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“Prayer Plant (Rabbits Tracks)” - Maranta Leuconeura var. kerchoveana

This is a neat plant to have, it has very limited needs and with the right, simple and achievable
conditions it will thrive. The species name, Prayer plant comes from the oval leaves moving to face up at night like praying hands. These plants are super easy to propagate and fun to share with fellow plant friends. Simply remove a small stem and at least one leaf beneath the node; the node is where new roots will grow out of. You want to have a leaf so the baby plant can get sunlight to help the plant to mature and form roots.

Orval


Orval, my first Prayer Plant came to me last year while on a trip to California, while visiting my Aunt Nicky, she gave me a small clipping from a plant she got from my great grandmother. The mother plant was thriving outside in a half shaded and half sunny location. The plant travelled in a zip loc bag with wet paper towels through TSA and under my seat stored in my backpack.

After living in a small shot glass by a window for a few months while the roots developed the Prayer Plant was ready to go into a small ceramic pot. To quicken things up I added a little bit of root growth powered to the water. Since then, Orval has moved up 2 pot sizes and is doing great on a dresser near an east facing window that only gets early morning sun and filtered light.


Orval is thriving on my bed side table about 5 feet away from an east facing window. I keep the curtains open all day so the plant receives plenty of sunlight. The leaves move up into a standing position at night. Sometimes if I'm near the plant in the evening I can hear the leaves move into the standing position. Its an occasional rustling sounds that I blamed my dog for months before I realized what it was. The plant enjoys a light misting daily, I try to mist it at least 2x a week to provide a moist environment similar to where is naturally found.



Natural environment

Maranta plants are native to the Tropical forests in Central and South America where they spread and grow all over the forest floor, looking for warm, moist, and humid conditions. The plants like to spread over the forest floor instead of climb. The variety ‘Rabbit Tracks’ are natively grown in the Tropical Brazilian forests. A hanging pot or open space is best for these plants since they have the tendency to travel/ spread. This plant does not climb, I would not recommend a moss pole or propping the plant up to climb.

These plants can handle some extreme heat as long as it has the humidity levels to match. The hottest it gets in Brazil is 95 to 99 Fahrenheit (35/37 Celsius) and the lowest temperature is around 75 to 79 Fahrenheit (25/26 Celsius). The Average temperature that these plants tend to live in is around 68 to 77 Fahrenheit (20/25 Celsius) in the jungle’s biome. Living at the bottom floor of the tropical forests doesn’t give these plants constant sunlight like other plants. On average the tropical forest floors of Brazil receive around 2% to 3% sunlight. These plants have adapted to the canopy floor, so they enjoy the humidity of misting them every so often. Another great way to mimic a forests floor is by placing plants near each other to create a humid environment.




Care for plant


Light

Indirect light

Prayer plants prefer to receive indirect sunlight that is filtered by a window or a large plant if outdoors. These plants thrive in shady and warm locations that get the occasional light and won’t survive if they are not covered by something protecting them from direct sunlight or if too close to a grow light. The sun is far away from the canopy floor so it’s best to mimic that light.

Watering

Moist but not water logged

This plant likes their soil moist but not sopping wet. It’s best to water when the top of the soil becomes dry. Underwatering and letting the plant dry out completely will cause the plant to wilt, leaves with dry out and curl. If the leaves tips are turning yellow and fall off the plant is being overwatered which can lead to root rot. This plant is recommended to water every 1 to 2 weeks, that way the soil can dry out halfway between waterings. Filtered water is best for these plants, or even leaving water out for a minimum of 6 to 8 hours before watering.

Soil and Fertilization.

Potting soil and perilite

The right soil is one of the most important things you can give a plant. These plants can thrive in regular potting soil if it has a well-draining and airy property like peat moss or perlite. The pot needs to have drainage holes to keep water from collecting at the bottom causing root rot. If the pot doesn’t have drainage pots. A layer of rocks can be placed at the bottom of the pot to keep the soil from holding water. Watering a plant in a hole-less pot is tricky. Water in smaller amounts and check the soils moisture by sticking a finger as far down as it can in the side of the pot to feel how wet the soil is. A good trick is to see what sticks to your finger to see where the soil starts to dry. A moisture meter is also a great way to check soil moisture level.

Environment

Tropical Forest floor

Because these plants prefer to spread across the forest floor, they work well in hanging pots or pots placed in a spot where these plants can spread out. The forest floor is humid with low levels of light, so being by a window that doesn’t receive direct light or minimal hours of direct light is best. Being placed by other plants or by a humidifier can help create a humid environment for this plant. A trick I have heard of and use on other plants is a pebble tray filled with just enough water that it doesn’t go above the rocks.


Different Variety

I currently have another variety of Prayer plant that I'm just getting starting in a tiny pot. It used to be in a small jar with water but moved to a pot since the roots got big enough to support the plant. This one is called Herringbone plant, var. erythroneura. This variety is very similar to its sister and has dark green oval shaped leaves with red veins coming from the main vein called the midrib.















The plant above on the left is a small clipping of a Herringbone plant that started out in a little jar of water. The roots had grown strong enough to put the plant in a small pot.

The photo on the right is a great example of the difference between the two varieties. The Herringbone has a light colored streak in the middle with red veins traveling from the middle to outside of the leaves. The Rabbit Tracks has dark green dots that line either side of the midrib vein of the leaves.
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