Top Tips & Info
- Care Difficulty - Moderate
- Present a bright, indirect location, avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun, especially in the summer. A setting that's either too bright or dark will cause the variegations (foliar patterns) to weaken.
- Maintain evenly moist soil, allowing the top third to dry out in between hydrations. Avoid promoting droughts due to the heightened chance of yellowing leaves and weakened growth.
- Provide a good level of humidity by misting the foliage weekly or creating a pebble tray (recommended).
- Fertilise using a 'Houseplant' labelled feed every four waters in the spring and summer, reducing this to every six in the colder months.
- In spring, repot every three years with a 'Houseplant' labelled compost; water the plant 24hrs beforehand to reduce the risk of damaging the root hairs (Transplant Shock).
- Keep an eye out for Spider Mites & Mealybugs that'll located themselves in the leaves' cubbyholes.
Location & Light
Perfecting the amount of light a Maranta receives is crucial for a long-lasting specimen. During the spring and summer, be sure to provide a brightly lit spot away from any direct light. Excessive exposure during this time will negatively affect the plant in the likes of sun scorch and dehydration. Once the autumn kicks in, include an hour or two of morning sunlight per day to get it through the dormancy period, lasting until the following spring. Always ensure thorough soil moisture while under the sun's rays.
If the Maranta has red undersides, a shadier position in a house is also acceptable because of their ability to absorb light through the backs of their leaves via the simple mechanism of the colour itself! If, however, its nyctinastic movements become less prolific, you're running the risk of too low light and weakened health.
Allow the top quarter of the soil to dry out in between waters during spring and summer, reducing this further in the dormancy period. Under-watering symptoms include crispy or distorted new growth, curling leaves, crispy or dry patches and yellowing leaves. Juvenile specimens that lack a sufficient rhizome system are most likely to be hard-hit by extended periods droughts, due to their inefficient capability to store moisture. Scroll down to 'Common Issues' for more information on addressing a total loss of foliage. Over-watering symptoms include rapidly yellowing leaves, leaf spot disease, stem collapse and plant death. These issues are commonly caused by too little light/heat, poor cultivation habits or water-logging.
Create a humidity tray to provide a moist and stable environment for your plant. If the surrounding saturation is too low or the heat too high, its leaves may start to brown over and curl, especially in direct sunlight. Hose the foliage down from time to time to hydrate the leaves and keep the dust levels down. Those situated in either a bathroom or a dark location must not be over-misted as too much moisture surrounding the foliage will result in powdery mildew and leaf-spot disease.
Feed every four waters during the growing period and every six in the autumn and winter, using a 'Houseplant' labelled fertiliser. Never apply a 'Ready to Use’ product into the soil without a pre-water first, as it may burn the roots and lead to yellowed leaves.
Common Issues with Maranta
When a Maranta is severely dehydrated, most of its leaves will crisp-up and fall off - leaving you with a naked stem. Although it may spell the end of juvenile plantlets, there may still be light at the end of the tunnel for more established specimens. If its stem (or rhizomes for more severe cases) is still plump without any signs of retraction, prune-away the seriously affected areas and contain the plant (with its pot) in a transparent bag that has small holes. Keep the soil relatively moist, providing a good level of indirect light and temperatures above 15°C (59°F). After a few weeks, new life will form in the nodal junctions on the stems, signalling the start of its recovery process. If you're solely relying on rhizomatous growths to reappear, wait up to eight weeks for new growths to develop from the soil line. Once the specimen produces its second leaf, release it back into the open air with a humidity tray to alleviate the severity of environmental shock. Not only will this ease the specimen back into normal functioning life, but it'll also reduce the rate of transpiration (water-loss in the leaves), and therefore downplay the risk of dehydration and further decline.
Root rot is a common issue with specimens sat in too moist or waterlogged soil for long periods. Symptoms include rapidly yellowing leaves, stunted growth and a rotten brown base. Take the plant out of the pot and inspect health below the soil line. If the roots sport a yellow tinge, you're good to go, but if they're brown and mushy, action must be taken immediately.
