The first family of plants that I truly fell in love with is the prayer plants – maranta, ctenanthe, and calathea. Out of all of these, I’ve found the maranta to be the most forgiving with the easiest care. This prayer plant that I named Phoebe is one of maybe 7 prayer plants in my collection, but this one holds a special place in my heart because 1) it sits right on my stairwell where I can see it multiple times a day and 2) it is named after a friend of mine, Phoebe from Read & Wright.
Prayer plants got their name because the leaves raise and lower throughout the day based off the light level they are receiving – they fold up at night as though in prayer. Watch this cool time-lapse to see how they move!
Here’s the deets on this beautiful girl and how I care for her!
Latin name: Maranta leuconeura
Other names: prayer plant
Where to purchase this plant: marantas are a little harder to come by where I live in big box stores like Lowe’s or Wal Mart, but most nurseries will carry at least one variety. If you want to buy online from a great small business, I highly recommend California Tropicals. If you shop by clicking this link or enter the code JENNASTOPREADING at checkout, you get 10% off at their store. They have a this exact plant in a 4″ pot for $17.99 (free shipping!) and a 6″ for $18.99. They send beautiful, healthy plants for affordable prices!
Light level required: low to medium indirect light – this plant does not want direct sun, it will burn the leaves!
Water level required: Moderate water – the soil needs to be consistently moist but not sopping wet. I use a moisture meter every time I water (a very low dollar, high return investment for me!), and if it drops to a 6 or below, I will water.
Care level required: once I figured out the care of this plant, I considered them to be low maintenance. There are a few things to know about them that are super important though if you want your maranta to thrive (see “special care requirements” below).
Why I love this plant: I love that the leaves move throughout the day and also love the striking colors! The pink veining on this particular plant is just SO stunning, and I love that you can get maranta in many different colors.
Special care requirements: maranta like high humidity, so a humidifier, while not totally required, would be appreciated. It would also make a great bathroom plant if your bathroom has a window!
However, the two most important things I’ve learned about this plant are related to water/fertilizer. Distilled water is the absolute best option for these babies to prevent browning of the edges, and luckily, distilled water is not very expensive at all where I live (less than $1 a gallon). The second most important thing is to not use chemical based fertilizers. My maranta have loved this organic seaweed and kelp fertilizer. When I repot my plants, I also mix in some worm castings (it’s poop, not actual worms, and that particular link comes with gloves!) and the plants LIVE. FOR. IT. Also, don’t worry, it doesn’t make your plants smell icky, the worm castings have no odor at all.
Sister/cousin plants: ctenanthe and calathea all have similar care requirements, however, I find them to be a bit more finicky and difficult. If you want to try out the prayer plant family, I highly recommend starting with maranta.