Maranta

The marantas are popular plants nowadays both as greenhouse and room plants, and they are as good for one purpose as the other. I find that they grow best, like Begonia rex, if they are stood on the floor of the greenhouse, where they get partial shade and take up moisture from the soil or ashes on which they are standing. They need a minimum winter temperature of 13 to 16°C. (55 to 60°F.) rising to 24°C. (75°F.) from spring to autumn.

The most widely grown variety is Maranta leuconeura kerchoveana, the Prayer Plant, which has pale green leaves with oblong purple markings changing to brown as the leaves age. The leaves fold inwards at night as though in prayer – hence its common name. Another variety with beautifully marked leaves is M.l. Erythrophylla. This newcomer has fresh green foliage boldly marked with red and brown stripes and blobs.

Cultivation

I find that marantas grow well in the John Innes No. 1 Potting Compost or in a soilless type. Potting should be done in February or March and drainage must be good. The largest pots the plants will need is the 5-in. size. Watering must be heavy from spring to autumn but much lighter in winter. Indeed they should be kept almost dry from December to February. In the summer, feed with a liquid or soluble fertiliser which can be given once a week with benefit. These plants need careful attention, especially in winter. If they die down at that time do not discard the plants for new growth often develops later.

Division

Increase is by division in February or March. Loose soil is shaken from the roots and separate shoots with roots attached can be potted in 3-in. pots and potted on as necessary.

01. March 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Featured Articles, Greenhouse Gardening, Plants & Trees | Tags: , | Comments Off on Maranta

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