Yellowing lower leaves (closest to soil) are a clear sign of over-watering, usually caused by too little light. Although they can do well in darker locations, the frequency of irrigations must be reduced to counteract the chance of root rot. People don't realise that a plant's root system needs access to oxygen too; when soil is watered, the air will travel upwards and out of the potting mix. A lack of accessible oxygen for the roots will cause them to subsequently breakdown over the oncoming days.
Mould developing on the soil means two things - too little light and over-watering. Despite the harmlessness of the mould, it'll prove unsightly to most gardeners and is therefore removed once known. To remove, replace the top two inches of the soil for a fresh batch of 'Houseplant' compost. Either increase the amount of light received (no direct sunlight for the first few weeks to prevent environmental shock) or decrease the frequency of waters slightly. If the mould is accompanied by yellowing lower leaves, you may also have a case of root rot.
Too much sunlight will lead to sun scorch, with typical signs including browning or crispy leaves, dry leaf-edges, sunken leaves or stunted growth. Although too little light will cause over-watering issues, excess sunlight will be a detriment to the plant as well. If yours has fallen short of this, reduce the amount of the sun considerably and always be mindful of environmental shock (when two locations offer too different growing conditions). Remove some of the affected leaves and increase waters slightly.
If your specimen is located in a dark environment, use a chopstick to gently stab the soil in various areas. You should aim to enter the compost between the base of the plant and the pot's edge, as failure to do so may lead to damaging its lower portion. Leave the holes open for a few days before re-surfacing the soil to avoid it becoming overly dry. Not only will the gentle shift in the soil's structure mimic the work of small invertebrates in the wild (worms, etc.), but it'll also add oxygen back into the soil, thus reducing the risk of root rot. Repeat this monthly, or whenever you feel the potting-mix isn't drying out quickly enough.
Always use lukewarm water, and if you choose to use tap water, allow it to stand for at least 24hrs before application. Maranta tend to be quite sensitive to temperature change, so pouring cold tap water immediately into the pot will not only add fluoride into the soil, but it could even cause yellowed leaf-edges over time.
Spider Mites are small, near-transparent critters, that'll slowly suck out the chlorophyll out of the leaves. Have a check under the leaves, most notably along the midrib, for small webs and gritty yellow bumps. Click here to read our article about the eradicating Spider Mites, along with some extra tips that you may not find elsewhere!
Too low humidity can cause browning tips with yellow halos on juvenile leaves. Although this won't kill your specimen, you may want to increase the local moisture to prevent the new growth from adopting these symptoms. Mist or rinse the foliage from time to time and create a humidity tray while the heaters are active to create a stable environment. The browning of leaf-tips on older leaves is wholly natural and is the product of extensive photosynthesis during its life.
Maranta is a genus consisting of fifty species, native to the tropical Americas. It was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753, honouring Italian botanist, Bartolomeo Maranta, who performed most of his work in the mid-sixteenth-century. Marantaceæ is the taxonomic family of Maranta, as well as the closely related genera of Calathea, Ctenanthe & Afrocalathea.
15° - 27°C (59° - 80°F)
H1a (Hardiness Zone 13) - Must be grown indoors or under glass all year round. Never allow temperatures to dip below 15℃ or permanent damage may occur in the likes of flower loss, stunted growth and yellowed leaves.
Up to 1.2m in both height & width when reaching their maturity of five years, with up to 15cm of new growth being developed each season.
Pruning & Maintenance
Remove yellow or dying leaves, and plant debris to encourage better-growing conditions. While pruning, always use clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases. Never cut through yellowed tissue as this may cause further damage in the likes of diseases or bacterial infections. Remember to make clean incisions as too-damaged wounds may shock the plant, causing weakened growth and a decline in health.
Via Seed, Stem Cuttings & Rhizome Division.
Stem Cuttings via Water - (Easy)
- Choose the healthiest, most established vines that are wooded, but still juvenile enough to slightly bend. This propagation method can be taken from spring to summer, with the stem (not including petioles) being at least 15cm (6 inches) in length with two nodes (one for foliar development and the other for root growth). Although more nodes are fine, be sure only to submerge the bottom ones to avoid inappropriate rooting elsewhere, which will be more difficult when it's time for soil placement.
