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One of the most striking houseplants is the Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura). It is a bushy, compact, low-growing plant with distinctly marked oval to oblong leaves. The plant's common name comes from the leaves' habit of folding at night, as if in prayer.

Maranta leuconeura kerchoveana is a popular variety with light green leaves and characteristic brown patches between the veins that resemble a rabbit's footprint. Another variety, M. leuconeura erythrophylla or tricolor, has deep olive green leaves with grayish green edges, red veins, and bright green irregular markings along the midrib.

The Prayer Plant needs light shade, away from bright sunlight. The soil should be kept slightly moist in winter and moist at all times in summer. You should fertilize from May to September every two to three weeks. Warmth in winter is essential to prevent leaves turning brown and shriveling. Misting leaves in dry air helps prevent this also. Direct sunlight can cause leaves to become bleached, especially if exposed to it in summer.

Susan Carlile, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas AgriLife Extension Service

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