Maranta leuconeura cv. Massangeana ‘Tricolor’: Prayer Plant
Marantas and calatheas are both members of the same family. The only difference between them is that theof marantas have two staminodes instead of one and these are shaped like petals. Marantas, the same as calatheas, are plants of the bottom layer of hot, humid, tropical rainforests. All the 25 or so known species are native to tropical America.
Marantas are distinguished by thickened, tuberous roots in which the plants store starch. That is the reason why one species — Maranta arundinacea — became an important article of commerce grown for its starchy roots in many tropical countries of the world. Some 30 years ago, it was classed as an ornamental plant. It grows to a height of 1 m (3 ft) and has long ovate-lanceolate leaves reaching 30 cm (1 ft) in length. Nowadays, only the diverse colour forms are cultivated, particularly the yellow-variegated ‘Variegata’.
M. leuconeura, the type species from which the cultivar is derived, is native to Brazil. It reaches a height of 30 cm (1 ft), the leaves, about 15 by 8.5 cm (6 by 3-3/4 in), are pale green above with white spots in the centre surrounded by dark green spots and pale green, (very occasionally reddish) on the underside. From this species were selected two types of aberrations, sometimes described as varieties, namely ‘Kerchoveana’, which has larger, emerald-green leaves with blackish-green blotches, and ‘Massangeana’, with leaves spotted brown and coloured purple on the underside. Both cultivars are shorter than the type species, barely 15 cm (6 in) high, and prostrate. Besides the cultivar, which is one of the loveliest of foliage plants, ‘Manda’s Emerald’ is also recommended. Unlike calatheas, all marantas flourish indoors, even if put out openly in the room. Otherwise, cultivation is the same as for calathea.