- Cut directly below a node using a clean knife to reduce bacteria count. Remove the lower half of the leaves and place the vines into a container of lukewarm water. Be sure to submerge at least one node into the water, or else the root development will be hindered.
- The leaves must stay above the waterline for the prevention of disease.
- Replace the water weekly, using lukewarm water to avert shocking the cutting with cold temperatures.
- Once the roots surpass 3cm (1 inch) in length, it's time to pot the specimen.
- Choose a potting mix - as long as it has a well-draining nature, most soils are fine. 'Houseplant' compost is best, but 'Multi Purpose' compost with a splash of grit or perlite is also acceptable.
- Use a 7cm inch pot that has suitable drainage holes - plastic or terracotta are both acceptable in this instance. Try not to over-pot the cuttings; blackleg occurs when the bottom wound becomes infected, typically caused by water-logging or a too-damaged wound.
- Set the cutting into the compost, keeping the foliage above the soil line.
- Avoid direct sunlight and offer proper humidity by placing the potted plants into a transparent plastic bag with holes for the first couple of weeks.
- Open the bag every two days for half an hour for the prevention of disease. After a month of being placed in soil, remove it from the bag and follow the care tips provided above.
Stem Cuttings via Soil - (Moderate)
- Choose the healthiest, most established vines that are wooded, but still juvenile enough to slightly bend. This propagation method can be taken all year round, using two nodes that already house aerial roots (image above). You should only have two nodes so that the lower one is for root development and the other for foliar growth. Remove the lower leaf so that each cutting only has one leaf.
- Cut directly below a node using a clean knife to reduce bacteria count. Remove the lower leaf and place the lower node into a moist, well-draining potting mix; 'Houseplant' compost is best as it'll include perlite for better air circulation within the soil.
- Use a 7-inch pot that has good drainage holes - plastic or terracotta are both acceptable in this instance. Try not to over-pot the cuttings; blackleg occurs when the bottom wound becomes infected, typically caused by water-logging or a too-damaged wound.
- Set the cutting into the compost, keeping the foliage above the soil line. Be sure to submerge the lower node into the soil wholly, or else root development will be hindered. Curl the leaf inwards and tie it loosely. As moisture is lost via transpiration in leaf's underside, this will provide higher humidity that will, in turn, reduce the risk of dehydration. Do not force the leaf past its bending capacity.
- Provide a bright, indirect setting with adequate warmth and the avoidance of direct sunlight or operating radiators. Place the potted cutting and its pot into a transparent plastic bag (with small holes) for the first couple of weeks to lock in extra humidity. Maintain moist but not soggy compost throughout this process.
- Open the bag every two days for half an hour for the prevention of disease. After six weeks of being placed in soil, remove the bag and follow the care tips provided above.
Rhizome Division (Moderate) - Separating the basal offsets into their own pot will not only expand your plant collection, but it'll also slow the process of becoming pot bound. The best time to divide is during the spring, with the stem's length surpassing 15cm (6 inches). Gently brush away some of the soil to gain better access to the offset's base (it may be slightly under the soil line) where the roots will be housed. While using a clean pair of secateurs or scissors, cut the stem with at least two root nodes attached to its base and two leaves. Set the offset in an appropriate-sized pot with adequate drainage and a 'Houseplant' labelled compost. The ideal location would provide bright, indirect light and temperatures above 15℃ (59℉). Maintain evenly moist soil, allowing the top third to dry out in between hydrations. After a month or two, treat it like a matured specimen by using the care tips mentioned above!
Repot every two years in spring using a 'Houseplant' labelled compost and the next sized pot with adequate drainage. Hydrate the plant 24hrs before tinkering with the roots to prevent the risk of transplant shock. For those that are situated in a darker location, add a thin layer of small grit in the pot's base to improve drainage and downplay over-watering.
Pests & Diseases
Keep an eye out for mealybugs, spider mites, thrips, whitefly & root mealybugs that'll locate themselves in the cubbyholes and undersides of the leaves, with the exception of the latter in soil. Common diseases associated with Maranta are root rot, leaf-spot disease, botrytis, rust, powdery mildew & southern blight.
Not known to be poisonous when consumed by pets and humans. If large quantities are eaten, it may result in vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite.