Genus native to Brazil and the tropical areas of Africa, which includes about twenty species.
The Maranta is cultivated for the very ornamental variegated foliage. They are evergreen plants that grow in the undergrowth of tropical places; their predominant characteristic is given by the particularly mottled and variegated foliage which makes them very decorative. There are numerous varieties that show differences in the coloring of the foliage.
It produces not very showy flowers, formed by three petals, which have large stamens inside them.
They can be grown both at home and in greenhouses. A curious particularity of these plants is that it closes the leaves when the brightness of the environment is high. It is in fact plants that resist well even in areas that are not very bright.
The temperature should never fall below 8-10 degrees.
The ideal temperature for growing these plants is around 25 ° C, with a very high degree of humidity. In hot weather it is good that the plant remains in a shady place, otherwise it could present serious problems.
Watering and soil
This type of plants should be watered regularly in the warm period, taking care to keep the soil moist, but not soaked. In winter the watering should be reduced. M. Leuconeura loves damp places, so it is good to spray water on the leaves, in order to guarantee the correct degree of humidity.
The ideal soil for its cultivation is rich and fertile, with a good degree of drainage, consisting of soil, peat and sand.
This plant has a rapid growth, so it is good to plan to repot it at least every two years when you have young specimens. In the case of adult plants the plant may no longer require repotting, but it is advisable to intervene to eliminate a layer of old soil, to be replaced with other rich and fertile soil.
The multiplication occurs by division of the plants or by cuttings in the summer period, leaving 3-4 leaves per branch. The cuttings should be placed in a mixture of peat and sand and in a constant temperature environment, around 25 ° C.
Some varieties of Maranta are used for food purposes: in particular, a type of edible starch is obtained from the roots.
The name Maranta derives from the scholar Bartolomeo Maranti, who first studied it in the 16th century.
Native to tropical America, it has thin stems about 2 meters high and very large leaves that can even reach 30 cm. When the plant reaches a certain size it produces small white flowers.
Native to the areas of Guyana in Brazil, it has a harvested habit. The leaves, dark green, elliptical, rarely exceed 14 cm in length. The flower, not very showy, is white with a purple vein inside.
Native to Brazil, M. Leuconeura has fairly short stems with a decombent growth habit. It does not reach large dimensions, maximum 50 cm, and is composed of elliptical leaves with a rounded tip that reach 15 cm. This plant is also known as "Plant of Prayer".
Maranta - Maranta leuconeura: Pests and diseases
These plants can present problems caused by pests that can cause serious problems if they are not countered in time. The most common parasites are aphids, red spider mites and lice and scale insects.
In the case of red spider mites it is possible to contrast them effectively, only by increasing the degree of humidity, proceeding with frequent water vaporisations on the leaves. For scale insects, however, if their presence is limited, it is possible to intervene manually for their elimination, using a cloth or a cotton pad with alcohol.
For lice there are specific specific products, or, it is possible to prepare macerates based on nettle or garlic to be sprayed on the affected plants.