it moist, but not soggy when the plant is growing actively in the spring and summer. In fall through late winter reduce the water so it can be kept a little drier.
The prayer plant does like humidity, so you might consider placing your plant on top of pebbles and water in a shallow pan. Do not let the container sit in water. Just let the plant sit on top of the pebbles, above the water.
Spring through fall fertilize with an all purpose fertilizer once each week.
Ideal temperature is between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or 15 to 27 degrees Celsius.
Prune off a stem right below a leaf node closest to the bottom of the stem with sterilized clippers or scissors. This will encourage bushier growth. Place the cuttings in a rooting hormone and make a hole in soil with a straw or pencil. Place the cutting into the hole, careful not to loosen the rooting hormone. Gently tamp the soil around the cutting. Water gently for the first drink.
The prayer plant can also be propagated by dividing the plant and repotting. This is usually done in early spring. Divide the plant in half, gently separating the rhizomes and repot in fresh soil.
This is a great little houseplant that is fun to grow. As an added benefit, the prayer plant helps scrub the air in your home of indoor pollutants. We could all use a little prayer!
Keep on blooming!
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