Appearance: The most distinguishing features of this plant are its leaves. The leaves are strikingly variegated with patterns of green and deep red-purple. The leaves fold together like hands during the night and open again in the morning light, hence the common name "prayer plant".
Light: Maranta leuconeura prefers bright, indirect light, but can tolerate lower light conditions. It's recommended to protect the plant from direct sunlight as it can cause the leaves to fade and lose their vibrant coloration.
Water: This plant prefers to be kept moist but not waterlogged. A good rule of thumb is to let the top inch of soil dry out between waterings. It is sensitive to overwatering which can lead to root rot. The prayer plant also enjoys high humidity, which can be achieved by misting the plant, using a pebble tray with water, or placing it in a naturally humid room like a bathroom.
Soil: Maranta leuconeura prefers well-draining soil. A mixture of potting soil with some perlite or orchid bark can work well.
Temperature: It likes warm temperatures typically between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15-27 degrees Celsius). It doesn't tolerate cold drafts or temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12 degrees Celsius) very well.
Propagation: Propagation can be done through division at repotting time or by stem cuttings. If you're propagating through stem cuttings, cut just below a leaf node and place the cutting in water or directly into soil.
Pests and Problems: Common problems with prayer plants are usually related to incorrect care—brown leaf tips, usually a result of dry air or a lack of water, or yellow leaves, a potential sign of overwatering. The prayer plant can also be sensitive to hard tap water. If possible, use rainwater or distilled water for watering. It can occasionally suffer from pests like aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs.
Overall, Maranta leuconeura is a beautiful and somewhat finicky houseplant that requires specific, but not necessarily difficult, care to thrive. It can be a wonderful addition to any indoor plant collection.