The Red Maranta Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura var. erythroneura), also known as the Red Herringbone Plant, is a rare plant with broad, oval green leaves marked with raised, deep red veins arranged in a feather-like pattern.
The plant’s botanical name, Maranta, comes from Bartolomeo Maranta, a 16th century Italian botanist. Its colloquial name, Prayer Plant, comes from the movement of its leaves, which lay flat during the day (to absorb more sunlight) and become erect at night, giving the leaves the appearance of hands locked in prayer.
For some great videos, search on YouTube or use a time-lapse camera to capture for yourself the plant’s “dancing” and rustling noise in the morning as the leaves come down from prayer.
Red Maranta Prayer Plant Care
Native to the tropical rainforests of Brazil, these plants make great show plants and are among the easiest to care for among the Arrowroot (Marantaceae) family of plants.
In ideal conditions, the Red-veined Maranta plant can grow up to 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) tall, spreading up to 16 inches (40cm) across the floor or below the rainforest canopy.
Not too needy when it comes to light, these plants make great indoor statement pieces and are perfect for the beginner gardener.
Plant in a well-draining and chunky soil mixture with minerals such as perlite or pumice for drainage. A peat-rich potting mix also works well.
Allow the soil to dry out 1-3 inches down between waterings. Once every 1-2 weeks in summer or once a month in winter.
The Red Prayer Plant grows best pulled back from all window light. Medium, indirect sunlight is ideal.
Humidity & Temperature
The Red Prayer Plant prefers humid locations similar to their native tropical rainforest habitats (50%+ humidity). Higher humidities will encourage greater growth.
Normal room temperature is suitable. Avoid cold drafts, cold windows, and temperatures below 60°F (15°C).
Use standard liquid fertilizer once every two weeks during spring, summer, and autumn for optimal growth. In the winter, fertilize once every month. Brown leaves are signs of over fertilization.
These plants grow in clumps, so they can be propagated by dividing the plant into two halves and then placing each half into separate pots.
Water propagation via cuttings is also common. To do so, cut the stem below the node (bump where leaves form) and place it in a glass of distilled water near sunlight, changing the water daily, until 1-2 inches of root emerges. Transplant the new plant to new potting soil.
Diseases & Pests
The high humidity these plants require may also attract fungus, which may cause leaves to wilt and turn yellow. Avoid waterlogged soil, let water drain well, and use a fungicide if you spot powdery white splotches or black spots.
The red veins on the leaves may mislead you into thinking they are poisonous, but Red Prayer plants are non-toxic to both pets and humans.
Red Maranta Prayer Plant meaning
Because of their leaf movements resembling hands raised in prayer, these plants can mean thankfulness, gratitude, or optimism. 1-800 Flowers selected them as plant of the year in 2021 to reflect the optimism and joy ahead as the world emerges from a pandemic.
Red Prayer Plant flower
The Red Prayer Plant’s flowers aren’t as showy as their foliage. Tiny white flowers with purple spots may bloom in the summer, often in pairs.
Although flowering means happy plants, they redirect energy away from leaf production. If you prefer foliage over the insignificant flowers, pinch back any new flower spikes as they appear.
Red Maranta Prayer Plant leaves turning yellow?
Overwatering may cause these plants to appear sickly with yellow splotches. If the soil is still moist, avoid watering. Extreme cold or hot temperatures, and lack of humidity will also cause injury to leaves, causing them to brown or turn yellow at the edges.
In rare cases, a nutritional deficiency in iron (caused by acidic soil) will result in yellowing leaves and slower growth. It will often affect younger leaves first. A plant iron supplement should aid recovery.
Frequently Asked Questions
Marantas can symbolize gratitude as their leaves curl up at night in prayer before unfurling during the daytime. This is the houseplant equivalent of the praying hands emoji and makes a perfect “thank you” gift.
The leaf motion on Red Maranta comes from the movement of liquid in special cells at the base of each leaf. Lack of moisture and water may stop the leaves from moving. Since the leaf movements follow the circadian rhythms of heat and light, too little or too much light or heat can cause interruptions to this pattern.
No, the Maranta Red Prayer Plant has very few needs. However, it will let you know when it’s unhappy by not opening its leaves, even in the daylight. Marantas make perfect library houseplants as they can go for many years in shaded positions.
Place the Red Prayer Plant on a water pebble tray to increase humidity. They prefer shaded locations away from direct window light. For extra access to humidity, place them in a bathroom or a room with a humidifier or aquarium.