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Add some colour to your interior with the nyctinastic prayer plant

Maranta leuconeura var. erythroneura

Full marks if you can get the name right in one go! This Brazillian beauty is native to the deep shady areas of the rainforest–which is exactly what gives this spectacular plant her incredible features. A colourful friend for any interior.

The varietal name erythoneura refers to the Latin erythroneurus which means red veined. Indeed, the leaves have beautiful bright magenta veins that arch across the top side of the leaf towards the leaf tip–the reason why some call her The Herringbone Plant. 

Plant Photography of Maranta leuconeuraHigh quality photography of Maranta leuconeuraMaranta leuconeura

The under, or for nerds like myself abaxial side of the leaves, are a beautiful shade of burgundy. This reddish-maroony pigmentation, is called Anthocyanin, a phenomenon often occurring in plants with habitats in limited light or dark, shaded areas like rainforests. It’s a pretty awesome trick that allows the leaves to catch and absorb reflected light, since they usually don’t get so much sun from above. 

Beautiful colourful underside of leavesPhotography of Maranta leuconeura

Apart from its intricate design, the Maranta has a ton of character. During the day, she appears to be silently sleeping. Her leaves lie flat and downward. Come evening however, her foliage folds nearly 90 degrees upward as her diurnal rhythm (daily circadian rhythm) bids her to react to the change in light. This behavior is called nyctinasty, and it is why she is nicknamed The prayer plant. I love it cause it really reminds me that plants are alive, and have habits just like we do.

Maranta leuconeuraHigh quality plant photography of Maranta plant

Maybe you’d also like to know that the Genus was named in honor of the Venetian physician and botanist, Bartolomeo Maranta, who helped found a botanical garden in Rome.  Let’s now take a look at her care instructions shall we?

Maranta leuconeura on a pink background

Caring for your Maranta

Names: Prayer Plant, Herringbone Plant, Maranta Tricolor

Family: Marantaceae, native to Brazil

Light: Any interior setting with indirect sunlight. Her colours will fade if she gets too much sun (remember the Anthocyanin from earlier). If there is too little sunlight, her leaves may not open properly. Watch her behavior. She’ll tell you what she needs.

Water: Water often, with purified water at room temperature (she’s sensitive to fluoride). She likes a moist humid environment–think tropical rainforest–and will roll up her leaves when she wants a drink-apparently. 

Soil: Moist, well draining and never soggy

Toxicity: Non-toxic to cats & dogs

Propagation: Quite easily by cutting just below the leave node and sticking it in some water, much like the Ficus or Pothos

Picture of Maranta leuconeuraHigh quality photographs of plantsMaranta leuconeura var. erythroneura – a colorful plant for any interior
Text & Photography ©  Barbara Cilliers

Echeveria

Echeveria

Counter to what the name might suggest our next succulent is not as prickly as its thorny peers, but just as chubby and charming. The Echeveria, a rosette forming succulent, belongs to the Crassulaceae family and is native to the arid areas of Central America.

Echeverias are closely related to Graptopetalum, and have been hybridized to form the Graptoveria. They’re so similar in fact that you’ll have a hard time telling the difference. In any event, these fat fingered succulents make very popular houseplants, due to their hardiness and beautiful colours.

 

Echeveria succulent. Plant Photography by Soonafternoon Copyright

Echeveria succulent_Plant Photography by Soonafternoon Copyright
Echeveria succulent_Plant Photography by Soonafternoon Copyright
 

Care: Echeverias like dry air and plenty of sun, so position them in spots where they get loads of sunlight for most of the day. They require well draining potting soil in containers that drain thoroughly.
Water: Allow the soil to dry out completely between watering. This will depend on the location of your plant and the conditions of your home so stick your finger in the soil to make sure it’s bone dry before you give it a good watering. During the winter months they require even less water. As with most succulents overwatering will cause your plants to rot.
Propagation: Echeveria’s produce offsets or baby plants that you’ll see popping up around the parent. Carefully pull these out and replant them. You can also propagate them by laying leaf cuttings on top of the soil. Sometimes plants can grow heavy and break off when you handle the pot. Simply stick them back in some soil and they should take again.

 

05-Echeveria-succulent_Plant-Photography-by-Soonafternoon-Copyright

Echeveria succulent_Plant Photography by Soonafternoon Copyright
Echeveria succulent_Plant Photography by Soonafternoon Copyright
 

This large genus of succulents produce a myriad of colour varieties that can range from turquoise to a light lime or mint. These cool hues are perfect for creating a calm and tranquil atmosphere in your home. Some species have magical gradients like light green to pink or purple. Use these tones together for a surprising colour scheme that’s a perfect balance of serenity and zeal.

Text & Photography ©  Barbara Cilliers

Philodendron Rojo Congo

Philodendron Rojo Congo

Say hello to my new friend Philodendron Rojo Congo. We met a couple of weeks ago, when this curiously coloured character found its way onto my desk. It took me several google attempts to ascertain it’s species, but I wasn’t completely surprised to discovered it to be yet another Philodendron – the Araceae family does after all, have close to 500 different species.

The Philodendron Rojo Congo can be identified by the bright red colour of young foliage. As the plant ages, the lance shape leafs turn a deeper darker green while the leaf stems retain their deep Auburn hue.

 
Philodendron Rojo Congo Plant
Philodendron Rojo Congo

Philodendron Rojo Congo

 

From the ancient Greek “philos” which means “love” and “dendron”, meaning “tree”, the name philodendron describes the species’ propensity for winding around trees. But unlike it’s brother Monstera, the Rojo does not share this climbing character. Instead, like the Xanadu, this philodendron is self-heading, which means it grows upwards and outwards.

 
Philodendron Rojo
Philodendron Leaf
 

Native to South America, the Rojo Congo prefers partial to shady areas but does not tolerate cold temperatures. This low maintenance perennial makes an excellent houseplant thanks to its sculptural appearance and good looks, plus it keeps the air clean while doing so.

 

Caring for your Philodendron Rojo Congo

Names: Philodendron Rojo Congo.
Family: Araceae, native to South America.
Water: Regular or weekly interval, ensuring the soil remains moist, but never soggy.
Location: Shady, temperate areas. Diffused natural or indirect sunlight like a northern exposure as direct sun will cause leaf burn.
Soil: Fast draining acidic to neutral soil.
Toxicity: Toxic to pets and children.

 
Philodendron Rojo Congo
Philodendron Rojo Congo
 

Troubleshooting

Soft green droopy leaves:Your plant needs some water. Give if a good dousing and it should perk up quickly.
Yellow droopy leaves: Could be due to overwatering. Check your pot to ensure that it drains well and that your plant is not sitting in water. Always feel the soil with your finger before water. If the soil is wet, or moist, do not add water – this will cause the roots to rot.
Brown crispy spots on leaves: Leaf burn from too much direct sun. Move your plant to a bright but not sunny spot with indirect light.
Few leafs dropping off at the bottom but the other leafs look healthy: A healthy plant will at times drop off older leaves. If the rest of the plant is healthy, it should not cause worries.
Saggy, drooping leaves even after watering: Your plant may at some point get too big for its pot. If the plant looks otherwise healthy, but a little lethargic, consider wether it might be time to give it a slightly larger home. If this is not the case a nitrogen fertiliser could help rejuvenate it.

 

Potted Philodendron Rojo Congo

 

Text & Photography ©  Barbara Cilliers